by Julie Musk
After setting off from YHA South Downs Way, it’s about 9 miles walking along the South Downs Way before you reach Brighton Racecourse. The last 1.5 miles is through town, on the way down to the seafront. YHA Brighton is on the Old Steine, facing the Gardens and Royal Pavilion, slap-bang in the middle of things and perfect for exploring Brighton.
Once the Royal York Hotel (since 1819), I felt rather guilty walking in through the grand Regency entrance with my muddy boots on. Such a beautiful place and location, I couldn’t quite believe it was a hostel and felt very lucky to be staying here. It only opened as such in October 2014. They have a strict check-in time of 2 pm, but you’re allowed to use the bag lockers (for a small charge) and kitchen, so I headed straight for the kettle to brew up. As it was quiet in there, I also had a sort out of my bag (and changed my footwear!) before heading to the wonderfully comfy lounge, overlooking Steine Gardens. It feels quite opulent gazing out of the large bow window beneath the lofty corniced ceiling and chandeliers. It’s also very cheap to drink at the bar.
Upstairs, the bedrooms are equally characterful. My dormitory had black wallpaper decorated with birds, flowers and butterflies. Brighton is anything but dull and conservative! It’s an easy walk to the Royal Pavilion, which blew me away. It’s definitely worth the extra £2 for an audio guide to the 26 rooms. Adjacent to the Pavilion is Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, an equally eclectic place, with an interesting display on LGBT fashion and transgender life.
That evening, I cooked up a meal in the kitchen, which was very well equipped, with a food share system (always welcome). The next morning, I reluctantly said goodbye to Brighton, vowing to return perhaps for the Festival in May or in the summer to experience more of this vibrant city. I headed straight out of the hostel, round the corner and set off west, along the promenade on my way to the next hostel, YHA Littlehampton. It’s a long hard walk (concrete all the way) but interesting, though when the Esplanade runs out at Hove I’d recommend jumping on a Coastliner bus. There’s not much point slogging along the busy A259 to Shoreditch when these buses run past you every 10 minutes. From Shoreditch past the funky house boats, along the lagoon at Lancing, on past the grand Worthing seafront houses and hotels, eventually arriving at YHA Littlehampton, it’s far enough on foot to allow yourself a bus ride or two along the way.
Images: © Julie Musk 2019