Hundreds of Georgian notables flocked down to become the first sun-seekers, making Brighton into the pleasure capital of Britain. From kids bouncing about on dance mats on the pier to pensioners bowling in Preston Park, Brighton is still the place to party from the cradle to the grave. An amusement park for drinkers and clubbers who come to take different waters, it’s still good for what ails you.

Grab your bucket and spade
It’s easier to get from London to Brighton than to many places in Greater London. With two trains an hour from Victoria and two from King’s Cross, you can be on the beach in only 57 minutes. While the beach is stony and the weather English, the southern light draws in artists and makes for dramatic sunsets.

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend
It’s one of the best places to shop in the country. The boutiques and bazaars of the intimate The Lanes and North Laine cater for every taste from vinyl and funky clothes to vegetarian shoes and antique jewellery. Not all of Brighton is quite so savoury, though. Central shopping area Western Road doubles as a pikey playground for squawking teenage mothers and their chocolate covered toddlers.

I heart Brighton

The Royal Pavilion
One of Russell’s disciples, a future George IV, built this Oriental monstrosity as his seaside retreat. Locals either love it or hate it, but it has come to be symbolic of the city. On the outside it resembles an op shop Taj Mahal jarring with its English seaside surrounds, but the inside is pure Imperial China, with brocades and huge dragon chandeliers.

Palace Pier
Since the Western Pier was suspiciously hit by fire in 2003 (its half submerged skeleton can be seen up near Hove), this structure dominates the coastline, sticking over a mile out to sea. Amusements are a-go-go, the excited screams of punters on the funfair follow the breeze and the ’30s make a comeback in the excellent fish and chip palais.

Pub crawling
The joy of a pub crawl in Brighton stems chiefly from the abundance of interesting people you can meet. The city is a happening place where the true melting pot of England becomes evident: ageing hippies rub kaftans with young clubbers; anarchists talk politics with yuppies and suits. The Setting Sun in Hanover and The Fortune of War on the seafront are hotspots to watch Brighton’s perenially beautiful sunset and off Western Road you can find The Robin Hood, England’s first not-for-profit pub. There are about 4000 other pubs to ensure everybody can find one they like.

Join the club
A smorgasbord of clubbing delight is laid out along the seafront: Concorde 2 on Marina Drive is home to Boutique, Brighton’s most famous nightspot and Fat Boy Slim’s old residency. The clubs aren’t always open as late as those in London but Brightonians don’t give up easily: free parties pop up all over the place and, failing that, 24-hour diners are dotted around for an early morning nosh-up.

Crashing out
Not as wide a variety of B&Bs as other places on the south coast perhaps but there are some good hostels, such as Baggies Backpackers on Oriental Place. In this city, however, sleeping will be the last thing on your mind.