Behind the rise of the great British seaside escape
These Soho House members are choosing to up sticks for a breezier life in Brighton, but how does it really compare to London?
Thursday 3 November 2022 By Tilly Pearman
If you’ve ever contemplated a new life by the sea. you’re not alone. Last year, UK housing figures revealed that a fifth of Brighton homes were bought by Londoners looking for an escape route, and by 2030 it’s predicted that a further 23,300 people will have relocated to the coastal creative capital.
Among this group are a number of Soho House members, including Alexis Foreman, Kim Howells and Issy Lloyd, all of whom chose to leave their London lives in search of friendlier faces, cleaner air, extra space and a chance to be closer to nature. Brighton was an obvious choice for many, given that the vibrant East Sussex city has long been a popular destination for out-of-town creatives. Nick and Susie Cave, Norman Cook and Steve Coogan all call it home (Cate Blanchett also lived there until recently), and as of May this year, Soho House does too, opening our first UK sea-fronted club, Brighton Beach House.
Perched comfortably on the shore with uninterrupted views out to the pier, the House is a two-floor, Art Deco-inspired club imbued with the city by the sea’s unique charm. For the day-tripping Londoners – who come in search of a moment of calm, a dip in the banana-shaped pool and a dose of fresh sea air – it provides the perfect home from home. But for some members, one day wasn’t enough.
We caught up with migrator members, Foreman, Howells and Lloyd to hear how their life by the sea really compares to London.
1. The early adopter
Alexis Foreman, art director, content creator
‘I’d had enough of feeling skint and tired, so I moved to Brighton in 2002. I love how friendly the people are and I often have a little chat to strangers at the bus stop or in the checkout queue.’
‘I love Brighton because there’s less pressure to keep up with those around you. It’s very much a “you do you” place, so I think that’s kept me fairly stress-free and mentally healthy.’ ‘
You won’t regret moving here. It’s really close to the Sussex countryside, so it’s worth staying for a few days and heading out for day trips to understand how well placed it is.’
‘Weekends usually include some work in the garden, shopping local for a meal at home, time in the pub (there are loads of good ones) and a seafront walk on a Sunday. Sometimes we’ll catch the train out to Glynde or Lewes for a walk on the South Downs.’
‘Brighton Beach House is my go-to for catching up with friends over brunch, work meetings during the week, and weekend dinners with my husband at Cecconi’s. My favourite thing to order is the beef tartare, black truffle, and quail egg.’
‘I keep meaning to get into cold water swimming, but for now we take our dips in the summer. During the cooler months we stick to walking along the seafront.’
‘My insider tip for Brighton is for the commuters: grab a pre-train coffee from Coffee At 33. They’re only a couple of minutes from the station and it’s the best coffee.’
2. The family-first migrator
Kim Howells, creative director, stylist and founder of TITS UP
‘Having been caged in a small London flat, we decided to move to Brighton. The city provided everything we were looking for, plus it’s close enough to nip back into London.’
‘My breastfeeding initiative, TITS UP, works so well here as so many more mums are openly breastfeeding and talking about it.’
‘No one walks with their heads in their phones, people are really happy here. They’re not rushing around; people feel more present, and everyone is creative and unashamedly expressive.’
‘We used to always try and get away to do something on weekends, but now we just enjoy Brighton – the beach, picnics, pop ups; it’s quality chill time.’
‘I love going to Brighton Beach House first thing in the morning when it’s quiet. You’ll usually find me sitting outside facing the sea. Here, I get some good headspace, a sense of calm and plenty of work done.’
‘My insider tip for Brighton is get off your phone.’
Issy Lloyd, talent director
‘Nothing beats going for a morning swim in the sea before work. I moved to Brighton in 2020, mainly for the fresh air and space, and because it feels like a proper escape from the city.’
‘We’ve had such an improvement in our life. We now have a dog and spend a lot of time walking around the South Downs, swimming in the sea, and spending our weekends at local vineyards.’
‘Everyone is very friendly, creative and they have a relaxed vibe. There are lots of amazing restaurants and cocktail bars. If you do decide to move here, you’ll be wishing you had done it sooner.’
‘Weekends now start with breakfast at Cafe Rust, followed by a swim in the sea or a walk around the Lanes. In the afternoon we’ll go for a big walk in the South Downs. We buy fresh fish off the boats down at Portslade Harbour and have friends over for dinner, or we pop into town for dinner, followed by drinks at Soho House.’
‘An early morning weekday swim or a Sunday evening dinner (eating the lobster pasta and refusing to believe the weekend is over) is how I love to spend time at Brighton Beach House.’
‘My insider tip for Brighton is make sure you get down to Hove beach and grab a deckchair and beer to watch the winter sunsets.’