London: Side Trips

Brighton

London Brighton Beach Eleanor Bentall / Corbis
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Long before Walt Disney's imagineers created Cinderella's Castle, and half a century before Mad King Ludwig commissioned the fantastical Bavarian Schloss, a bored Prince oversaw construction of a building more improbable than either of these: the Royal Pavilion, an elaborate white wedding cake of a palace inspired by Indian architecture and filled with Chinoiserie and other exotica. It served as a love nest for the Prince Regent, later King George IV, and now is one of many attractions that lure visitors to this spa town on the south coast of England. Less than an hour by train from London, Brighton is sophisticated and bohemian. Stroll through the maze of narrow streets called the Lanes or take a bracing constitutional along the seafront, admiring the town's Regency terraces and squares. There are cafés and fairground rides on Palace Pier (a second Victorian pier, the West Pier, which has been closed since 1975, is slowly succumbing to the sea).

Those who want to overnight in Brighton will find everything from humble bed-and-breakfasts to lavish hotels, but two boutique establishments feel just like home — if your home is equipped with the latest electronic equipment and groovy bathrooms: Drakes Hotel and Hotel Pelirocco.

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