The Art House, East Sussex: B&B and beyond

The creative decor and personal touch at this converted terrace make for a charming seaside stay, says Lisa Markwell
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The Independent Travel

You'd have to be the most dedicated of Brighton fans to love it at the moment – the seafront is an utter mess, with diggers on the beach, a maddening chicane in front of the conference centre, and the relentless onslaught of the generic and the touristy.

Five minutes down the road in Hove, however, things are moving in a different direction. The wide avenues feel stylish and calm, and the cluster of independent shops, bars, and restaurants keeps on growing. On one of these wide avenues, two blocks back from the front, stands The Art House – an elegant Edwardian terraced home with wide steps up to the front door and a crisp paint job.

The Bed

Inside the house it's quickly clear that the owners love art – one of them creates it, in fact. Mosaic pieces are in every room, while vintage and modern furniture combine to make this firmly a home that you're visiting. On the ground floor, a wide open kitchen/diner has a door down to a pretty garden; up past the hosts' bedrooms are three rooms for guests on the top floor. It should be said, this is not the place for those who can't easily manage stairs.

There are two marvellously colourful, expansive rooms (and a smaller single) with two beautifully tiled bathrooms (not en suite).

With the sash windows open and the sun dappling the ceiling, it's a delightful place to have a lie-in. The huge beds with blousy duvets are blissful, while vintage ladders make a stylish alternative to wardrobes. Fresh roses from the garden scent the pristine bathroom, which has the kind of shower usually only found in US hotels – super powerful and big enough actually to move around in.

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The Art House: a bedroom (The Art House)

The Breakfast

Even though this is a baby B&B, the owners want to make sure they have enough time to get breakfast right, so you fill out your choices the night before. It might be the full English, or scrambled eggs with smoked salmon – it'll be cooked and ready at the time you specify. Home-made muesli, jams, yoghurts and a big bowl of fresh chopped fruit greets you through the stained-glass-panelled door to the kitchen/diner. Although there are good indie coffee shops nearby it's worth getting set up for the day at the Art House.

The Hosts

Over a welcome drink in the garden, Dexter and Elizabeth Tiranti share the story of how they arrived here. The house belonged to Dexter's mother and – having met Liz on an artistic retreat in Greece – when it became his home they decided to open it to paying visitors. Initially the B&B was designed for guests booked in to study Liz's mosaic courses in her charming garden studio, but she is now concentrating on private commissions (although if you'd like to learn her craft, do ask in advance).

Dexter does more of the guest-related business – in fact, everything from bookings and paperwork to creating the pottery bowls the breakfast jams are displayed in (Liz's artistic streak is spreading).

The Weekend

If you missed the London-to-Brighton bike ride (which any sane city person would combine with an overnight on the coast to avoid the clash of pedals on the way back to London), but you're keen on a bit of exercise – consider a weekend in Hove that includes the Brighton-to-Brighton bike ride. It takes place on Sunday 28 September, and there are five routes, for everyone from potterers to racers, that loop out of and back into the seaside (bit.ly/B2Bcycle).

The Pit-stop

Ground in Hove (another branch in Kemptown; groundcoffeehouses.com) is where to head for a really excellent coffee or tea and a pastry before you head to the beach. Also brand new is Silo in Brighton, a café/restaurant that promises zero food waste (silobrighton.com).

64 Degrees – rising star chef Michael Bremner's place along the coast in Brighton – is well worth a visit. His stark menu belies a fantastically detailed and imaginative array of dishes. Catch him before he opens in London later this year (64degrees.co.uk).

If you are craving spice and feeling adventurous, the Unithai supermarket 30 seconds from The Art House has a few tables and chairs at the back, and serves punchy Asian classics with no fuss but lots of flavour. Cheap too!

The essentials

The Art House Hove, 27 Wilbury Road, Brighton & Hove, BN3 3PB (01273 775350; thearthousehove.co.uk). Rooms start at £65, including breakfast. A minimum two-night stay is required at weekends.

There is pay-and-display parking directly outside the house; Hove station is five minutes away and there are regular buses to Brighton.

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