I was invited down to Brighton a couple of weekends ago by Ibis Hotels – a hotel chain I have heard of, but never stayed with, so I was keen to see what they had to offer. The clincher, however, was that we would be VIP of Brightons Big Screen, who were showing Dirty Dancing on the beach! (The film, not actual dirty dancing. Unfortunately.)
The idea was that myself (and my best friend Jo) would watch the film from the comfort of a double bed. On the beach! How cool is that?! OK, it didn’t quite turn out like that, but I will get to that bit later.
(Just a quick aside, I absolutely love that picture of us above – it’s fab isn’t it? Really captures the weekend vibe.)
So Jo and I drove down to Brighton on Saturday morning – I always drive as Jo knows me well enough to know that I’m a little bit of a control freak and a terrible passenger. My trusty old Peugeot got us down there in 90 minutes and we were checked in to our twin room straight away. A quick note about customer care on reception – very professional, personable and polite. We were personally taken to our room where a small box of chocolates and a hand-written note were waiting for us. Give me free chocolate, and I’ll be a customer for life!
Our room was really nice with fully working air-conditioning (thank God) – the beds were a little on the petite side but I’m a sturdy woman so I’m only really happiest when in a double bed! But the room had everything we needed – a really nice view over surrounding rooftops, a clean and refurbished brand-new bathroom and a cold beer we’d brought up from the bar downstairs.
The plan was to potter around Brighton for the day. Good plan right? We started to look in a few shops but quickly got annoyed by people being in our space (it’s an age thing) so we found a Pizza Express in the Lanes and partook in a gorgeous non-Slimming World lunch – bruschetta to share for starters, a giant pepperoni pizza with a fried egg on top to follow (don’t ask) and a caramel and honeycomb concoction for dessert. I don’t know if you’ve been to Brighton, but it’s nice just to go there with no plan. To wander around the Lanes, window-shop, take in the chilled atmosphere. Oh, and have a couple of pints of course.
The one drawback with Brighton? Seagulls. The seagulls are as big as actual cows and this cheeky sod had his eye on us (and our lunch) and sure enough, a man at the cafe next door stupidly turned his back for one second, and the seagull flew down and stole his sandwich! So you have been warned.
Being the party animals that we are, we popped to a nearby cafe on the way back to our hotel and got a takeaway cup of tea, which we took back to the room late afternoon. Rock ‘n’ roll. We chatted, played music, read trashy magazines and just had a really good catch up. It’s very rare we are able to go away together without our children so we appreciated every minute of it.
8pm came around and it was time to head down to the seafront to find our double bed and get ready for the film. It’s always a little unnerving when your name isn’t down on the list – this happens all the time to me – but the man that runs Brightons Big Screen was kind enough to look after us, buy us a beer each and … then he explained that there were no double beds left.
Oh. I don’t want to dwell on it, and I’ll just put it down to human error, but we were really disappointed. However, someone found us a giant beanbag to share and we were still in the VIP area, originally with a good view of the screen (although that soon changed when a queue of people decided to queue … right in front of us), but we just got on with the rest of the evening.
The Drifters were singing on the beach, totally normal, the actual Drifters, and they really got the crowd going. It was a wonderful atmosphere, no trouble, everyone was just in a really good mood, which might be something to do with the huge bar on site.
Being sat on the floor instead of in a double bed proved problematic when it came to actually seeing the film, but I have seen it 47 times before so it wasn’t too big a deal. If we had been sat with everyone else in the public area, our view wouldn’t have been obscured at all, so bear that in mind – there is plenty of room for everyone, and even when people around you are talking, you can still hear the film clearly.
There are portaloos on site, but none of them were lit so it was quite funny to see everyone peeing by iPhone torchlight! So just a heads up to be prepared. Plenty of food stalls dotted around to suit most tastes but unfortunately we didn’t get to eat anything. But the burgers looked good, so you wouldn’t go hungry.
We walked back to our hotel after the film and were exhausted from such a long day – I think we must’ve been asleep by 11pm. #Hardcore.
They serve breakfast until 12pm on a Sunday at the Ibis, which I’ve never seen before, and which we both really appreciated. There is the usual hot buffet that you can help yourself to, cold meats and cheeses, and a great little water bath to boil your own eggs in! Cereals, coffee machines, gorgeous freshly baked warm French sticks… everything you could possibly want. We were both really impressed and could have easily sat there in eating Nutella on warm bread for the rest of the day, but wanted to go back into town so that we could walk along the pier and walk breakfast off.
I bought this really cute print from one of the shops by the pier, we somehow managed not to buy a bag of freshly cooked doughnuts, and spent the next hour avoiding all the bikes who had just finished the London to Brighton bike race and then headed home.
A fantastic weekend and a huge thank you to Ibis Hotels, the lovely Erica at Talented Talkers for inviting me, and Billy at Brighton Big Screens for allowing us to have such a memorable weekend. Shame about the double bed, but hopefully, there’ll be a next time.
Nobody puts Kate in the corner! They might put her on her beanbag, but not in the corner. A great weekend.