Brighton: one of Britain’s Top Gay Destinations
Brighton is one of my picks for hot summer holiday this year! Check out this guest post from Cassandra Kinsey on just why this seaside city is hot!
For more than a century, the seaside city of Brighton has been a popular destination for gay travellers looking for a welcoming, laid-back atmosphere where they can relax and have fun. In recent years, thanks to civil partnerships, Brighton has also become one of the top destinations for couples who want to pledge their lives to each other.
With an array of hotels and inns catering to gay travellers, as well as neighbourhoods and activities that appeal to anyone, Brighton is an ideal destination for a summer holiday.
A Welcoming Reputation
Brighton has been a popular destination for travellers since the mid-1700s, when upper-class and fashionable Britons began visiting to enjoy the relatively new pastime of “sea-bathing,” which was believed to cure all sorts of ailments. It wasn’t until 1841 when the railway arrived in town Londoners began arriving en masse. Wealthy families would take daytrips to Brighton to stroll the pier, visit the Royal Pavilion and enjoy the fresh salt air.
By the reign of Queen Victoria in the late 19th-century, Brighton had developed a reputation of being more relaxed and laid-back than the rest of England. Eager to escape the propriety and social expectations of London under the watchful eye of the conservative Queen, homosexuals and others who felt constricted by society would spend weekends in Brighton.
Despite Queen Victoria’s hatred of Brighton and her threats to destroy the Royal Pavilion, Brighton thrived and today is one of England’s top tourist destinations — particularly for homosexual tourists.
Where to Stay
When you’re booking hotels in Brighton, you have an array of options, from small bed-and-breakfast inns to large, ocean-side resorts with all of the amenities. Among those options are a number of gay-owned and gay-friendly boutique establishments.
The largest gay community in Brighton is centred on Kemptown, also known as Gay Village. This area, clustered around St. James Street and Old Steine, is filled with gay-friendly hotels, restaurants and bookstores.
One of the favorite hotels in this area is the Amsterdam, a hotel, bar, restaurant and sauna complex right on the beach. The Ambassador Brighton is another favourite; located on New Steine, this four-star bed-and-breakfast has only 24 rooms and offers ocean views. For a bit of history, stay in one of the restored Georgian townhouses in Kemptown, such as One Broad Street, New Steine or Blanch House.
What to Do
One of the biggest events in Brighton each year is Brighton Pride, a massive festival and parade designed to build awareness of issues affecting the LGBT community. This year, Pride kicks off on July 19 with an arts-and-film festival honouring gay icons. On August 3, the annual Pride parade snakes through the streets of Brighton followed by a day-long festival including concerts, food and shopping in Preston Park. The event draws thousands of people from all over the world and is widely considered to be the best Pride event in all of Europe.
Of course, there’s plenty to do in Brighton outside of the weeks leading up to Pride. Brighton has some of the best nightlife in all of England. In many clubs, gay and straight revellers mix seamlessly. However, there are a number of exclusively gay establishments, such as Revenge, the largest gay club in Brighton, and Envy, which has a different theme every night.
If you want to take a break from partying, you can learn more about the history of Brighton and its gay community through several museums and tours. At the Brighton Museum, a comprehensive exhibit chronicles LGBT past, present and future. You can take the “Only in Brighton : Piers & Queers” guided walking tour through the history of the city; tours take place on most Friday and Saturday evenings, and give a historical perspective on Brighton’s long LGBT history.
Brighton has long been a destination for travellers who want to let their hair down and take a walk on the wild side. Whether you’re looking for a weekend away or a place to make a lifetime commitment to your partner, it’s worth a visit to this seaside city.
About the Author: Cassandra Kinsey is a writer and photographer. She covers destinations throughout Europe for several blogs.