All about my stay at a very grand hotel by the sea in the south of England - with a whole bunch of rambling & anecdotes to go with it. As usual around here...
I started the new decade by fleeing the country for a while (erhm...) and got myself over to England. It felt so nice to start the year with a "proper" change in scenery. Not just a trip up the coast, but actually going someplace different. England is one of my favourite countries in the world – despite the grey, rainy and windy similarities it has to Sweden this time of year, I really do love it there.
The trip started with a few days in London – the vibrant, noisy, dirty and hectic city that is easy to love, yet exhausting to be in. Despite London being London, it was so lovely to get on the train, seeing the landscapes rush by – and we rolled into Brighton train station just under an hour later. I've been in London and other parts of the south of England a few times before (years ago though), but Brighton was a first.
Stepping into the hotel was a special experience. Greetings where thrown all over the place: "Madame, how are you? Sir, welcome to the Grand" and I found myself almost blushing when someone insisted on carrying my bag up the few steps to the reception. With that being said, I did feel very well greeted, just a bit awkward in the moment.
Living in Australia years before, I got the odd Miss or Madame thrown at me now and again. But with Aussies being Aussies – it was always tossed around in a very relaxed way. When I was at uni in Italy it was a totally different story, and both of my "professoressas" (what you call female teachers at uni) called me strictly by my surname. Which was very confusing at first, considering they pronounced it in a way that was unrecognisable to me. First day in class my friend had to wisper in my ear "I think she's talking to you", for me to realise they were actually calling out my name in order to check it off on the attendant list. I raised my hand carefully and said: "I think that's me...?"
Hearing these greetings in England made me, as a Swede, feel very much outside my comfort zone. Yet, I find it very nice in a way – how you always start off by meeting a stranger with respect like that. It makes you feel taller... somehow?
Getting back to The Grand, shall we? A hotel that undoubtedly is just that – grand. One of the nicest hotels I've personally ever stayed at, to be honest. I should mention that I I’m not usually one for ”splurging” on hotels when I travel. More often than not I would rather spend the money on food than accommodation – and therefore mostly tend to look for "a decent place" when hotel hunting. A place where I can crash at the end of the day, and where I can wake up rested and enjoy a decent breakfast the next day. Easier said than done, to find the balance between affordable and just plain... decent.
With that being said - one of the best things about travelling off season is that you can get amazing deals on accommodation. And I did get an amazing deal when booking the hotel in Brighton. Too good to be true? Of course.
Because, yes – upon arrival, I realised that the room happened to be situated next to the hotel's (what I believe were) extraction fans and it suddenly got to me why I had "found" a room with such a good price online. If it's too good to be true, it always is. How come I never learn?
The first room was stunning (the first room isn't shown in this post, FYI), but – being a very light sleeper, the inferno going on outside the window really wouldn't work. Despite me trying my best to focus on the gorgeous room, I couldn't get passed the fact that: It. Was. Unbelievably. Loud. And after a few nights in a poorly insulated town house in Kensington, with heavy rains and two happy & incredibly drunk Irish guys as neighbours – a good night's sleep was the one thing I looked forward to the most when arriving in Brighton.
It took me a good hour or so to decide to drag myself down to reception and ask for another room. I felt so bad. I have never done that before, never personally complained about a hotel room. When I've found myself in these situations before – I've never been the one going down to have "the talk" with the people at reception. But I was glad I dared to do so after all, this time. The hotel staff were very accommodating and eager to help – as expected.
"I'm sorry Madame," said the guy at reception, regarding my noice complaint. "I have now given you another room, a bit higher up in the house. It should be quieter and it's actually a bit of an upgrade. Are you okay with that?"
Obviously I was. Clearly, I was. I had no problems w h a t s o e v e r with that.
Sleeping in this room was so lovely. Waking up and falling asleep to the sound of the waves crashing against the beach just below was a treat. Being born and raised on the west coast myself, the sound of the ocean is something I associate with home.
With all of that rambling said and out of the way. If you're ever thinking about visiting Brighton and looking for a place to stay, I would say; treat yourself to a stay in an ocean-facing room at The Grand. I certainly will stay there again and treat myself if (read: when!) I come back to town. It's perfect for a romantic getaway, for you and a group of friends or as a nice treat for someone's birthday.
A Few Quick Notes:
- The Grand Brighton is located at the bottom of the hill that is Brighton city, just off the boardwalk.
- In just a short few minutes you can walk down to the new Brighton Pier and also into (up to) town and the "lanes" for food and shopping.
- Going downhill from the train station with a suitcase was easy, going back up, climbing that steep hill with luggage is probably harder. If you don't want to take a taxi to the station when leaving, or take a taxi straight to the airport – I would opt for a coach from the coach bus station when going to Gatwick instead of the Gatwick Express train.