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Brighton

Don’t gawp at Nick Cave. Imogen Lycett Green on where to shop, stay, picnic, cycle and find some culture

imogen lycett green | May/June 2014

Do turn left out of the station and meander through the North Laine towards Brighton Pavilion. Lose yourself among independent traders selling everything from handbags made from recycled bicycles to winter coats sculpted in felt by Yoma. Bespoke tailors Gresham Blake make pinstripe suits. For mod paraphernalia, try Jump the Gun.

Do hire a bike from Brighton Cycle Hire (under the station) and ride along the seafront towards Oscar Wilde’s house in Worthing. Tie up at the new Velo Café on the Level for a croque monsieur made with Sussex ham. If you get a puncture, they’ll mend it.

Do move to Brighton if you have criminal ambitions. Local folklore has it that the twin getaway possibilities of Brighton Marina and Shoreham Airport make it home to a disproportionate number of crooks. Read all about it in the bestselling crime novels of Peter James.

Don't faint when Nick Cave picks up his daily coffee from Ground in Kemp Town. Just sip your chai, tap on your Mac, and pretend you’re a regular. For an authentic look, wear gym clothes.

Do buy sausages at Canham’s on Church Road, Hove. Then walk to the sea with your portable barbecue and turn right. The locals picnic in peace at the west end of Hove beach.

Don't get your knickers in a twist about Brighton and Hove. Only an ampersand separates the two towns, whose union was cemented by the Queen in 2000. But remember this: when you are in Hove, you are in Brighton, but when you are in Brighton, you are not in Hove.

Don't be tempted to go clubbing with your children. Slip them a tenner to dance or drink the night away at Digital (Wednesday) or The Haunt (Saturday), while you enjoy the Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra playing Brahms at the Dome.

Do visit the Komedia on Gardner Street for gigs, cabaret, stand-up comics and art-house films. Share inventive English tapas at Plateau first, or ditch the whole movie idea and eat yourself happy at the Little Fish Market, Hove: 20 covers, cash only and Duncan Ray (fresh from the Fat Duck) in the kitchen.

Don't point and stare at the elderly transvestite driving his mobility scooter up East Street. Simply smile, admire his twinset, and wish that you too lived in the city that voted in Britain’s first Green MP.

Do spend a morning on St George’s Road, which has flowers, good bread and the Kemptown Bookshop. Make an appointment with the legendary antique dealer Alex Macarthur, whose bow-fronted Regency house doubles as a showroom.

Do go for the Brighton Festival. Founded in 1966, it puts on 200 events over three weeks in May, and guest directors have included Aung San Suu Kyi. This year it’s the choreographer and composer Hofesh Shechter. Pick your shows at brightonfestival.org, then find a bed: rent an apartment from airbnb.com, play it safe at the excellent Hotel du Vin, or lose your inhibitions and dive into the nutty boutique Hotel Pelirocco.

Don't feed the seagulls. They’ll grow as big as dogs and end up eating you.

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