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Best 10 Out of 900 Brighton Pubs: English Seaside Drinking at Its Finest

Restaurants + Bars Insider Guides
by Kristin Conard Apr 21, 2010
Brighton, the infamous “dirty weekend” escape for the Prince Regent, is popular for bank holidays and the stomping ground for stag dos and hen nights. The reputation and popularity are at least in part derived from its estimated 900 pubs – one for every 533 inhabitants.

HERE ARE THE best 10, picked because of their drinks variety, atmosphere and the special spark that makes them a true Brighton pub.

The Evening Star

A rustic and homey pub, home to the Dark Star Brewing Company, conveniently located between the train station and the beach. The cherry beer and coffee beer are my favourites.

55-56 Surrey Street


From classic to eclectic, Gingin has some of the most inventive cocktails in the city: Rocky IV with raspberries, tuaca, dark raspberry liqueur, champagne and wild rocket can definitely deliver a punch.

Popular with Kemptown locals, the bar has leather sofas, chandeliers, mirrors and a dark and intimate basement bar, and serves some of highest-end bar food I’ve seen in Brighton: duck and mushroom paté, and smoked salmon. Need I say more?

74 St. James Street

The Hop Poles

With a lovely covered and heated garden in the back, The Hop Poles has quick service, jars of sweets along the wall, and sculptures made of hubcaps on the ceiling. The Hop Poles is also a great place for a classic English Sunday roast.

13 Middle Street

The Fortune of War

I feel a bit like a pirate when I drink at the Fortune of War. Its nautical theme is complete with wood-panelled walls and ropes for handrails up to the first floor. It is right on the water with a beachfront terrace, and is popular with locals and bank holiday visitors looking for a pre-club drinking spot.

157 Kings Road Arches

The Bath Arms

Tucked into the Lanes and featuring an open fireplace, upright piano, wooden tables, and leather armchairs, the Bath Arms offers a traditional pub feel with the added twist of a selection of board games and books. They serve a good range of ales and wines.

4-5 Meeting House Lane

The Earth and Stars

I feel like I’m saving the planet when I drink at The Earth and Stars. It has solar panels on the roof and organic and locally sourced drinks.

I recommend the Weston’s Organic Vintage Cider or Freedom Lager. You can test out the theory that organic drinks cause less of a hangover the next day. I haven’t had any luck with it myself, but it’s worth a try.

46 Windsor Street.

The Cricketers

Grab a real ale at one of the three bars of the Cricketers and bask in the knowledge that you are drinking in one of the oldest pubs in Brighton. Built in 1547, it is a Brighton institution and was reportedly Graham Greene’s favourite pub.

He wrote it into the novel Brighton Rock and the upstairs cocktail bar is called the Greene Room. The dark wood, burgundy flock wallpaper and collection of brass decorations give it a Victorian feel.

15 Black Lion Street

Druid’s Head

Druid’s Head is a historic pub known for its beer selection and open mic nights. In the 18th century, the Druid’s Head was involved in smuggling; it has tunnels running from the basement down to the beach. Sit on the outdoor patio in the summer and you’re sitting in the original town square of the tiny fishing village, Brighthelmstone, which grew up to be Brighton.

9 Brighton Place

The Bee’s Mouth

It’s in Hove, actually.

The bar is a jazz dive with winding halls and stairways that combines great drinks (try the Clockwork Orange cocktail), random found art (head with knitting needles in it), and arty, indie patrons. Downstairs is the spot for eclectic live music, from jazz to electronic.

10 Western Road

Hand in Hand

The Hand in Hand is one of the smallest pubs in Brighton and is painted bright yellow. Look up and peruse the equivalent of pornography for Victorian times (women in bathing costumes) on the ceiling between sips of a local brew. The Kemp Town Brewery is just upstairs.

33 Upper St. James Street

Community Connection

Okay. They’ve got great pubs in Brighton, you say, but how about nude beaches? (You weren’t saying that? You might soon.) Check out MatadorTripsBest Nude Beaches in the World to find out more.

Matador Community member The explorer writes why Brighton is The Second Nicest City in the U.K. in her blog. Read hers and start your own at

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