Welcome To Brighton: The House magazine's guide to what to do at conference
Conference doesn’t have to be all panels and policy-making. When Brighton beckons, follow Noa Hoffman’s guide to the best places to eat, explore, shop and bop
Almost a century after Ramsay MacDonald’s party first took to the pebbled shores of Sussex, Labour Conference is back in Brighton.
A lot has happened in the two years since the annual gathering last took place in person, not least a change in leadership, and a general election which saw 60 former MPs lose their seats. But if there was ever a time and place for the party to re-energise, regroup and renew, Brighton in the early autumn sunshine is surely it.
The seaside resort and its array of world-class attractions provide a fun and characterful backdrop to the debates, votes, exhibitions and parties of Labour Conference. This year is the 28th time Brighton will play host, and while many will know the resort like the back of their hand, it’s not just newcomers who would benefit from exploring beyond the somewhat claustrophobic confines of the Hilton Metropole.
the event’s host city, be it out of curiosity or perhaps a much-needed break, here are The House’s top recommendations.
When fresh air, a clear head or change of scene is needed, delegates will find themselves spoilt for choice:
Brighton Palace Pier
An obvious one, yes. But it would be a shame to visit Brighton without taking a stroll along its world-famous pier. Opened in 1899, the grade II-listed structure stretches 525m out to sea. It has all the classic seaside rides, but the rollercoaster is best avoided by Conference-goers with a hangover.
A vibrant palace with an eccentric history. The building was constructed as a seaside pleasure house for King George IV and is worth a visit for its intriguing blend of Indian, Chinese and Regency architecture. Explore the gardens, grand reception rooms, royal bedrooms and a great kitchen for £16.
British Airways i360 Viewing Tower
It may not have the period charm of Brighton Pier or the Royal Pavilion, but what it lacks in character the tower makes up for in stunning panoramic views of the Sussex coast. Over-25s pay £16.50 to access the 162m-high glass viewing platform and Sky Bar for 25 minutes.
In the city centre, the Lanes offer an eclectic mix of upmarket independent stores from homewares and art to chocolate and jewellery. The narrow footpaths and colourful shopfronts make a pleasant break from the corporate corridors of the Hilton.
Brighton Museum and Gallery
You’ll find Brighton Museum and Gallery in the Royal Pavilion garden. It has a diverse series of displays, from ancient Egyptian exhibits to 20th century art and contemporary LGBTQ fashion. Adults can access the space for £6.20 and all tickets are valid for a year.
Atelier by the Sea
This new creative space on the seafront offers arts and crafts activities. Delegates probably won’t have time to try their hand at wood carving or jewellery design, but the space also houses galleries and artisan shops ideal for a browse.
Restaurants, Pubs and Cafes
With an option to suit every budget, Conference-goers will have no problem finding the perfect spot to wine and dine, lobby or fuel up for a long day of discussion and debate:
For those seeking a blowout to impress, the food, service and atmosphere at Isaac At is the place to go. The Scandi-style restaurant in Gloucester Street is run by acclaimed chef Isaac Bartlett-Copeland whose menu is centred on fresh, local produce. A three-course meal is £30, or for those feeling extravagant an eight-course tasting menu can be enjoyed for £60.
In the heart of Brighton’s Lanes, the Mesmerist offers a range of pub classics like burgers and roasts, as well as gourmet recreations of dishes including tacos and Jambalaya. The trendy pub has an excellent cocktail range, with its salted caramel espresso martini a particular speciality. Mains go for between £10 and £14.
Lost in the Lanes
Aesthetic and tasty in equal measure, Lost in the Lanes on Nile Street is a 10-minute stroll from the Hilton Metropole and one of Brighton’s top breakfast and brunch spots. If smashed avocado, buckwheat granola and a pretty Instagram post is on your dining out checklist, this is the perfect spot for you. Plates range from £8 to £14.
Curry Leaf Café
Tucked away in the Lanes, Curry Leaf Café serves up some of Sussex’s finest south Indian dishes. The boho interior, variety of vegan and vegetarian options and selection of craft beers make this an ideal spot for an end-of-day feast. Main dishes are around £14 to £17.
Brighton hosts an excellent range of sporting activities and events, and while the home teams aren’t playing during Conference, it’s worth bearing in mind for a return visit:
Brighton and Hove Albion
The city’s football club, fourth in the Premier League at time of writing, has lit up the Premiership since its return to the top flight in 2017. The Amex Stadium is open to visitors and houses a bar and Brighton FC superstore.
Described as one of the UK’s “most picturesque racecourses”, Brighton racecourse hosts a series of exciting occasions including Ladies’ Day, family fun days and live music. The racecourse website has a list of upcoming events, which are worth reserving tickets for early.
Bars and Nightclubs
Whether you’re looking to celebrate a favoured policy passing or seeking to hide from Conference karaoke, these venues will have you up on your feet from dusk till dawn:
Renowned as one of the south coast’s best LGBTQ+ nightclubs, Revenge in Kemptown has its own rooftop bar, three expansive floors and a magic mirror photobooth. The venue guarantees all its guests a memorable time.
Though only six years old, Patterns on Marine Parade has already gained a reputation as one of Brighton’s best underground club venues. Described by the Evening Standard as “one of the coolest outdoor spots in the city”, the club is popular among hipsters and artists, and hosts a mix of live music and DJ sets.
The multi award-winning cocktail bar in Middle Street serves a wide range of beautifully crafted drinks. Cocktail connoisseurs can tickle their taste buds with everything from lotus biscoff espresso martinis to pink grapefruit palomas.
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