Who are you? Claudia Dowell, features editor of Practical Motorhome and a motorcaravanner for 11 years.
Why are you a local authority on Brighton & Hove? I lived there during my university years and beyond – 10 years in all – my daughter was born there and I have family there still.
What do you love about it? It has just about everything within a fairly small area: vibrant city life, fantastic architecture, and a seafront that buzzes in the summer, but locals can reclaim in the winter, all surrounded by the beautiful South Downs. It’s impossible to be bored.
What’s your favourite place to visit in the area? The seafront has a great deal to offer. From Western Lawns, in Hove, to Brighton Marina, there are 4.5 miles of cafés, shops, pubs and piers, plus artists’ workshops, the British Airways i360 tower, the Fishing Museum, kids’ playgrounds, Volk’s Electric Railway and Brighton’s aquarium.
Be mindful that there is a naturist beach towards the Marina end of Madeira Drive. Alternatively, drive up Dyke Road and onto the Downs at Devil’s Dyke, where you can park up and walk a stunning stretch of the South Downs Way to Ditchling Beacon.
Which campsites would you recommend, and why? Brighton Caravan and Motorhome Club Site, just inland from the Marina, is probably the most convenient. Open all year, the site is 2.5 miles from the city centre, offers more than 200 pitches and has a regular bus service into the centre, so you can leave your ’van on site. Job done!
What food and drink is the area known for? I would say cocktails; this is a hedonistic city, after all. Wine, too: Sussex is home to a good few vineyards.
Tell us somewhere great to eat or drink! The city is packed with restaurants and bars catering for numerous cuisines, tastes and budgets. For a leisurely breakfast or lunch, try family-run Billie’s on Upper North Street, Joe’s, Upper Hamilton Road, or Mange Tout, on Trafalgar Street in the eclectic North Laines area.
Also in the North Laines, on Sydney Street, is The Flour Pot bakery and café, which has other branches on the seafront at Kings Road Arches (where they do a great breakfast pizza!) and Portland Road in Hove. For cocktails, you could head to The Plotting Parlour just off the Old Steine, easily reached by bus.
Where can you get spare kit? There are several camping gear shops in the city, including Johns Camping International, Cotswolds Outdoor and Halfords. For a dealership, try Stewart Mouland Motorcaravans in Peacehaven.
Where can you find the cheapest petrol/diesel in the area? Asda at the Marina (N2 5UT) and at Hollingbury (BN1 8AS) – going out towards Ditchling Beacon – are the cheapest for unleaded and diesel, or try Sainsbury’s in West Hove (BN3 7GD).
Share a secret highlight that only a local would know… The Garden House is a vast organic garden hidden away behind a row of houses just off Ditchling Road (BN1 4NT), which also offers all kinds of fascinating workshops, for all gardeners, whether novice or expert.
It has just about everything: vibrant city life, fantastic architecture, and a seafront that buzzes in the summer
Things To Do
Spend some time on the famous pebble peach
Explore the shops in the Lanes
Take a bite out of the city’s wonderful café culture
Take a stroll along the seafront towards the Marina
Enjoy city-wide views from the i360 tower
When To Visit
In May, you can enjoy the Brighton Festival and the Artists Open Houses fringe festival. Visiting the Artists Open Houses is a great way to explore the city, as well as discover the work of some very talented people – although parking in some areas is tricky.
The A23 leads onto the M23 and London, while the A27 runs from east to west.