* Prices may differ from that shown
For those not in the know, Brighton is a bustling, "happening" seaside town on the South Coast of England. It's actually fairly famous for two things. Firstly, it's generally considered to be the gay capital of England and if you're heterosexual and, for whatever reason, unable to adopt a "Live and Let Live" attitude, you might as well give it a very wide berth. Just remember that you're a guest in their town. Its second claim to fame - and this is somewhat more old-fashioned - is as a destination for couples to enjoy a "dirty weekend". Not messing around in muck, you understand, but enjoying illicit extra-marital relations in seedy seaside hotels. Which, very nearly, is where this review kicks off, and also where it doesn't! I'm unable to comment on the joys of same-sex relationships. I didn't spend the weekend there. My own wife, Amanda, and baby Josh accompanied me. And the Hilton Brighton Metropole is anything but seedy. Far from it, in fact! I thus feel somewhat ill-equipped to give you the full picture, but I'll do my best anyway. There's a veritable plethora of hotels in Brighton, including some pretty seedy ones - and there are two Hiltons - the Metropole and the West Pier. We selected the Metropole and were far from disappointed. In fact, we were extremely satisfied. It's a large, redbrick building on the seafront with commanding views of the English Channel. Unless, of course, you're French, in which case you'll be enjoying views of La Manche. Same water, but different name! We'd booked on-line through hilton.com and had managed to secure an extremely favourable rate of UKP 50.00 for the night - or about USD 80.00. This compared really well with the prevailing rack rate, although breakfast was not included in the price. I don't really "do" breakfast, so this was fine by me. Even with a breakfast bill added on, you just couldn?t complai n at the size of the bill. We arrived and parked the car in the hotel's covered car park. This is charged at UKP 10.00 per night (about USD 16.42) and seems to be pretty secure. It's a bit of a walk from here to reception - especially if you're burdened with heavy luggage - so be warned! Aim to park in the lower section - you'll be much nearer the hotel entrance. The public areas of the hotel are well maintained and opulently decorated. It's clearly a clean and luxurious hotel with excellent conference facilities and has the ability to hold its own with the demands of that market. Personally, I was surprised by both the volume and choice of the piped music in the lobby, but that's a minor complaint. There was a bit of a delay when checking-in but, when we reached the front of the queue, the welcome could not have been more friendly or professional. We really were made to feel extremely welcome. As a Gold VIP Hilton "Hhonors" member, I was allocated an upgraded room (No 415), was asked for my preference for the free newspaper, given a key and shown the way to our room on the fourth floor. This, I have to say, made for an excellent start to our brief stay. A short ride in the elegant lift brought us to the fourth floor and, thence, a short walk brought us to our room. Every Hilton I stay in seems to have a different key-entry system and, once I'd worked out how to gain entry to the room by inserting the plastic key into a slot in the door-frame (of all places) we were in to our very charming bedroom. Travelling with baby Josh, we tend to spend a little more time than most people might, ensconced in our room - so it's especially important to me that the room is of a high standard. It also means you get a thorough review of the room! Everybody's happy! Here goes! The room was marvellous. The spacious, well-equipped bathroom with all the usual toiletries and fluffy Hilton towelling bathrobe was immediately on the left as we entered the room. Moving forward along the entry corridor and past the spacious wardrobe, we were impressed by the size of the room. English hotel rooms can be small, but this was not a valid criticism here. Plenty of space for baby Josh to run around in. And he did. But it kept him quiet, I guess, which makes for a very nice change! The curtains were drawn and, when opened, revealed a superb panoramic view of the beach and out to sea. We had a very comfortable sofa - which, on closer inspection, turned out to be a sofa-bed - and an armchair, with an occasional table. There was a bowl of fruit, complimentary chocolates and a bottle of spring water, together with a welcoming note from the hotel manager. All both welcome and welcoming! The bed was huge and extremely comfortable. Although it didn't feel like it, it was actually two singles attached together, making it about seven feet wide. The colour television was standard Hilton issue with all the usual features such as on-screen billing (which almost worked), Internet access, in-house movies and Playstation games. We were very happy and decided it was time to explore town. It was Bank Holiday Monday (I told you it wasn't a dirty weekend, after all!) and the town was alive. And there's a lot to do. A superb pier with funfair, a "Sealife" centre, and so many restaurants that you could probably eat in a different one on each night of the year! Not to mention the beach and all of the vibrant bars, which run the length of it. And then there's the people-watching! Being with baby Josh, we opted not to eat in any of the hotel restaurants, but there are three. "Steamers" is informal, brasserie style - and doubles as a nightclub at weekends. Apparently, it can be noisy until the early hours of the morning. It also boasts a bar terrace overlooking the seafront. I was really looking forward to a beer th ere, but it was closed by the time we returned to the hotel; which was a pity. The "Windsor" offers carvery-style food. The "Arundel", on the other hand, offers top-of the range gourmet food. So, essentially, everybody is catered for. In addition to these facilities, there is a Caffe-Cino, offering light bites and drinks and I just knew that you'd be totally unimpressed by the depth of my research if I didn't pay a visit to the bar. So, having put Josh to bed, I left him in Amanda's more than capable hands and paid it a late night visit. I couldn't let you down, after all! The bar was very quiet, although piped music was, again, being played quite loudly. Seating was comfortable and, although the beer could have been cooler, it was very reasonably priced. The staff were friendly and Australian - as it happens, quite a few of the staff at this hotel seemed to be Australian. I enjoyed a few beers and quite a few cigarettes before returning to my non-smoking room. As ever, I'd booked a smoking one, and they got it wrong. I'm getting used to this, though - and it's better for baby Josh, anyway. At least the windows opened. If you ever visit a Hilton hotel and see some guy hanging out the window smoking as if his life depended on it (and that's rather ironic, I know!), it'll be me! It has to be mentioned that on our return to the hotel after our evening out, we had received an excellent turn-down service; the bed had been made, the curtains had been closed and chocolates had been laid out on our pillows. All very welcome and only ever experienced before at five-star establishments. This officially-rated four-star hotel is banging very loudly on the door of five-star accreditation. We didn't try the pool, the sauna or the Jacuzzi, but these facilities are all available as part of the hotel's "Living Well" health club. But who needs one of those when you've got a pack of 20 cig arettes to keep you company? Morning came. Our free newspaper was delivered to our room and was accompanied by an express checkout envelope. I signed the form, put the key in the envelope and handed it over at reception. Check-out was thus simple, speedy and efficient. We left, having had a most enjoyable stay and vowing to return. There were some very minor problems, as there always are, but on balance, this struck us as an absolutely superb stay. The Hilton customer comment form always asks: "If you were the Manager, what would you change?" I was being totally honest when I wrote, in answer, "Were I the General Manager of this hotel, I would be justifiably satisfied that my team had got things as near as possible to perfect." And I think they have. Highly recommended! Andrew PS - This review seems to have fallen foul of the famous Dooyoo question-mark syndrome, and a capitalisation problem in the first few paragraphs; I've tried my best to eliminate these problems!!!