A place I know and love
Brighton is one of those places where I can disappear to every now and again and feel as though I’ve been well rested, even though it’s just a stone’s throw away from London. I like to travel, even if that means seeing a new city or town in the UK to satisfy the wanderlust. I love the instant change of pace, scenery, sea air and breezy beach walks that make you feel as though you’re abroad, and the nostalgic memories of arcade fun on the pier and inhaling the scent (and taste!) of fresh, sugary donuts. Heading there in a cold December was admitedly brave, but Brighton has never looked so lovely and it wasn’t full of the usual tourists either. Sometimes it really is the simple pleasures in life that mean the most.
On my last visit, I spent more time than usual in the North Laines, an ecletic quarter bursting with everything from quirky vintage shops, jewellers and Bohemian independent cafés to high street fashion/lifestyle brands, gastropubs and restaurant chains. It’s a gem of a place and I spent hours walking in and out of the busy streets, grazing, browsing and generally lusting over everything in sight. And it’s Brighton’s houses that have me wishing I lived in this sought-after city too…
Home from home…
After months of eying up pretty instagram snaps of homes around the world I gave in to airbnb’s charm – a unique alternative to pricey chain hotels with the idea that homeowners let out a room or entire property to guests for holidays, business or leisure. The website enables you to navigate through almost 200 countries and cities for accommodation filtered down to style, size, location and price. Each property is listed with amenities and a description from the owner, details about your stay and additional ‘ground rules’. It didn’t take long for me to find my ideal flat in Hove which neighbors Brighton – light-filled, clean and styled with an old English decor. The payment process is simple, and both our host and airbnb kept regular communication until our arrival date.
Our flat was located in a quiet, leafy suburb within walking distance from the town centre. We rented the entire top floor flat so our host was there to greet us and hand over the keys. The flat not only looked exactly like the photos, but our host was so welcoming and pretty laid back which was a surprise given she was leaving her place in new hands! She showed us around and was out the door with a hop, skip and a jump! “See you tomorrow!” she echoed and we were left to our own devices. But that’s when I realised I loved this idea. A home from home, without the restrictions or expectations of a hotel. The freedom and space to move around, come and go as we pleased and travel in a different way. I was inspired!
Old meets new
The flat was small but perfect for up to two people. There were so many lovely features, like the big sash windows, staircase, vintage furniture and pastel shades of cotton candy, cream and teal throughout. It was uncluttered and peaceful. Jo Malone room sprays were dotted around, a piano and a guitar, and green plants that added a freshness to the space. We spent two days there and had an incredible stay. For a first time trip, it met all expectations and I wouldn’t hesitate to try out airbnb again. I have a place in Europe on my agenda next, but the world is my oyster after all.
The Riding House Café
After much hearsay and anticipation to go to this popular central London all day brasserie, I had mixed reviews when I finally went. The old English décor and spacious interior is well thought out, offering a really relaxed atmosphere split into different areas. Go for casual bar stools, share a long table or cosy up around booth style seating. Curious antiques, gorgeous shades of burnt orange and teal, rustic dark wooden furniture and embellished lampshades make you feel as though you’ve stepped into an old library or reading room. They offer several menus from breakfast to brunch, lunch and dinner. But I’ll be honest, the food certainly didn’t blow my mind and for the prices it seems to fall short.
My cousin and I booked in advance and rightly so because it was busy on a Sunday afternoon. The brunch menu had relatively good choice; I had the buttermilk pancakes, berry compote, vanilla cream and maple syrup which was filling but average on flavour. My soya latte and freshly squeezed carrot and beet juice were nice additions to the meal. I noticed other dishes seemed incredibly small in portion sizes which was disappointing considering what you pay and staff seemed a little overbearing. For me, a waiter who attends my table once or twice is so much more enjoyable than being hounded every 5 minutes for small talk and drink orders. I guess it’s the London dining culture.
The Riding House Café is a nice place to unwind for a couple hours and take in its undeniable charm, but it’s no food revolution. Would I go back? Yes, but perhaps a coffee will do.