20 Secret Bargains of London
Insider tips on how to save cold cash in Cool Britannia's red-hot capital
By the beautiful sea
Possibly the world's first seaside resort, Brighton's pebbly beaches have been popular since 1750 and have recently once again become the favored weekend haunt of tout London. It's the perfect day trip: small, welcoming, with funky street life and gorgeous architecture. The Royal Pavilion (4-5 Pavilion Buildings, Brighton, tel. 1273/290-900), George V's impossibly lavish Oriental-style former palace, is legitimately one of Britain's most impressive attractions; entrance costs £4.90 ($7.25), but it is worth paying an extra £1.25 ($1.80) for the guided tours at 11.30 a.m. and 2.30 p.m. The rest of your day trip need cost nothing; amble around the town's pretty, narrow streets, on the beach, and along Brighton Pier. You can also hire a deck chair (£1 or so) and park easy with a cone of chips from a beachside stall. Numerous restaurants and cafes extend great lunchtime deals; you're guaranteed a blowout with the all-you-can-eat buffet, £4.95 ($7.25) at Bombay Aloo (39 Ship St., Brighton, 1273/776-038). Buses are the cheapest way to make the trip, leaving hourly from Victoria Coach Station (a short walk from the train station). Call National Express Coaches (tel. 8705/808-080 or gobycoach.com) or book from home at 540/298-1395 or online at britbus.com (for a 10 percent discount off the usual £12.50, or $18.50). Trains leave Victoria rail station twice hourly and cost £13.70 ($20.25); call 345/484-950. Visit visit brighton.com or call the tourist office at 906/711-2255 from the U.K. only.