Brighton's favourite shopping streets are lively, individual and fun to explore on foot. As a bonus, they're also stuffed with great little places to eat and drink. So go on, treat yourself.
Best for: jewellery, fashion, chocolates and gifts
Brighton’s most famous shopping quarter, just northwest of Brighton Pier, is a maze of narrow streets with a faintly medieval feel. Many are pedestrianised and linked by alleyways known locally as twittens. It’s an atmospheric area to explore, especially at Christmas or on a warm summer day when the seagulls are wheeling overhead.
In the not-too-distant past, The Lanes were home to rows of dealers selling antique jewellery, objets d’art, china and furniture. In recent years, many of these have been replaced by a mixture of upmarket chainstores including MAC, Karen Millen and Russell & Bromley, along with quirky one-offs such as sexy clothing and gift boutique She Said, which is hidden away on a twitten.
The Lanes are great for gallery shops, too: my favourites include The Alexander Gallery and The Lanes Gallery, both of which stock affordable one-off pieces by local painters, ceramicists, sculptors and jewellery makers.
If you’ve fallen for the cupcake fad, you’ll be floating on air at Angel Food Bakery, while chocoholics can dose up at Montezuma’s, one of several tempting chocolate specialists on the same street. More down-to-earth, and a Brighton institution, is Rounder Records, the vintage and contemporary music specialist where local lad Norman Cook (Fatboy Slim) used to work.
A few old-fashioned jewellers still remain – you’ll often see couples sighing over the vintage engagements rings in their windows – along with contemporary makers such as Jeremy Hoye on Ship Street.
This quarter is not just a place to shop – it’s also a place to wander, dip into cafés or pubs, or settle down in a restaurant for a leisurely lunch. Some of the city’s most imaginative ethnic and vegetarian eateries can be found here, offering a great excuse to make a whole morning or afternoon of it.
Brighton's best shops: The Lanes
- The Alexander Gallery - 7 East Street, Brighton BN1 1HP; +44 1273 321694; www.thealexandergallery.co.uk
- Angel Food Bakery - 20 Meeting House Lane, Brighton BN1 1HB; +44 1273 208404; www.angelfoodbakery.co.uk
- Jeremy Hoye - 22A Ship Street, Brighton BN1 1AD; +44 1273 777207; www.jeremy-hoye.com
- Karen Millen - 5 Nile Street, Brighton BN1 1HW; +44 1273 220581; www.karenmillen.com
- The Lanes Gallery - 32 Meeting House Lane, Brighton BN1 1HB; +44 1273 734347; www.thelanesgallery.co.uk
- MAC - 6 Dukes Lane, Brighton BN1 1BG; +44 1273 720026; www.maccosmetics.co.uk
- Montezuma’s - 15 Duke Street, Brighton BN1 1AH; +44 1273 324979; www.montezumas.co.uk
- Rounder Records - 19 Brighton Square, Brighton BN1 1HD; +44 1273 325440; www.rounderbrighton.co.uk
- Russell & Bromley - 57-58 East Street, Brighton BN1 1HN; +44 1273 326772; www.russellandbromley.co.uk
- She Said - 11 & 13 Ship Street Gardens, Brighton BN1 1AJ; +44 1273 777811; www.shesaidboutique.com
Best for: original and vintage fashion, music, homewares, toys and gifts
Quintessentially Brightonian, the North Laine is home to the city’s liveliest and most bohemian jumble of small independent shops, along with some great cafés, pubs and performance venues.
The main shopping streets in this quarter – Bond Street, Gardner Street, Kensington Gardens and Sydney Street – run between North Street (just north of The Lanes) and Trafalgar Street (immediately east of the station). It’s always buzzing, particularly on sunny weekends when shoppers regroup and revive at the outdoor café tables. In recent years, the revamp of New Road and Jubilee Square has given this quarter a real boost, leaving its old rival, The Lanes, looking a little old hat.
Original clothes, shoes and accessories are a North Laine speciality. The quarter’s highlights include gorgeous bespoke shoemaker Laste, leather-free specialist Vegetarian Shoes, cute boutique and homeware store Velvet and swish contemporary tailor Gresham Blake. Vintage clothing fans who can’t resist a good rummage should head for cult warehouse-style store Beyond Retro and the frankly loopy To Be Worn Again, a long-standing favourite.
Among the many lovely gallery shops are io, which always has a great range of covetable jewellery, ceramics and clocks, and Chris MacDonald, a sculptor inspired by Picasso and Magritte, who creates strangely witty assemblages out of locally-found objects such as fishbones, driftwood, discarded wing mirrors and tools.
Adding to the unique texture of this superb little neighbourhood are a host of other independents selling everything from bonsai trees, kites, jokes, crystals, handmade toys, vintage vinyl, sumptuous stationery and bikes to cutting-edge, eco-friendly gadgets.
Brighton's best shops: North Laine
- Beyond Retro - 42 Vine Street, Brighton BN1 4AG; +44 1273 671937; www.beyondretro.com
- Chris MacDonald - 93 Gloucester Road, Brighton BN1 4AP; +44 1273 601639; www.chrismacdonald.eu
- Gresham Blake - 20 Bond Street, Brighton BN1 1RD; +44 1273 609587; www.greshamblake.com
- io - 39 Sydney Street, Brighton BN1 4EP; +44 1273 671212; www.iogallery.co.uk
- Laste - 6 Bond Street, Brighton BN1 1RD; +44 1273 777141; www.laste.co.uk
- To Be Worn Again - 24 Sydney Street, Brighton BN1 4EP and 51 Providence Place, Brighton BN1 4GE; +44 1273 624500
- Vegetarian Shoes - 12 Gardner Street, Brighton BN1 1UP; +44 1273 685685; www.vegetarian-shoes.co.uk
- Velvet - 27 Bond Street, Brighton BN1 1RD; +44 1273 725992; www.velvetstore.co.uk
Ready for more? Just flip to my guide Shopping in Brighton: Kemptown, Hove and the Clocktower and see my shopping overview: 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.