Shopping in Brighton: Kemptown, Hove and the Clocktower

by BrightonExpert

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;
  • Brighton Flea Market - 31A Upper St James’ Street, Brighton BN2 1JN; +44 1273 624006;
  • Kemp Town Bookshop - 91 St George’s Road, Brighton BN2 1EE; +44 1273 682110;
  • Metrodeco - 38 Upper St James’ Street, Brighton BN2 1JN; +44 7878 508719;


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;
  • Farrow and Ball - 31B Western Road, Hove BN3 1AF; +44 1273 774640;
  • I Gigi - 31A & 37 Western Road, Hove BN3 1AF; +44 1273 775257;
  • Toast - 40 Church Road, Hove BN3 2FN; +44 1273 208180;

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;
  • Debenhams - 95-99 Churchill Square, Brighton BN1 2TE; +44 8445 616161;
  • Fair - 21 Queen’s Road, Brighton BN1 3XA; +44 1273 723215;
  • Habitat - 11 Churchill Square, Brighton BN1 2TB; +44 8444 991105;
  • Marks & Spencer - 195 Western Road, Brighton BN1 2BJ; +44 1273 203610;
  • Recipease - 72-73 Western Road, Brighton BN1 2HA; +44 1273 311338;
  • Ryman - 55 North Street, Brighton BN1 1RH; +44 1273 775306;
  • Waterstone's - 71-74 North Street, Brighton BN1 1ZA; +44 1273 206017;
  • WHSmith - 2-3 Churchill Square, Brighton BN1 2TA; +44 1273 324146;

More shopping

Ready for more? Just flip to my guide Shopping in Brighton: The Lanes and North Laine and read my overview on Shopping in Brighton.

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.


My career as a travel writer for national newspapers, magazines and big-name guidebook companies takes me all over the world – trekking in the Congo Basin one month, café-hopping in Sydney the next – but there’s something about Brighton that keeps pulling me home. It’s now been my base for over ten years.

There's more about me on my website:

My Brighton

The things I like best about Brighton – apart from its fantastic location, of course – are its quirkiness and its sense of fun. It’s easily the UK’s most colourful coastal city.

Where I always grab a coffee: My favourite rainy-day café is Redroaster on St James Street in Kemptown – the owners are fanatical about quality coffee, and it shows. When the sun’s out, you can’t beat The Meeting Place in Hove, a down-to-earth spot right next to the sparkling sea.

My favourite stroll: I adore Brighton’s open spaces and big skies. Best of all are the seafront promenade – glorious at any time of year – and the gigantic pebble beach.

Shopaholics beware: There’s always something new in the North Laine, the grid of streets southeast of the station. With rows of one-of-a-kind boutiques, vintage stores, gift shops and organic food suppliers, it’s the heart of bohemian Brighton, and thoroughly addictive.

The perfect pint: In a city that’s positively stuffed with good pubs, The Basketmakers Arms on Gloucester Road is one of the best – cosy, characterful and central, with great beer on tap.

The place to be seen: The Brighton Ballroom (formerly The Hanbury) on St George’s Road in Kemptown has reinvented itself as a wonderfully eccentric little music, cabaret and dance venue. It hosts everything from indie bands to 1930s-style jazz nights and saucy burlesque parties.

The most breathtaking view: On the sunniest, calmest days of summer, it’s great to head down to the beach for a swim. Strike out, turn around, and you see the Regency seafront stretched out like a ribbon. It has to be one of the most beautiful views in Britain.

Don’t leave without… treating yourself to a pile of luscious fish and chips on Brighton Pier.