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By Christine Fleming

Brighton has long been the holiday destination du jour for everyone from frazzled Londoners to seaside-loving royals. Pride of place on the seafront waiting to welcome those guests is the world-famous hotel, The Grand Brighton.

A picture of Victorian elegance, The Grand Brighton is a piece of living history. Built in 1864, it has played host to Eurovision winners ABBA, politicians, royalty and countless other celebrities over the years.

Now with new owners the Fattel Group at the helm, the famous rooms are getting a chic, modern makeover. Meanwhile the resident atmospheric Cyan restaurant, with its dark painted walls and covered terrace seating, has also released a new locally-inspired menu to tempt you in.

The Grand Brighton Hotel Review

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

The Grand Brighton lobby
Credit: The Grand Brighton

Located in prime position with views of the West Pier and beyond, The Grand Brighton is a seven-storey architectural marvel straight out of the Golden Age. With bowler hat-wearing doormen flanking the entrance and a grand high-ceilinged lobby, complete with show-stopping staircase, from the moment guests arrive they’ll feel like they are stepping back in time.

The whole space oozes old school grandeur. With the luxurious art deco Victoria Bar and stylishly chic Cyan restaurant, both of which you’ll pass on your way to the reception, all adding to the effect.  

THE ROOMS

The Grand Brighton sea view room
Credit: The Grand Brighton

Boasting 201 rooms, including Suites and dog-friendly options, The Grand Brighton definitely lives up to its name. Each room, many of which have recently been renovated, is designed for comfort. We’re talking Egyptian Cotton bedding, fluffy pillows and super soft Weaver Green blankets made from recycled bottles to snuggle up in. Plus, the bathrooms are stocked with UK made vegan-friendly Noble Isle toiletries and huge fluffy bathrobes.

The rooms feel Hamptons-esque with calming pastel hued walls, luxurious padded headboards and occasional splashes of colour courtesy of soft furnishings in nautical blues, aquas and the occasional regal purple. Thoughtful features like black and white pictures of things you’ll spot on Brighton Beach are a lovely constant reminder that you are indeed at the British seaside.

Given the hotel’s long and illustrious past, some of the rooms also come with a bit of history attached. There are QR codes scattered around that when scanned tell you about the momentous events that have happened at The Grand Brighton. If there is one outside your room be sure to check it out. Our room was the one which featured in an episode of Only Fools and Horses and on the floor below was the suite that played host to Fatboy Slim following the legendary Big Beach Boutique party on the beach.

Secure yourself a sea view room with a balcony for maximum wow factor and enjoy watching the waves from up high with a morning coffee or late-night glass of wine in hand.

FOOD AND DRINK

Afternoon tea room The Grand Brighton
Credit: The Grand Brighton

Bringing a contemporary style to its Victorian setting, the hotel’s Cyan restaurant with its dramatic blue walls and high-ceilinged main space creates quite the first impression. Original features, including ornate cornicing, sit juxtaposed with a marble columned modern central bar and abstract artwork, giving a luxe feel to the space. And there’s even an original Victorian covered terrace filled with fairy-light strewn trees if you fancy a more romantic dinner vibe.

Offering a seasonal menu inspired by local produce, Head Chef Neil Gooding’s all-day eatery is about paying homage to British classics with a contemporary twist. Expect to find the likes of Lobster and Macaroni Cheese Croquettes (£11) and Spiced Butternut Risotto (£16) next to a Classic Fish Pie (£18) and an extensive Fish and Meat Grill list.

Cyan restaurant The Grand Brighton
Credit: The Grand Brighton

During our visit I tried out the kitchen’s Salmon Pastrami (£10) which arrived as four delightfully flaky chunks of pale pink fish enveloped in a smoky salty crust. Served alongside a zesty tomato filled salad – the gluten-free option that comes in place of the usual couscous – that was a fresh and tasty way to brighten up a grey Autumn day.

Next up was Grilled Seabass with a Garlic Butter sauce (£19) and a side of French Beans with Bacon (£5). Served whole, the fish was perfectly cooked, crisp on the outside yet still delicate and juicy on the inside – a real seaside treat. All finished off with a delightful selection of Coconut and Elderflower Ice Creams (£6) that served as the perfect palate cleanser.

It’s worth mentioning that the staff at Cyan also know a thing or two about wines. In keeping with the promotion of local produce you’ll find local drops scattered throughout the menu, including a tasting flight of Sussex’s own Bolney Estate’s red, white and rose for just £15. 

EXTRAS

The Grand Brighton afternoon tea
Credit: The Grand Brighton

The fact the hotel proudly shares its history with guests is a real delight. Scouring the floors for the QR codes that will tell you more about what happened in each room, who stayed in the building and the various historic firsts that happened there is a great way to spend an hour or two.

Talking of history, there is also the option of adding on breakfast which is served in The Albert Room – where Harold Wilson held the second ever cabinet meeting outside of Downing Street. Breakfast is a continental and Full English buffet affair with an omelette station for those who like their eggs made to order. Pick what you fancy, then settle in to fuel up while diving into a choice of digital magazines and newspapers that guests can access.

Finally, should the weather turn or you need a break from walking on the pebbles then the hotel also offers Afternoon Tea served on the beach facing Victoria Terrace. There are six different variations of afternoon tea served in this bright and airy plant-filled hideaway, so grab yourself one of the velvet-covered booths and let the decadence ensue. From £38pp served daily at 12pm, 2pm and 4pm.

OVERALL VERDICT

Thanks to its ongoing refurbishment, The Grand Brighton is delivering traditional seaside grandeur with a modern touch. It’s in the perfect location for exploring Brighton, has swoony sea views and is so steeped in history that a stay here feels like an experience in itself.

Prices start from £165 a night

Book a stay at The Grand Brighton here

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