TRAVEL: OF THE WEEK

Sussex Arts Club

Where is it?

A five-minute stroll from the promenade that leads into the fishing village of Brithelmeston, better known these days as Brighton. But if you're not arriving by sea, it's a 10-minute walk from Brighton railway station. Address: , 7 Ship Street, Brighton BN1 1AD (tel: 01273 727371; fax: 01273 778020; website: www.sussexarts.com).

What's it like?

A double-fronted Georgian schoolhouse (in the early 19th century, the club was a school for expat Indian children; its most famous pupil was the poet Rabindranath Tagore), its interior luxuries are belied by the shabby street outside. It is a members' club, so you must ring the bell to announce your presence, and honorary membership is instantly bestowed on staying guests. The eight rooms (two of which, The Tinker and The Garret, are dinky singles) are exquisitely furnished with antiques, gilt mirrors and fireplaces. The ballroom, where jazz or salsa bands play on Fridays, has a magnificent Victorian chandelier and a delightfully scruffy terrace.

Ambience?

The ground-floor bar is where local artists and writers come for a bevvy and intellectual chit-chat. It's a long, burgundy and green room with wood panelling and a glorious teak bar from the days when the schoolhouse became a gentlemen's club. A deep Chesterfield sofa and velvet chaise- longue complete the effect. It is intimate, relaxed but with an edge. You never know who's going to ring the doorbell next; it could be Julie Burchill (who lived here for two years), Alan Bates, Gaz from Supergrass, or Ant and Dec, whose continual use of the mobile phone is frowned upon by Sally, the club's gracious manager. Children are welcome but must be tolerant of adults intent on play.

Service?

Friendly and effusive, or shy and retiring; they take their lead from you. Since Brighton is the home of dirty weekends, privacy is de rigueur. If you feel sociable, sit at the bar, and Sally will regale you with anecdotes of wild goings-on.

Rooms?

The Greene Room has a walnut lit-bateau; the Wilde Room is all art deco, and has its own pet seagull which flies in to steal your breakfast if you leave the window open. Mrs Simpson's suite boasts a four-poster bed. All have TV, shower, kettle and toaster. Price: pounds 65-pounds 100; pounds 50 for singles.

Food?

Respectable British menu served in the bar at oak dining-tables by eager- to-please staff. Fresh seafood is its strong point, but, given the club's hippy-dippy aspirations, vegetarians should feel at home. Excellent wine list.

Awards?

Who needs 'em?

Clientele?

From twentysomething putative performance artists to jaded roues, the whole of Brighton's raffish set is here.

Things to do?

Play backgammon in the bay window, breathe in the sea air, and if you venture outside (though there's really no need), do some shopping in the Lanes.

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