As a regular visitor to Brighton, I am always looking for hidden gems in the city and, while it might seem unlikely to find one in a chain hotel, the boutique Hotel du Vin manages to encapsulate the vibrant character of Brighton by providing unique accommodation and quality dining.
In addition to the 38 individually designed rooms in the Hotel, named after famous wine houses, there are 11 further rooms over the neighboring Pub du Vin, named after celebrated brewers and local areas of interest. The Pub du Vin is a new concept for the brand; the bar area is light, cheerful and a good place for an informal lunch from its own tasty menu, as an alternative to the more formal Bistro inside the Hotel.
On arrival, we are shown to a junior suite called ‘Beachy Head’ in the Pub side of the building. There are a number of thoughtful little touches that are common to all rooms, including Nespresso machines and B&W Zeppelin iPod docking stations so you can enjoy your personal soundtrack while away from home. The sand and stone colours from the Pub are continued through the rooms and there are some well placed pieces of decorative driftwood. However, there are also some striking differences to be explored. ‘Beachy Head’ has a roll-top bath placed in the bay of the window and a 10ft wide double monsoon shower in the bathroom, which is accessed by double doors. On the Hotel side, the decor is wine-inspired burgundy and claret. The best rooms have sea views which can be enjoyed from the bed, from the twin baths or through a telescope and the stunning Cristal loft suite also has a private terrace.
Brighton may be known as a ‘dirty weekend’ destination but, after a long journey, it was heavenly to sink deep into mountains of cleansing bubbles in the bath, listening to relaxing music and drinking bubbles of another kind. Once prepared for dinner, we stopped for cocktails in the bar, which has the masculine yet cosy feel of a traditional gentlemen’s club and is overlooked by wooden seagulls and a funky mural of a busy bar scene. Living up to its name, the Hotel du Vin holds wine events in the Lavroche tasting room which allow guests to sample wine from over 700 bins, guided by top sommeliers. There is also a walk-in humidor and, after my previous cigar adventures, I was pleased to find a designated cigar smoking area ouside, complete with leather sofas, heater and blankets to keep out the cold seaside wind.
The dining room has the same grand atmosphere, although the spirit of Brighton creeps into the quirky decor. As in the Hotel and Pub, the staff in the Bistro are very helpful and attentive and the food was delightful.
We began by sharing two starters, the Chicken Liver and Foie Gras Parfait with Onion Marmalade and Toasted Brioche and the Duck Rillettes with Celeriac and Apple Remoulade. The parfait was smooth and subtle, while the rillettes were rich and both contrasted wonderfully in texture to the crisp breads. We moved on to Pollock with Wilted Spinach and Clams in Garlic Butter and the Hotel du Vin’s eponymous burger. Both portions were exceedingly generous, unpretentious and full of flavour. To round off the meal, I succumbed to the wishes of my inner chocoholic and chose a Trio of Chocolate Desserts while my partner had creme brulee – both were divine.
We were able to enjoy the cooking again over a breakfast of Eggs Benedict and Florentine and before we left, ever thorough, I made a point of trying out the monsoon shower. There is nothing as refreshing as a cascade of water falling straight onto your head and, with two in this room, there were no arguments about who was going to go first. If you want to stay somewhere with understated class, Brighton’s Hotel and Pub du Vin are great choices. And you might find it’s the perfect place for a dirty weekend, even if it’s only an excuse to get clean again.
Hotel du Vin & Bistro Brighton
Sussex BN1 1AD