Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Vacation! Motel Schmotel

Motel Schmotel
37 Russell Square
Brighton, Sussex

Knowing our great love for the seaside city of Brighton (we want to retire there!), our dear friends Jane & Paul gifted us an overnight stay at a wonderfully funky bed & breakfast for Steve's birthday. Motel Schmotel, a lovely five-storey Regency town house, is situated just a few minutes walk to the beach, pier and eclectic shopping areas like The Lanes, making it a perfect spot to enjoy our favorite British city.

The B&B may look quaint from the outside, but the rooms inside are bang-up-to-date with contemporary furnishings and flair. The proprietors, Paul & Amsy, are a friendly young couple whose environmentally-friendly ethic is apparent throughout the building: organic cotton bedding, locally-sourced organic food, free-trade coffees and teas, and environmentally-safe personal amenities like soap and shampoo. We were especially pleased to find a small container filled with fresh milk for our tea inside the mini-fridge, instead of the tiny plastic tubs of creamer one usually encounters in hotels and restaurants. It is this eye for detail that has won the B&B several tourist-industry awards since it opened last year.

The rooms at Motel Schmotel might feel small when compared with American-standard hotel rooms, but they are well-planned and comfortable. We were fortunate to have a balcony suite overlooking Regency Square, where we sat and enjoyed a cuppa while watching students from Brighton University wander by.

Our room and balcony

The room was only part of what makes Motel Schmotel such a nice place to stay, however. The list of potential breakfast items had us salivating, and it was very difficult to choose what we wanted. Since we had already booked a table in the finest vegetarian restaurant in the city (more on that next), I knew better than to order a big breakfast the next morning, even though the thought of organic vegetarian sausages and free-range eggs with whole-meal toast certainly appealed. Instead I opted for a sensible breakfast of Scottish porridge oats with wholemeal toast, maple syrup and fresh fruit. Ahhh...

Breakfast in bed!

Scottish porridge oats with maple syrup and fresh fruit. YUM!

Steve's organic fry-up made him a very happy boy

There is so much to do in Brighton that it is difficult to fit in everything, but a visit to the pier is a must. Brighton is first and foremost a seaside city, "London by the Sea" as it is sometimes called. I can easily admit that I'd much rather visit Brighton than London any day. Brighton has everything the capital does - plus the sea! Ok, ok, Brighton may not have the London Eye or Big Ben, but it does have the Royal Pavilion, and one of the best collections of Regency and Victorian architecture in the world. It's also got a fabulous array of independentally-owned shops, restaurants and clubs, and is probably the most tolerant city I've ever encountered. It is little wonder that there is a thriving GLBT community here. And unlike London, everyone is very friendly.

Looking in the window of a pasty shop

Brighton's seafront and pier. Even in less-than-perfect weather, it's the perfect seaside city.

Fish & Chip Shop on Brighton Pier

Steve was craving fishcakes, and I helped him with the chips. Is there anything better than fresh, thick-cut chips fried before your eyes?

The Royal Pavilion at night

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