Artist Residence | The perfect getaway in Brighton

Brighton is somewhere you can plan an idyllic weekend escape, especially during the warmer summer months. This coastal city is only 30 minutes on the train from London Gatwick Airport, or 1 hour from London city itself. Known for its pier, thriving creative industries and nightlife, it’s little wonder that stylish boutique hotel Artist Residence is seen as such a destination and as a celebration of this quaint and quirky city.

Artist Residence

Located on a quiet street at the top of historic Regency Square and spanning two 19th-century townhouses, this quintessentially English set up is within a 10-minute walk from all the buzz of the city. But with everything you’d need on site, due to its well-rounded atmosphere you may not want to venture far at all. Upon arrival, it’s quite clear that almost every guest has made the happy decision to tuck themselves away in this hotel and not move far. In essence, this is an ideal place for couples looking for a weekend getaway to switch off and unwind.

Brighton
Brighton beach

Interiors

Artist Residence was so named due to its characterful interiors. When the founder Justin Sailsbury inherited the hotel from his parents in his early twenties, he enlisted local artists to decorate each room in return for boarding at the hotel. Brighton’s art scene draws in the crowds, so this perfect plan resulted in sophisticatedly playful rooms which feel individual yet part of a collective red thread.

Pop-art and posters and retro furniture makes for an eclectic vibe in each room, this is comfortable luxury at its finest.

Artist Residence Brighton

Artist Residence Brighton lamp

Bedrooms

With 25 bedrooms to cater for, staff are attentive, friendly and effortlessly helpful. When you walk into each room, Jazz FM oozes an invitation to simply chill out and relax. For where else would you rather be but sinking into their divinely comfortable beds or lounging back in an armchair overlooking Brighton’s coast? (And thinking how to incorporate similar design elements into your own home!) Soft furnishings – from the pristine white bedding to the textured cushions – perfectly compliment the neutrally painted walls and bedside angle-poise lamps bring a retro-filled nostalgia to each room. Finishing touches are mirrors and the rather fabulous artwork. If you’re lucky enough to bag the grandest suite in the hotel, you’ll find it hard to check out: a four-poster bed competes with a copper slip bath as the focal point for the room.

bathtub at Artist Residence Brighton
Bathtub goals!

Facilities

Should you decide to leave your elegant bohemia bedroom, you can head to cocktail bar The Set for a pre-dinner toast, and then sit down in their cosy, quirky restaurant The Fix. Here you’ll find hotel residents and locals alike sampling a delightful menu featuring creative yet tasty ingredients. After your meal, guests can play ping-pong in the basement before enjoying a nightcap. Each room comes with an inviting wall-mounted bar with red wine, miniature local spirits and nibbles to make your stay even more pleasing. Three course tasting menus start at £31 per person.

In short, this stylish boutique hotel is one of five (the other locations include London, Oxford, Cornwall and Bristol) and quite the unique, on-trend, fun and friendly place to eat, drink and sleep. Small rooms are available from £95 per night. Book now.

Love,

Stephanie

A little town called Durham

Whether you’re a fan of Harry Potter or not, everyone loves a bit of magic. Durham is truly a magical city, an ancient county, and one of the most beautiful places in England. You may have passed it on your way to Newcastle or Edinburg, but unless you study or live in the area, it is unlikely that you would make the effort to stop by this little town. However, I am about to change that, and hopefully inspire you to pay a visit to this very much underrated yet extraordinary place in the North East of England.

What to see

Durham Castle – This UNESCO World Heritage site used to be a fortress and a palace. However, since the 19th century, it has become the University College, also the home to over 100 students. Think the Gryffindor dormitory in Hogwarts. Book yourself onto a guided tour to marvel at the spectacular exhibitions, as this is the only way for general public to visit the University College, unless you are a student. If you get a chance, be sure to also visit the college bar – the Undercroft, for some cheap pints.

Drone view from above of the local landmark the Bowes Museum, a historic building in French chateau architectural style among gardens, built in the 19th century housing the art and ceramics collection of its founder and his wife, John and Josephine Bowes.

The coastline at Blackhall Rocks on the North sea coast. A shingle beach and cliffs. Sunset.
The coastline of Durham

Durham Cathedral – Located right opposite the Castle is the first of the two UNESCO World Heritage sites in town. It is also one of the first to make it to this honourable list, alongside the Palace of Versailles and Taj Mahal. The Cathedral is undoubtedly the most magical place in town, which I’m sure you will agree with me as soon as you enter its front doors. *Queue Harry Potter theme song* As you make your way down the hallways, it will be hard not to imagine the Quidditch scenes playing right there in the courtyard.


What to do

Walk around the Market Place – Not only will you find the usual high street stores on Silver Street, there are also many independent boutiques along Saddler Street. Every Friday, vendors set up their stalls in the Market Square for the weekend, outside the indoor market hall which houses over 50 independent traders. From fruit and veg, to arts and crafts; you will find everything in this enclosed but lively space.

Take a stroll – Durham is small but hilly. Several colleges are situated on the top of the hills. Except for the few infrequent buses, there are hardly any traffic. You are free to walk on the main roads, up the hill, down the allies, along the riverbanks or into the woods, whatever takes your fancy. If you want an extra challenge and adventure, take the route through King’s Lodge archway to a public footpath along Flass Vale Local Nature Reserve.

Gin Festival – this joyous event is held at the Durham County Cricket Club annually in May. There, you can taste over 100 types of gin, as well as attend exclusive masterclasses. Once you feel giddy enough, you can dance to the live music and devour some mouth-watering street food to satisfy those munchies. We know what it’s like.

Durham

Durham street


Where to stay

  • Hotel Indigo – a boutique hotel in the centre of the city, with a medieval feel to it! Despite its Victorian ambiance, the rooms are elegantly furnished for your modern day needs.
  • The Kingslodge Inn – a sophisticated stay in a tranquil part of Durham, still within walking distance to the city centre. Top up your stay with a full English breakfast or a cheeky pint at the onsite bar and restaurant.
  • The Town House – voted as Britain’s Top 50 best affordable hotel, this 18th century town house  only has 11 bedrooms to guarantee each of their visitors the most luxurious and indulging stay.     
  • Durham Castle – perfect for those who fancy a one-of-a-kind experience. The Castle transform into a B&B during University vacations. Caution: long waiting list

Hotel indigo Durham
Hotel Indigo (source)


What to eat

Proper Italian – Owned and operated by passionate Italians, La Spaghettata offers big portions of Italian delicacies at an affordable price. For more sophisticated options, pay Capriccio or Bistro Italiano a visit.
Burger heaven – If you like to get your hands greasy, Tango and Fat Hippo are your friends. They offer vegan options too for those conscious eaters.
Tia’s – opens only at 5pm, just in time for happy hour. Aside from their spicy enchiladas, they do jars of frozen margaritas. You’re guaranteed a good time!
Lebaneat – super affordable and authentic Lebanese cuisine, which an outdoor shisha shed.
The Cellar Door – Enjoy a posh, modern British cuisine and its relaxed ambience underground. Mind your head as you enter.

coffee in Durham

No matter where you stay or what you eat, you are guaranteed a magical time in this magnificent little town. I can’t wait to hear about your experience! 

Love,

Chantelle

*Chantelle is one of our guest editor from Hong Kong. She has lived in three different countries and have travelled across many continents. Having been in England for the past nine years and graduated with a Law degree, she is now taking a break in Paris for the year as she figures out her next step in life. Always passport ready, she is an expert at traveling light and on a budget, although she still enjoys the occasional indulgence in a luxurious holiday. You can follow her on Instagram.

The Better London – Why Manchester is the place to be

Whether you are looking for a city break in England or to settle permanently somewhere in the UK, Manchester is the place for you. How about London, I hear you ask. London is great, but there is more to England than just it’s capital. I am going to give you five reasons why you should go to Manchester on your next break, before you eventually decide to pack your bags and move there.

Experience the culture
Manchester is not only the home to two of the greatest football team (debatable but we’ll let this go for the purpose of this article), it is also the home of the longest running TV show in the UK, Coronation Street. Whilst the football fans can busy themselves at the Football Museum and enjoy tours to both Etihad Stadium and Old Trafford Stadium, the non-footballers can engage in some mind-scratchingly challenging games at the Crystal Maze LIVE Experience, just the TV show. If you’re someone who prefers a quieter and easier time, step into real life Hogwards. The John Rylands Library is a must, whether you are a Harry Potter fan or not.

Town Hall Manchester
Town Hall Manchester

From November to December, the city will be transformed into a magical German Christmas Market

As a growingly international city and with the help of both universities, University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester has attracted many internationals to reside in the city. The diverse population has also built the second largest Chinatown in the UK and the third largest in Europe! Here you’d find many authentic Asian cuisines and enjoy a festive celebration of Chinese New Year every February. From November to December, the city will be transformed into a magical German Christmas Market, with stores dotted all over the city center. Unlike London, you will not have to fight your way into the only Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park with thousands of visitors just to get your hands on a cup of overpriced mulled wine.

Manchester

Shop till you drop
Believe it or not, you don’t have to go to London to get your shopping fix. Here in Manchester, you can find three major malls one next to the other, and many more department stores and shops scattered all over the city center. Whether you are into designer brands or high street names, your needs will be satisfied either in Selfridges, Harvey Nichols or the biggest shopping mall in the city, Arndale Shopping Centre. For your convenience, the trio hurdle together in one corner of the city, only a mere 10-minute walk from Manchester Victoria train station, unlike in London where you have to walk miles or spend £2.20 each time you board the overcrowded tube.

Along Market Street where the entrance to Arndale is, you can find at least five different sneakers stores, a three-story big Urban Outfitters, WHSmith, Aldi (the cheapest supermarket), TKMaxx (for the off-season designer goods) and a four-story high Primark. You are most guaranteed to find whatever you are looking for. What’s more, there is a House of Fraser and a Debenhams opposite Primark, if you haven’t already bought enough as you wiggle your way through the crowd and up the street.

Should you prefer a quieter and more ‘sophisticated’ shopping experience, I’d suggest you head to King Street, where you will find various local boutiques, branded stores and pop ups. Although usually quieter than the main street, you will not be disappointed by the range and the number of shops you find here.

Manchester

If you find yourself constantly revisiting Brick Lane or Camden Town in London, Northern Quarter is just the place for you. Small enough not to tire you out but big enough to cater for your needs, whether that is a desire to treasure hunt in vintage stores or to look for your next Halloween outfit, Pop Boutique has you covered. Cow Vintage and Blue Rinse are just a few of the many vintage shops you can find in this uber cool quarter.

Manchester Food heaven
Unlike London, where you cannot enjoy the dining experience fully because you often have to keep track on how much you are spending, restaurants in Manchester are kinder to your purse without making you compromise on the variety or quality of food. Fancy some Italian? There are the sleek, high end Italian restaurant chain, San Carlo, dotted all over the city center for those who like to enjoy the finest Italian dining experience. There’s also Don Marco, which does an amazing lunch deal for £7 a course or £12 for two. Salvi’s Cucina is also an authentic option to go for! Fancy something cheaper? We have also your classic Carluccio’s, Pizza Express and Va Piano!

food in manchester

After that intense shopping spree, you need to refuel before you head home or do it all over again!

Just opposite Selfridges, Corn Exchange houses some of the most popular restaurants in the city. There you can find Vietnamese food, Indian, burgers and again, Italian. Across the street to Printswork, there are Mexican, Japanese and several pubs for those who’d rather enjoy their meal with a side of football. For those who enjoy a more authentic Asian dining experience, head to Chinatown to satisfy your cravings. Wasabi (not the London chain) is a more affordable and authentic alternative to Yo! Sushi and Try Thai does an amazing lunch deal. Its ground floor interior is also very grammable, which is always a bonus. Near but not in Chinatown, you can find the best Chinese restaurant in the city at The Rice Bowl – the perfect place to visit with a group of friends in order to taste as much as the menu as possible.

Whether you are coming from Manchester Piccadilly or not, I highly recommend you head to the Northern Quarter, where you will find the quirkiest and hippiest restaurants and cafes. There you will find the vegan legend – V Rev, where they serve the tastiest mac and cheese and vegan burgers! You also must not leave without stuffing your face with the BEST BURGER IN TOWN at Almost Famous. Get a grill-cheese sandwich to go from the Northern Grill. (I love it so much I’ve been featured in their insta!)

vegan burger

Save your pennies
One of the best thing about Manchester is that, although it is one of the major cities in the UK, it is much more affordable than London. It has basically everything that London has to offer: theatre – checked, Michelin star restaurants – checked, endless shops – checked, international community – checked… even employment opportunity is on par with the City, as many offices have set up their headquarters in Manchester because of the cheaper rents and lower expenses. International and national enterprises are shifting their attention from the capital city to this Northern capital because they realise that this is the place to be! Did you know that Tescos are more expensive in London than it is in Manchester?

The world is your oyster and Manchester is the ideal starting point

coffee spot in Manchester
Quirky but affordable coffee spots in Manchester

Gateway to your getaway
Should you ever run out of things to do in Manchester (impossible!), there are four train stations in the city, all fairly close to one another, to take you away to a town nearby or a city for away. Venture out to the Greater Manchester on a weekend and take a tram to Chorlton for an edgy brunch, or Alderly Edge to potentially bump into the Manchester footballers who live in one of the many mansions up the hill. Sheffield, Leeds, Liverpool or York are just an hour or so away by train and so much cheaper to get to than from London, which is only two hours away from Manchester! If you fancy escaping further and out of England, the Manchester Airport is easily accessed to by train, tram and taxi.

Even though the city is 90% rain, your mood will never be dampened by the weather because of the surrounding people.

Manchester is friendly
Because you have made it this far, I thought I’d give you something special. The final and most important reason of all, people in Manchester are much more friendly! You are more likely be greeted by a stranger with a smile on the tram than you would down south, where the image of miserable looking commuters on the London tube is no stranger to all. Even though the city is 90% rain, your mood will never be dampened by the weather because of the surrounding people. On top of that, the tragedy after an Ariana Grande’s concert a few years ago has brought Mancunians closer and the sense of community is so great it’s infectious.

Honestly, give it a go, get a train or book a flight there for your next trip, Manchester will leave you inspired and wanting more.

Love,

Chantelle

*Chantelle is one of our guest editor from Hong Kong. She has lived in three different countries and have travelled across many continents. Having been in England for the past nine years and graduated with a Law degree, she is now taking a break in Paris for the year as she figures out her next step in life. Always passport ready, she is an expert at traveling light and on a budget, although she still enjoys the occasional indulgence in a luxurious holiday. You can follow her on Instagram.