Your Weekend Guide To Brighton For Wheelchair Accessibility

4 August 2021

Is a part of you relieved that the popularity of staycations has risen?

No more waiting at the airport checking desk to be pushed through security, waiting anxiously at the departure gate to be taken aboard, and other passengers unintentionally staring at the process.

Although you’re off on a fabulous holiday, we know the dread of waiting for special assistance at an airport can be traumatising.

But this poses a new question: where should you staycation in the UK? We’re nothing short of lucky to have some stunning holiday spots dotted up and down the island.

And we think Brighton, with its colourful coastline, friendly atmosphere and wheelchair-accessible facilities throughout the city, is the place to come for a marvellous break away from the day-to-day.

We recommend you use the train to get here and leave the car at home – you won’t want to stress about where to park for the whole weekend.

So what happens once you get to Brighton? The facilities at Brighton Station make the transition from getting off the train and starting your holiday easy and relaxed.

A Changing Places accessible toilet is also on-site, along with areas specifically suited to wheelchair users with ‘call for aid’ devices.

Brighton Station is step-free and we have trained staff ready to assist wheelchair users on and off the train with ramps,” says Graham Thrower, area station manager at Govia Thameslink Railway.

Our ambition really is to give you a great service, giving more disabled people the confidence to travel with us and be empowered through the independence this gives you.”

Bags and excitement butterflies in tow, it’s time to venture off and discover the gems of Brighton, the smell of fresh sea air, bohemian coffee shops, and tantalising fish and chips guiding your way. 

We’ve taken care of all the essential places to visit. All you have to do is bask in the thrilling experiences, and make treasured memories you’ll want to keep reliving.

Where should you stay?

Boutique hotels and adorable seafront guest houses dominate the city. There are so many to choose from, but our recommendation for pure comfort and accessibility would have to be the Jurys Inn Brighton Waterfront.

After being dropped off outside the seafront entrance, you’ll step inside to luxury that backs off The Brighton Lanes. It’s beautifully decorated throughout, with wide door frames and corridors a welcome feature as you leisurely explore the hotel.

Settle in and unpack before getting to grips with what’s what in the room, overlooking the glorious views and other tourists making tracks to Brighton Palace Pier just across the way.

Your first night

We think you’ll be wanting to see Brighton’s nightlife from the get-go, but perhaps you’ve got a rumbling tummy after travelling?

An eight-minute stroll or a four-minute cab ride along the seafront takes you to Shelter Hall, a food market with a sophisticated edge and a nightlife vibe. Enjoy cuisine prepared by local chefs and mix with the crowds settled on the outside tables.

With a generously sized bathroom and a wheelchair-accessible lift, Shelter Hall has everything in place to be sure you can navigate your way around comfortably.

This leaves you free to immerse yourself in the wonderful live music, with the crashing waves against the pebbles as your backdrop.

There isn't anywhere like us in Brighton,” says Chris Edwards, events manager at Shelter Hall. “We are the only seafront food market in the city, have a capacity of over 600 covers, and have dedicated live entertainment on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.”

So, what are Chris’s menu recommendations? “Tough question! We have so much variety here due to us incorporating seven independent local kitchens within the venue.” 

Personally, I love the chicken wings by Pan / Lost Boys, everything on the menu by Amalfi and VIP Pizza, and the combination of Vietnamese salads from Zest and Hanoi Kitchen.”

The first full day

Brighton Palace Pier, the iconic landmark of the city, is on your doorstep. What better way to start your Brighton weekend at this spectacular attraction?

It’s a five-minute wander from the hotel, where you can indulge in a chippy lunch at Palm Court Restaurant and Bar with a pint of the pier’s very own draft beer.

Watch out for the kids running past as they make their way from one ride to the next. See what fabulous prizes you can win at The Palace of Fun, and be sure to browse the concessions for some marvellous knick-knacks to remember your time here.

You can even star in your very own vintage photoshoot!

A natural caffeine boost

Five minutes away is where you’ll find Redroaster, a gorgeous café brimming with botanical style and accessible features for wheelchair users.

“We have lots of regular customers who are in wheelchairs, so our staff are all well equipped for making sure we find the most comfortable spot depending on the size of the wheelchair and the requirements of the user,” says Flora McTeere, operations director.

We think it’s a great idea to come for a cup of their famous fresh coffee, and perhaps a sweet treat if you’re not too full from the chippy tea.

Maybe you're a fan of a bottomless brunch? It’s a famous addition to their already diverse natural and sustainable menu.

We’re extremely conscious about sustainability, and are one of the highest-rated sustainable restaurants in the UK by the Sustainable Restaurants Association,” says Flora.

As you peer over at the other tables, you’ll want to come back and experience one of Redroaster’s bottomless brunches for yourself!

SEA LIFE Brighton

It’s time to head back to the seafront for an adventure around SEA LIFE Brighton, the world’s oldest aquarium.

There are more than 5,000 species to discover, and the best way to start the day and get up close and personal is a wander through the underwater tunnel.

See how many species you can spot, from the magnificent sharks to the mesmerising turtles swimming above your gaze.

Ever wondered what a starfish felt like? Grab the opportunity at the rockpools before you move on to the hot and humid Rainforest Adventure, located in the rainbow-coloured Victorian Arcade.

But be warned: we don’t recommend exploring if you have a phobia of snakes and other tropical animals. The poison dart frogs and giant anaconda aren’t for the fainthearted!

Passionate about conservation? You’ll fall in love with the Conservation Cove as you learn about the aquarium’s efforts to protect marine life, where human activity is threatening 75% of coral reefs around the globe.

Sign a petition and be sure to take a sustainable seafood guide before you leave for the final attraction of the day.

Royal Pavilion

We suggest you take advantage of Brighton’s wonderful, fully wheelchair-accessible bus service to reach the Royal Pavilion. The Coaster 12 bus will help get you there in approximately 13 minutes.

Another city icon, the Royal Pavilion is the perfect place to unwind after an eventful first day. The ground floor is fully wheelchair-accessible, but we think an explore of the exquisite gardens is the right place to start before heading inside.

They’re beautifully maintained throughout the year – wild daffodils begin their invasion in early spring, delicate peonies shine in summer, and glorious sunflowers are on show in early autumn.

Once you’re inside, you’ll instantly be taken aback by the Pavilion’s history and different exhibitions here. But where should you start?

The Banqueting Room oozes regal elegance and is where George IV often held banquets with up to 70 different dishes. Spend a few moments taking it all in, admiring the Chinese art pieces and the 30-feet-high chandelier hanging from a silvered dragon’s claws.

Be sure to take a load of pictures, too – the exhibitions and breathtaking architecture are well worth a social media photo dump!

A staple of Brighton dining

Bohemia oozes a high level of sophistication with a strong sense of a welcome and inclusive culture. Wheelchair-accessible features are also a strong presence here.

Having a ground floor entrance, and with no steps, we are fortunate to be able to easily accommodate and assist wheelchair users,” says Verity Craig, co-owner of Bohemia.

We also have the front terrace area for outside dining, on the same level with no steps, on the historic cobbled lanes. Our disabled toilet is situated on the ground floor, again with easy access throughout.”

We keep Brighton at the essence of what we do,” says Verity. “Original rustic relics from the famous West Pier on our walls to the logs that we have on one of our ceilings from local best-selling author Peter James’s garden in Sussex; we try to keep it local but quirky and fun.

So, what would Verity recommend from the menu?

Our small plates are very popular, from padron peppers, beetroot hummus with pitta to our Thai-style tiger prawns.

Bohemia’s Famous Fish ’n' Chips, locally sourced cod cooked in our chef’s homemade beer batter, is a must, and to wash it down, grab a Rock and Rhubarb cocktail served with a rock candy!

Your last day of adventure

How should you spend your last day in Brighton?

First, we think you should indulge in a late breakfast at the Kooks Restaurant. It’s seven minutes away without the need for transport, so you can wander the city and browse some shop windows along the way.

The menu here is exquisite – you’ll spend quite some time debating what to go for as you sip on a flat white. But take it from us: the eggs Benedict with maple-glazed ham hock will not disappoint!

Brighton Museum & Art Gallery

Within the Royal Pavilion gardens is where you’ll find the museum and art gallery. It’s brimming with creativity, showcasing inspirational works from a range of fine artists, designers, and painters.

There are thousands of pieces to uncover, but we think an absolute must should be the ‘20th Century Art & Design’ exhibition. Works by Grayson Perry and Pablo Picasso are on display here, which signify major themes from art deco to surrealism and post-war design.

The ‘Queer the Pier’ exhibition is also another key highlight. You’ll admire the work of some wonderful performers, activists and writers who helped shape Brighton as a LGBTQ+ friendly place.

LGBTQ+ history can also be explored in the ‘Images of Brighton’ exhibition, as well as Brighton’s history as a prominent fishing town and its rise to a seaside resort in the late 1800s.

Once you’ve finished the tour, there’s one last stop on your Brighton journey to complete.

Brighton beach

What a way to end your first of many visits to Brighton.

You can hire an all-terrain beach wheelchair from the Seafront Office for up to two hours, leaving plenty of time to enjoy the sea breeze running through your hair.

A Changing Places toilet is also available here, giving you the ultimate comfort to bask in the beach experience.

Be sure to take a few quiet moments to reflect on this weekend, and the wonderful facilities available to make this trip to Brighton a seamless adventure.

There are still so many things still to uncover, and the city’s exceptionally accessible facilities make everything possible.