B&B and Beyond: Fab Guest, Brighton
Refinement rules in Kemp Town, says Tracey Davies, as she checks into a haven of antiques and designer wallpapers
Saturday 08 February 2014
Ever since royal party boy the Prince Regent held court in the Royal Pavilion during the 18th century, Brighton has been portrayed as a town purpose-built for fun. Centuries later, the city teems with pleasure-seeking hordes that descend to potter around its Regency Lanes, gawp at the opulent Pavilion, play the slots on the pier, or indulge in the lively nightlife and eclectic arts, music and food scenes.
Brighton's accommodation is no less diverse, encompassing anything from bland hotel chains flogging sea-view doubles to backstreet guest- houses proffering circular beds and dancing poles. Happily, the past decade has seen an influx of more stylish offerings, where the driftwood trappings of seaside chic dominate.
And now things have got even more refined. Hidden behind a powder-grey Georgian exterior on a quiet Kemp Town street lies an immaculate, design-led B&B with a style that rolls straight from the pages of Wallpaper*. The pared-back hipster chic of Shoreditch has arrived at the shore in the form of Fab Guest.
Fab's 14 rooms are staggered over five floors. While they err on the small side, they are extremely well-designed and comfortable. Those on the fourth floor will have you eye-balling seagulls across Kemp Town's chimneys, while the lower rooms overlook a pretty courtyard garden.
All in the detail: One of the bedrooms The main suite, the Fab Room (which is not quite finished) will have floor-to-ceiling windows with oblique sea views and an in-room bath. The rest have modern wet rooms, each with an opaque window inlaid with coloured LED lights operated via an iPhone app for hours of fun. Bare-bulb lighting by Nud zig-zags across the ceilings and antique pieces feature throughout. Freebies include Wi-Fi, bottled water and a welcome goody box filled with fruit, nuts and a variety of chocolatey delights from Tunnock's.
Like many guesthouses in Brighton, Fab's origins are Georgian – wrought-iron balconies and an original staircase that curls up through the house are two original features.
The Pavilion-grey hallways are embellished with uplifting messages such as "Every Day Beautiful" and "Work Hard and be Nice to People" by graphic artist, Anthony Burrill, while the guest lounge, decorated in bespoke wallpaper featuring Brighton Pier, is dominated by an 8ft orange Anglepoise lamp. Temptingly, every item in the house, from the antique French school chairs, to the Perly glass water bottles, is available to buy.
There's no kitchen on-site, so breakfast is supplied by Metrodeco, the tea shop next door. The feast is hand-delivered to your door on vintage crockery. I was woken up with a fresh bagel topped by a wave of cream cheese and folds of tea-smoked salmon, a bottle of freshly squeezed orange juice and Greek yoghurt. Coffee would have been nice, but instead I had to stagger down three floors to help myself to a Nespresso.
Fab Guest is the first foray into life as a seaside landlady for property developer, Laetitia Beatty. She bought the house in 2012. She then spent a year working with interior designer and curator, Niki Best, whose art, events and fashion background has given her an immaculate eye for detail. The best discovery is the flip-down wooden pew in the lounge, which was originally liberated from a Welsh church. A huge convex mirror on the second floor was lifted from a stricken ship and acquired by Brighton interiors expert, Alex Macarthur.
Kemp Town's central beachfront location and booming boutique hotel scene means it's a magnet for the weekend DFL (Down From London) crowd who come to potter about its antique shops, vintage emporiums and flea markets brimming with one-off finds.
Try William Morris Antiques (01273 607778; williammorrisantiques.com) or the Brighton Flea Market (01273 624006; flea-markets.co.uk). Fab Guest has a prime spot on one of the quieter streets, moments from Kemp Town's hub of bars, shops and restaurants but close enough to the seafront for the windows to be flecked with salt-spray.
Brighton railway station is a 20-minute walk away or a five-minute taxi ride (£6).
Brighton seafront The Pitstop
Kick back in the snug with a spot-on Amaretto sour at the Black Dove bar on St James's Street (01273 671119; blackdovebrighton.com) or join Brighton's foodies as they flock to 24 St George's (01273 626060; 24stgeorges.co.uk) where Sussex produce dominates the exquisite fine-dining menu.
Fab Guest, 9 Charlotte Street, Kemp Town, Brighton BN2 1AG (01273 625 505; fabguest.co.uk). Doubles start at £90; breakfast is £10pp.
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