When the red-brick Metropole opened in 1890, such was its allure that special trains were laid on to deliver guests to the 700 room hotel. Sir Winston Churchill enjoyed pheasant and chocolate gateau in the restaurant in 1947, whilst later on Princess Margaret, Margot Fonteyn, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor all checked-in.
Now, after a £26m refurbishment, the DoubleTree by Hilton Metropole Brighton is back to its refined best. Tasteful Victorian elegance blends with contemporary comfort: air-conditioning, wall-mounted large screen TVs and bedside plugs for charging phones.
Twenty-first century expectations of space mean that those 700 rooms have been reduced to just 321 rooms, all a pebble’s throw from the beech.
Constructed from red-brick and terracotta, with wrought iron balconies, the hotel was designed by leading Victorian architect Alfred Waterhouse. His portfolio, often Neo-Gothic in tone but also eclectic, included London’s Natural History Museum.
Along with our keys we are given two warm giant cookies.
High-ceilinged, our sea view room is in prime position for looking down on the promenade’s cyclists, joggers and skateboards. Then beyond the pebbled beach to the English Channel. Two floor-to-ceiling French windows open out onto a lacy wrought iron balcony.
Even with a two-seater sofa, an oval dining table with chairs, a desk, two tub chairs and coffee table this is still a generously spacious room. Decor runs through a collage of light greys. The bed is far, far larger than those slept in by 19th century royalty at the nearby Royal Pavilion.
Featuring separate bath and separate shower, the brilliantly white bathroom has Crabtree and Evelyn toiletries.
Since Prince Regent transformed the quiet fishing village of Brighthelmston into buzzing Brighton this has been a party town.
Today, the Mettopole Bar with its sea views is a place to gather for a brunch, afternoon tea or cocktails.
The menu is pub grub at its very best. Superb sirloin steak, freshly sourced fish and tasty burgers. Sticky toffee pudding, chocolate brownie, cheeses and Jude’s ice-cream pull-in Brighton residents as well as hotel guests.
Breakfast is served in the 1890 restaurant, a grand dining room of Georgian ballroom proportions. It’s a breakfast buffet that includes every option: fresh strawberries amongst the fruit starter, plum tomatoes for the cooked breakfast, crumpets and muffins on the pastry table, plus hazelnut, pumpkin and vanilla syrups for coffee.
Again with sea views, The Salt Room is the destination in Brighton for both fish and steaks. Book a table to enjoy some of the best seafood on the British coastline: cod, crab, lobster, prawns, skate, sole and stone bass.
Waterhouse’s original basement Turkish baths have been updated to the Living Well Health Club. Around the indoor swimming pool are jacuzzi, sauna and steam room as well as a well-equipped gym.
Originally, the Prince Regent was drawn to Brighton for a “cure” that involved being full immersed in the sea by a muscular dipper from a bathing machine. Treatments at the hotel’s Pure Spa with its six rooms, manicure and pedicure suite, plus relaxation room, are far more sophisticated and soothing.
Although the hotel has its own underground car park with discounted rate for guests, it is but a short walk to Brighton’s railway station.
Once in pole-position opposite the West Pier, the hotel’s location has only improved since the opening of the slender Brighton i360 tower in 2016. Guests cross the road to ascend 450 feet for spectacular views of the coastline, Brighton town, the South Downs and on a clear day as far as the Isle of Wight.
For even more elevation and adrenaline-inducing adventure there is the extreme i360 experiences: a walk on the pod’s roof, a 360 Climb and a 360 abseil drop.
A visit to the Royal Pavilion is an essential part of the Brighton story. The domed Palace, Indian on the exterior, Chinese on the interior with silk hangings and dragon motifs, expressed the Prince Regent’s fascination with far away lands and opulent design.
Though ultimately his unpopular extravagant expenditure and increasingly obese figure led him to hide away from people as he took an underground tunnel to the stables for his carriage.
Other nice touches
A welcome card from the managers awaited us as well as a mini-box of decadent chocolates and a gin-and-tonic.
Bed and breakfast begins from £125 for a double room.
The best bit
On Kings Road, the DoubleTree by Hilton Metropole Brighton has one of the city’s top locations. Just yards from the beach, the hotel is well situated for kayaking, paddle boarding and swimming. The Lanes with their cafes, galleries, jewellers and independent shops are only a short walk away.
The final verdict
Sumptuously refurbished, starring quirky creative local artwork, this historic landmark hotel once again epitomises one of Britain’s favourite seaside haunts with a warmly welcoming staff. Reimagined for a contemporary clientele, today’s vibrant Metropole ticks all the boxes – excellent food and drink, fantastic location, great views and superb wellness facilities.
Dislcosure: Our stay was sponsored by DoubleTree by Hilton Metropole Brighton.
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