According to legend, the future King George IV sidled into Brighton (pop. 180,000) for some decidedly common hanky-panky around 1784. Today, Brighton is still the unrivaled home of the dirty weekend it sparkles with a tawdry luster all its own. Before indulging, check out England’s long-time obsession with the Far East at the excessively ornate Royal Pavilion, on Pavilion Parade, next to Old Steine. Rumor has it that King George IV wept tears of joy upon entering it, proving that wealth does not give you taste. ( 290 900. Open daily Apr.-Sept. 9:30am-4:30pm; Oct.-Mar. 10am-4:30pm. Admission £5.80, students £4. Guided tours daily ll:30am-2:30pm.) Around the comer on Church St. stands the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, showcasing Art Nouveau paintings, English pottery, and Art Deco pieces, as well as an extensive Brighton historical exhibit that thoroughly explains the phrase dirty weekend. (Open Tu 10am-7pm, W-Sa 10am-5pm, Su 2-5pm. Free.) Before heading out to the rocky beach, stroll the Lanes, a jumble of 17th-century streets that form the heart of Old Brighton.
Brighton has plenty of nightlife options; for tips, pick up The Punter or What’s On at music stores, newsstands, and pubs. Purify yourself at ilFont and Firkin, Union St. in the Lanes, where the altar in this former parish house now honors the gods of rock. Live entertainment and good food make this a place worthy of devotion. (Music W, F-Sa. Open M-Sa ll:30am-llpm, Su noon-10:30pm.) Sample the dark rum concoction at the trendy pub Mash Tun, 1 Church St. which attracts an eclectic student crowd. (Open M-Sa noon-llpm, Su noon-10:30pm.) Most clubs are open M-Sa 9pm-2am. Brighton native Fatboy Slim still mixes occasionally at The Beach, 171-181 King’s Rd. a popular shore-side club. (Cover £4-10.) Casablanca, on Middle St. plays live jazz to a predominantly student crowd. Event II, on West St. is crammed with the down-from-London crowd looking for thrills. Gay clubbers flock to the zany Zanzibar, 129 James St. for drinks and nightly entertainment.
Trains ( (08457) 484 950) leave from Brighton Station at the northern end of Queen’s Rd. for London (lWhr. 6 per hr. £12) and Portsmouth (lV&hr. every hr. £12). National Express buses ( (08705) 808 080) arrive at Pool Valley from London (2hr. 15 per day, round-trip £8). The tourist office is at 10 Bartholomew Sq. ((0906) 711 2255; www.visitbrighton.com. Open Apr.-Sept. M-F 9am-5pm, Sa 10am-5pm; Oct.-Mar. M-F 9am-5pm, Sa 10am-5pm, Su 10am-4pm.) Rest at Baggies Backpackers 0, 33 Oriental PI. which has exquisite murals, frequent live music, and many spontaneous parties. Head west of West Pier along King’s Rd. and Oriental PI. is on the right. ( 733 740. Dorms £12; doubles £30.) The rowdy Brighton Backpackers Hostel 0, 75-76 Middle St. features a downstairs lounge that functions as an all-night party spot. A quieter annex faces the ocean. ( 777 717. Dorms £11- 12; doubles £25-30.) Bombay Aloo O, 39 Ship St. is an inventive Indianvegetarian restaurant that serves an unbeatable all-you-can-eat special. (Vegetarian special £5. Entrees £3-7. Open noon-midnight.) Postal Code: BN11BA