Have you ever been to the curious Brighton Pavilion? This oriental-style seaside pleasure palace built for George IV, a hedonistic prince, is open nearly every day for tours, but this
year, some of the rooms have been decorated for Christmas and it's open on some nights for candlelight visits... If ever there was good reason to play tourist in our own city at Christmas time, this was one of them.
So last week, Dan and I took a stroll up there, and here's what it was like...
Stepping inside out of the cold into this curious royal party palace with its grand entry hall lit by two giant sparkling Christmas trees, the sound of Christmas carols filling the air, we felt immediately in a Christmas mood.
We gathered in the dusky pink Long Gallery in front of a warm, flickering fire where we waited for our guide. Soaking up the atmosphere, I almost expected the Prince Regent himself to appear in a puff of smoke from the top of the bamboo staircase above, to greet us, his guests.
“I feel like I’ve got to know George very well in the four years I’ve been here," says our guide. "It’s like he’s always just around the corner or in the next room and I’m on the point of meeting him face-to-face. I’ve learned so much about him since working here – he was a larger-than-life character and history remembers him rather cruelly, but he loved life and people and was a great host.” Our guide takes us from room to room, telling us stories along the way.
Wandering into the Music Room, we can't believe our eyes. Eight trees sit nestled at one end of this exuberant space which was once used by George to entertain his guests after dinner. Imagine the parties!
The tree in George's personal apartments comes complete with origami stars made from the pages of his favourite books; Austen, Shakespeare and the bible.
In the North Gallery, a cosy table's set for George's niece, Queen Victoria's Christmas breakfast, with a stack of colourful presents waiting to be opened.
We wander along to the final room, the Great Kitchen, apparently George's favourite, where we sip fizzy wine and eat delicious mince pies by the 12-foot Christmas tree and daydream about what it would have been like as a real guest at one of the Prince Regent's Christmas dinner parties.
Needless to say this makes a great date night!
Find out more here.
Pssst! More from my Brighton guide: Brighton's most Instagrammable restaurants, a cosy date night hideout, an eccentric museum and a cool vintage amusement arcade.