Brighton is a pub haven – but for when the sun is high in the sky, or the night is just too good to quit, there’s no better place to be than a beer garden. Even with howling sea gales, Brightonians can often be seen heading out of doors, whistling cheerfully. These pubs, from Kemptown to Hove, feature the best eclectic spaces with alfresco ambiance to accompany a pint (just don’t forget the sun cream).
Gastropub, Pub, Pub Grub, British, $$$
From first view, the Black Lion looks quaint, even modest – a sweetly cobbled remnant of Brighton’s first days as it swelled northwards from the sea. But indoors – and out again – is a different story. This pub prides itself on its musical offerings, on through the night and, during the day, an impressive, studied menu of local provisions by head chef Pim Elderhorst. The garden is a fairy-lit oasis – a favourite among locals and visitors alike. Grab a seat, wait for the DJs and then dance the night away beneath the stars.
Heading west from Brighton’s core to Hove, the streets widen and trail away from the frenzy of shops and sun seekers. Here, the pubs are less densely packed, which means encountering a place like the Connaught feels a bit like uncovering a hidden treasure. This family and dog-friendly pub is a clean, airy space, filled with hand-pieced wooden tables and plush booths – a more grown-up space than many popular watering holes in the city. Outdoors, the garden is as close to a country pub as can be found so close to the crowds – with picnic tables atop lush greenery, dotted with flowers. It’ll be tough to leave, but it’s only a short jaunt back down to the sea.
Alright – so technically, it’s not a garden – but when the sea’s your neighbour, you build a patio and say hello. Recently refurbished, the Tempest Inn is one of the seafront’s most popular places to wine and dine – with crab, langoustines and prawns rounding out a mouthwatering menu. It can be difficult to get a seat, but once there, you’ll enjoy unbeatable views of the piers and pebbled beach.
With such amazing views over the city and down to the sea, there are, of course, great hills to climb. Once there, nourishment in the form of cocktails, ales, wine and a burger are in order to prepare for the trip back down. Just north of Kemptown in the trendy neighbourhood of Hanover, the Setting Sun is a local favourite. Get to the terrace in time to watch the sun descend over the city and the lights flicker on for another fabulous night by the seaside.
Mere minutes from the ever-busy London Road, up a leafy, Victorian mansion-lined street, sits a friendly pub whose name describes its nature. Featuring local artwork, with a laidback feel, it offers a simple menu of world foods to accompany a good collection of guest ales and local beers. The wrap-around garden is large but intimate enough to create a pleasant atmosphere among its patrons. A welcome, off the beaten path stop for a glass of Pimm’s after a day of window-shopping in the Lanes.
It makes no difference whether the sun is out – the Hobgoblin‘s beer garden will be busy, usually with enthusiastic local students. After all, why sit indoors when you could bundle up and face the elements? The Hobgoblin’s played host to several pop-ups over the years, but the kitchen’s latest incarnation is Doughbo, the ultimate crossover between street and comfort food. Balls of Neapolitan dough stuffed with all sorts of delightful savoury and sweet options – mushrooms, chocolate – even refried beans. All best enjoyed in the hubbub of a beer garden with a youthful personality.
This Hove pub has long been a destination for foodies and connoisseurs of local ales; its Regency stylings are at once ornate and homely and the two-storey terrace that feels like the erstwhile secret gathering place for 19th century intellectuals. There’s a bar here, so you don’t have to leave for a long while – and a wood-burning stove for when there’s a nip in the air. ‘Settle in, take your time,’ it says. We’ve got nowhere else to be.