Artist ResidenceBrighton hotel is more than a pretty 19th-century façade; this central Brighton stay has views of the sea and West Pier, reclaimed industrial decor, artist-designed interiors and the Clubhouse space, a multipurpose hang-out zone where cocktails flow and tasty seasonal eats are served.
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in 3pm, earlier subject to availability. Ask at reception if you've arrived early and need somewhere to stash your bags.
Double rooms from £145.01, including tax at 5 per cent.
Rates generally exclude breakfast; à la carte options range from £4.50 to £10, and include buttermilk pancakes with berry compote, bacon and egg butties, eggs various ways and a hearty full English (plus a vegan version).
It's hard not to covet the hotel's impressive art collection while staying here. It's hard to pick a favourite, but we were especially tickled by Andy Doig's neon washing-line. If you feel the same, you can see more of his work at his beachside studio, just down the road.
At the hotel
Free WiFi. In rooms: Bramley bath products, coffee and tea-making facilities with bags from Joe’s Tea Co, free biscuits and bottled water, flatscreen TVs with freeview, Robert’s DAB radios.
Our favourite rooms
The 11 ‘artist’ rooms have been individually decorated by local and international artists, and 13 ‘house’ rooms have up-cycled furniture and limited-edition prints. For views of the sea and (what remains of the) West Pier, pick a south-facing room. Room 23, a bigger ‘house’ room, has large double windows, art prints and a claw-foot, roll-top bath with a sea view. Light sleepers take note: the Below Deck is located under the Clubhouse bar and restaurant and can be subject to noise disruptions on busy nights.
Light layers for seaside strolling and cycling, an artistic ensemble for the evening, to fit in with the hotel’s creative aesthetic.
Guests with mobility issues should request assistance when climbing the five steep steps up to the hotel. There's a lift, but it's a little bit of a squeeze.
Pups are welcome in some rooms for £15 a night a pooch; a comfy bed, towel, food and water bowls and treats will be supplied for their stay. Please check on the availability of a dog-friendly room before booking. See more pet-friendly hotels in Brighton.
Children aged six and over can stay; however, the buzzy restaurant and bar and a lack of in-house child entertainment makes this more suitable for a couples weekend.
Residence uses LED lights and green cleaning products when possible, reclaimed materials and eco-friendly Farrow and Ball paint. The hotel supplies guests with bath products from eco-conscious brand Bramley, and the restaurants and bar recycle. The fish served in the restaurant is from sustainable sources and locally sourced produce is used whenever possible.
Sit by the bar and watch the chefs deftly put dishes together in the open kitchen; they'll often talk you through them as they work.
Anything goes – the more colourful, the better. Take a cue from your artistic surroundings and channel your inner East-London gallery-goer.
There's a sociable feel to the Clubhouse, an eatery, work hub, bar and gathering space where you can start your day with morning coffees and end with creative cocktails. It's composed of several spaces: a relaxed café with sea views, exposed brick, a fireplace and locally sourced artwork (we like Andy Doig's cheeky washing-line, complete with neon pants), and a laidback lounge. Kickstart your day with chilli- and lemon-spiked avo on toast and bacon baps with a spicy Bloody Mary; brunch on marscapone-slathered buttermilk pancakes; lunch on salads, burgers and fish and chips (what else?); or dine in elegant fashion with a menu of Sussex hanger steak with triple-cooked chips, hake fillet with orzo and crispy squid and other creative treats. Sunday lunch is a hearty, mustn't-be-missed affair too.
The clubhouse cocktail bar is in the building to the right of the main restaurant, featuring tropical prints and quirky neon lighting. The bar itself is fashioned from corrugated iron and reclaimed wood from the West Pier, and a mere handful of tile-topped tables keep things cosy. The bartenders are enthusiastic about their craft, working from a reassuringly concise menu that focuses on refigured classics and all-new creations, all of which are concocted by the Clubhouse’s lead mixologist in line with the seasonal ingredients used in the menu; try a refreshing Limoncello and Thyme Sour as you gaze out towards the West Pier.
Breakfast is served from 7.30am till late and the main menu runs from 12.30pm till 9pm from Monday to Thursday, till 9.30pm on Friday and Saturday. You can drink in the Clubhouse until midnight.
No room service, the restaurant and bar are just downstairs. Forage in the nearby delis for a late-night picnic: cheese from La Cave a Fromage, pork pies and sausage rolls from the Grasmere Farm Shop and tapas to go from Mediterraneo.
At the top of Regency Square, looking down to the sea, Artist Residence is close to Brighton’s beach and has everything you'd want on your doorstep: galleries and acclaimed restaurants, the Pier and Brighton Pavilion.
The closest major airport is Gatwick International; from there, Brighton is a 30-minute train ride or a 45-minute drive away. Cars are available to hire from Avis at the airport.
Fast trains from London Victoria or London Bridge will have you there in an hour. Trains from Birmingham New Street to Brighton take just over three hours. The hotel is a 10-minute walk from Brighton station.
Although it’s set back from the beach, Artist Residence has views of the sea and the remnants of the West Pier. The hotel is at the Hove end of Brighton, but still within walking distance of iconic sights; it’s central.
If you’re a first-time visitor to Brighton, carve out some time to see the Royal Pavilion, the former seaside pleasure palace of King George IV. It’s a little bit of history and a lot of ostentation, but thoroughly regal. Then swing by Brighton Pier and let your inner child loose on the carnival rides and nostalgic seaside fun. Poke around the independent shops, art galleries and boutiques of the Lanes, where you’ll also find plenty of spots to stop and refuel. If you’ve been inspired by your creative surroundings, find limited-edition art prints for your own abode at Unlimited or Art Republic.
Nature lovers can watch ponies and deer frolic at South Downs National Park, which is only a 20-minute drive away, and spend a day rambling through the countryside. Or borrow bikes and cycle along the beach to Hove. In the evening, check out the entertaining offerings at Brighton Dome; you may be able to catch a concert, dance performance or quirky spoken-word showcase.
Unsurprisingly, seafood abounds in Brighton. Only a 10-minute stroll from Artist Residence, The Little Fish Market serves up fresh fish and regional produce in a coolly casual setting, punctuated by local art work. For a classically British fresh-fish menu, look to nearby The Gingerman Restaurant. The Salt Room has a more modern take on British cuisine, specialising in fish and meat cooked over charcoal. Wander down Brighton Lanes and pop into petite restaurant 64 Degrees, where chef Michael Bremner whips up an ever-changing menu of small plates in the open kitchen. Sit at the pass to watch the master at work, and don’t pass up the burnt onion pappardelle if it’s on offer.
Vegetarians, Brighton has rolled out the red carpet for you… There are some very fine veggie and vegan eateries here. Terre à Terre has the prettiest meat-free plates that'll get everyone excited: halloumi in chip-shop batter with vodka-spiked tomatos and lemon Yemeni dressing, aubergine fried in tahini with wasabi and yuzu pesto, dark chocolate mousse with clementine sorbet and other delights. And award-winning vegetarian restaurant Food for Friends has been dishing out herbivore fare since 1981. If you can’t get enough of your greens in one sitting, take home one of their cookbooks for Meatless Mondays at home. Stylish English's Restaurant & Oyster Bar has been a fine-dining favourite with locals and visitors for 70 years. You’ll find classic seafood dishes and modern British cuisine and, if you look closely, former patron Dame Judi Dench’s photo on the wall.
French-style bistro Mange Tout serves leisurely brunches, locally roasted coffee and sustainably sourced tea; order the cinnamon French toast topped with fruit compote, a melty croque madame or scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and a buttery croissant.
The Flour Pot Bakery makes freshly baked bread and breakfast favourites daily. They also offer a winning combination of Small Batch coffee, tasty sandwiches and cakes, making a stop at either of this bakery’s Brighton locations a good bet. For a heartier brunch or lunch, swing by The New Club, an American-style restaurant in a restored building on the seafront. It’s best for brunch and burgers. For afternoon cakes and tea, try artisan bakery Sugardough, which has a Hove location and a spot in the Lanes.
The Ginger Pig pub is a short stroll towards Hove from the hotel. Trendy The Urchin pours out craft beer and serves up shellfish. For a relaxed atmosphere, amble over to The Temple Bar Brighton, which serves Firebird 'brewery fresh' Bohemia Pilsner straight from the brew tanks.
‘What do you give the American who has everything?’ I wondered as Mr Smith’s 30th birthday approached. I settled on a thoroughly British cultural experience, something he could never experience back at home in his native Southern California – a rainy weekend by the seaside.
So off we trekked to Brighton, umbrellas in hand. The train from London Victoria was delayed – ‘Magnificent.’ I thought, ‘The most English start to the weekend possible.’ The taxi driver who picked us up from Brighton Station had never heard of Artist Residence (Mr Smith, who’d hitherto assumed all British drivers had the encyclopaedic training of London’s cabbies) was aghast. The driver did, though, know the address – Regency Square is a green seafront plaza flanked almost entirely by hotels. We’d stayed in one of the least salubrious of that number several times, the sort of place where the seafront location only just made up for the cheap-as-seagull-stolen-chips mattress and the all-night noise from the neighbours. I had much higher hopes for Artist Residence.
Those hopes were instantly encouraged by the neon sign beaming to us from the half-moon window above Artist Residence’s hot-pink door; once inside, we found ourselves surrounded by Friday night in full swing, with the Cocktail Shack off to the right of the check-in alcove and the Set Café’s bar just to our left. Despite the all-encompassing carousing, check-in was a swift delight, and we were soon snuggled up in the lift (do not attempt to share the lift with anyone you’re not also planning to share your bed with – it’s that tiny, as you’d expect in an historic Brighton townhouse.)
We flopped onto our sizeable bed and surveyed our temporary beachside home, quickly declaring the it a winner: Mr Smith loves a roll-top bath in the bedroom and I love things people will like on Instagram, and our Bigger House Sea View room had both. (We’re also both fans of Tunnock’s Caramel Wafers, of which there were several on the vintage desk.) The rain was already pounding on our windows, blurring the iconic view of Brighton’s burnt-out West Pier, but the rumbling in our stomachs couldn’t be ignored.
We put our hoods up and trekked all of two minutes to the New Club just round the corner: although our previous stays on Regency Square hadn’t been anywhere near as comfortable or stylish as our Artist Residence jaunt, we did always eat well, and dinner at the New Club’s a stone's-throw favourite. After far too much mac ‘n’ cheese and milkshake (I’m pregnant, the calcium’s good for the baby) followed up by a sticky date pudding with whiskey-toffee sauce (I’m pregnant, I really miss alcohol) we let the sea breeze blow us back to the hotel, where we took the advice we’d overheard the waitress giving to the table next to ours at dinner: ‘You have to go to the Cocktail Shack tonight. It’s the best place to drink in Brighton.’ The bartender sympathised with my knocked-up-cocktail-lover woes and mixed me a Desmond Tutu, which somehow tasted like it might have alcohol in despite being fully midwife approved (Mr Smith very kindly conferred with me every time he ordered to make sure he only got tipples I fancied sipping. Mr Smith is really nice.) Then we remembered that roll-top tub, and poured ourselves back into the miniature lift for a lengthy soak before bed – the only thing that could’ve made the evening lovelier would’ve been bathrobes to slip into once we de-bath-ed.
We slept through breakfast, dozing to the sound the rain, as was the birthday boy’s wont (plus, we were still rather stuffed full of the night before’s cosy comfort food). When we did eventually drag ourselves out of the supremely comfy king-size bed, we didn’t feel like venturing too far – handily, our oysters-and-lobster lunch from the Regency café 30 seconds from the hotel made for a perfect – if unorthodox – beachside breakfast. It was then that the sun peeped out for a minute, and we made our only mistake of an otherwise error-free weekend: we went to the pier. Brighton Pier can be brilliant (I especially love it on cold and foggy days when there’s no one else weird enough to wander along it) but on that sunny-ish Saturday in May we found it packed with barefood vaping banshees screeching at their awful offspring. We quickly learnt our lesson and legged it back to our home-from-home on Regency Square for another lounge in the bath before dinner.
…and it really was quite a dinner. Artist Residence’s Set Restaurant serves, as the name suggests, a choice of three set menus of seasonal British cooking – all inventive, and all delicious, as far as we could judge from our own meals and the satisfied utterings overheard from the neighbouring tables. (If you, like me, have a life-long love of the milk that’s left over after you eat all your Cheerios, the cereal-milk ice cream is a must.) It was the sort of meal that leaves your appetite so entirely sated you can’t imagine ever eating again… but remember, we’d skipped breakfast, and if I have any sort of raison d’être it’s hotel breakfasts. Mr Smith’s, on the other hand, would be Sunday-morning lie ins, so I dragged myself alone from that glorious bed and hoped the pancakes in the Set Café would be worth it… and they were, topped with mounds of cream and berries. They would, in fact, have made perfect birthday [pan]cakes, had the birthday boy not stayed snoozing upstairs.