I love going on a day trip to Brighton, especially in summertime. The colourful shopping Lanes and vibrant atmosphere make it feel a million miles away from London, and it's only about an hour's journey by train to get there. In addition to the great shops and the beach, one place I always make a stop at on my visits (if only to have a browse in the excellent gift shop) is the Royal Pavilion. It is one of the most interesting buildings within the city and brings a touch of the oriental to the otherwise very British seaside town.
The Long Gallery (c) Royal Pavilion
The former Royal residence of King George IV was build in several stages, starting as a much more subdued building in 1787 and becoming more extravagant with each extension. The transformation by architect John Nash to the Indo-Saracenic palace started in 1815 and was inspired by the style popular in India at the time. The outside is lavish and opulent, with beautifully ornate domes and columns creating a building worthy of an exotic fairy tale. But the eye-catching exterior has not a patch on the lavish interior, which is rich in colour and design, and filled with treasures imported from China and India.
Banqueting Room (c) Royal Pavilion
The inside of the former palace is an explosion of colour and decoration from top to bottom. There is so much going on in each room that I highly recommend hiring an audio guide, to pace yourself as you walk from one location to the next and truly take in the marvelous designs you're surrounded by. The first time I visited the Royal Pavilion, several years ago now, I did this and while I assumed I'd only be inside for an hour or two, listening to the fascinating history of the building and its former residents meant that I ended up spending nearly half a day inside.
Dragons in the Banqueting Room (c) Royal Pavilion
There is a lot to draw the eye within the building and it's difficult to pinpoint just a few memorable furnishings and designs. However, personal highlights include the dragons in the banqueting room, the Lotus flower-shaped chandeliers in the music room (which is my absolute favourite room in the building by the way), and a stunning handwoven carpet which has a warning sign for people to take off their stilettos before entering. Though I'd say to definitely not wear stilettos anyway when you're planning to walk a lot, like you would while visiting the Pavilion!
The Music Room (c) Royal Pavilion
While photography wasn't allowed within the Royal Pavilion (hence the snapshot of official images), the outside does not have any such restrictions and so I went all out taking lots and lots of photos. This part is freely accessible, so you can see the stunning architecture for yourself even if you don't hold a ticket for the Royal Pavilion. However, once you've taken in the lavish exterior, you'll undoubtedly want to check out the interior too!
The Royal Pavilion is open every day (closed only half a day on 24 December and full day on 25 and 26 December). Admission charges range from £6.15 for Brighton & Hove residents to £12.30 for non-residents, with various concession prices in between.