High street basics? Or something utterly unique? Whatever you're after, Brighton's eclectic shopping streets can deliver. I'll point you in the right direction.
Best for: bric à brac, antiques and collectibles
There are several good shops selling antiques and oddments in The Lanes and the North Laine, right in the heart of Brighton. But the fashionable quarter of Kemptown, just east of Brighton Pier, is the best place in town to hunt for that elusive Clarice Cliff milk jug or 1960s sideboard. From St James’ Street - the lively but raffish heart of Brighton’s gay village - head east to Upper St James’ Street and St George’s Road, where several newcomers have recently joined the old favourites that have been trading here for years.
At early-20th-century-furniture specialist Metrodeco, some of the stock cleverly doubles as café tables and chairs – they do great tea-time treats here. The shocking pink façade of Brighton Flea Market hides an intriguing array of stalls and is often good for arts and crafts style tables, chairs and chests. Further east, Alex MacArthur in St George’s Road stocks a dramatic and challenging array of oddments, from ecclesiastical relics to industrial-style steel cabinets and light fittings.
Also in St George’s Road are some fabulous delis, a great traditional butcher and cheese shop, and Brighton’s best independent bookshop, Kemp Town Bookshop, which has an airy upstairs café.
Brighton's best shops: Kemptown
- Alex MacArthur - 101 St George’s Road, Brighton BN2 1EA; +44 1273 607533; www.alexmacarthur.co.uk
- Brighton Flea Market - 31A Upper St James’ Street, Brighton BN2 1JN; +44 1273 624006; www.www.flea-markets.co.uk
- Kemp Town Bookshop - 91 St George’s Road, Brighton BN2 1EE; +44 1273 682110; www.kemptownbookshop.co.uk
- Metrodeco - 38 Upper St James’ Street, Brighton BN2 1JN; +44 7878 508719; www.metro-deco.com
Best for: upmarket food, wine and homewares
Well-to-do Hove has thrown off its rather stuffy image in recent years and reinvented itself as Brighton’s answer to Kensington and Chelsea. Shops selling pricey, shabby-chic furniture have popped up all over the place, posh paint store Farrow and Ball graces one of the Regency squares, and Church Road, which used to be decidedly staid, now has chic patisseries, an artisan cheese specialist, La Cave à Fromage, and even a champagne shop, Toast.
I Gigi - a homeware store, boutique and café spread over two elegant shops - is one of my favourite places in Hove. Soothing, neutral tones and natural textures are its trademark.
Brighton's best shops: Hove
- La Cave à Fromage - 34-35 Western Road, Hove BN3 1AF; +44 1273 725500; www.la-cave.co.uk
- Farrow and Ball - 31B Western Road, Hove BN3 1AF; +44 1273 774640; www.farrow-ball.com
- I Gigi - 31A & 37 Western Road, Hove BN3 1AF; +44 1273 775257; www.igigigeneralstore.com
- Toast - 40 Church Road, Hove BN3 2FN; +44 1273 208180; www.toastchampagne.co.uk
Around the Clocktower and Churchill Square
Best for: high street names
If pound shops, mobile phone dealers and catalogue shops bring you out in a rash, look away now. Here’s the dirty truth: Brighton shopping isn’t all bijou this and recherché that. But let’s face it, there are times when even the most discerning shopper just wants to nip into Boots, Ryman, Habitat, WHSmith, M&S or Debenhams. Know that feeling? You’ll find everything you need within a few hundred metres of the Clocktower which stands at the foot of Queen’s Road, the street that leads down towards the seafront from the station.
Brighton’s most conventional shopping mall is Churchill Square just southwest of the Clocktower, between Western Road and West Street. It’s not at all bad – in fact it’s pleasantly airy for an indoor mall of its era (1990s) and it won an award when it first opened. You’ll find plenty of high street names here.
If you’re in need of a sanity break while you’re in the area, you could linger a while in Fair, which specialises in fair trade clothing and ethical gifts, or just bury your nose in a book in Waterstone’s opposite the Clocktower. Or, you could head along Western Road to Recipease, Jamie Oliver’s upbeat cookshop, café and cookery school, for a bit of culinary fun.
Brighton's best shops: Around the Clocktower and Churchill Square
- Boots - 129 North Street, Brighton BN1 2BE; +44 1273 207461; www.boots.com
- Debenhams - 95-99 Churchill Square, Brighton BN1 2TE; +44 8445 616161; www.debenhams.com
- Fair - 21 Queen’s Road, Brighton BN1 3XA; +44 1273 723215; www.thefairshop.co.uk
- Habitat - 11 Churchill Square, Brighton BN1 2TB; +44 8444 991105; www.habitat.co.uk
- Marks & Spencer - 195 Western Road, Brighton BN1 2BJ; +44 1273 203610; www.marksandspencer.com
- Recipease - 72-73 Western Road, Brighton BN1 2HA; +44 1273 311338; www.jamieoliver.com
- Ryman - 55 North Street, Brighton BN1 1RH; +44 1273 775306; www.ryman.co.uk
- Waterstone's - 71-74 North Street, Brighton BN1 1ZA; +44 1273 206017; www.waterstones.com
- WHSmith - 2-3 Churchill Square, Brighton BN1 2TA; +44 1273 324146; www.whsmith.co.uk
Where to stay
For a full list of my recommendations on where to stay in Brighton, see Brighton Hotels – Award winning expert hotel reviews, from cheap to luxury hotels in Brighton.