Brighton or Bournemouth, which is better?
Which B-town is best?
Part of the initial charm of applying to Sussex for me – a Bournemouthian if you will – was the pretty scenery of the South Downs and the coast, the seemingly infinite nightlife and the charisma of Brighton itself. As a city, it’s charming and as a student has pretty much everything I could want in terms of a new home.
However, I constantly find myself drawing comparisons between the two, as fond as I am of both, and was intrigued to see which would win in the battle of the seaside towns, Brighton vs. Bournemouth.
As much as I love a good Prezzo voucher, Brighton pretty much has it all in the way of takeaways, quirky cafes, and Instagram-worthy restaurants. Whether you crave Asian, Gastropub, Vegan, Italian, Brighton has everything. Sorry Bournemouth.
Bournemouth has a myriad of coastal glory to offer tourists far and wide; from the beloved tranquillity of Hengustbury Head to the more upmarket Sandbanks, Bournemouth has no shortage of scenic landscapes to offer.
Although Brighton has the advantage of pebbles – let’s be honest, most of us are thankful that we aren’t all covered in sand after a quick trip to the beach – Bournemouth offers a lot more in the way of variety. This being said, Brighton pier easily trumps the lesser effort of Bournemouth pier – the Danger Mouse wins every time.
In spite of my minute student budget, I find myself spending far more than I should in the Lanes. There is no competition in this area, Brighton wins hands down. From the upmarket Churchill Square to the individual boutiques and vintage shops hosted by the Lanes, I never fail to spot one item of clothing that causes me to question if I should not eat for a day to afford it (we’ve all been there).
Having grown up in Bournemouth, filled with endless rows of shops that you can find more or less anywhere, the novelty of Castlepoint and hanging out outside McDonald’s wears off very quickly when everything more or less is the same. Brighton undoubtedly has a distinctive, individual quality that is quite unlike anywhere in the UK.
As a relatively new student at Sussex, I am still in awe of the endless amounts of clubs available in Brighton. The Arch, Shooshh, Wah Kiki, The Haunt, Coalition… I could go on for days. I feel like I have merely scratched the surface on Brighton nightlife. Having recently visited Komedia for the first time and having paid five pound for the pleasure of having watched a wide variety of comedians live, there’s not quite anything like it in Bournemouth.
I haven’t even begun to talk about the bars either, or the host of live music available. As a Bournemouthian, you’re limited pretty much to Halo for a night of pure sweat, the Old Firestation for a good alternative/student night, or Toast which will forever have a special place in my heart as the night in which you bump into everyone and their mum. Sadly though, Bournemouth doesn’t have the same variety of bars, live music venues, and clubs that we do here. Brighton has it all within a ten-minute walk from Old Steine – and can kick Bournemouth’s sorry little arse in the way of nightlife, even if it’ll always have a special place in my heart.
There are a variety of nice bars – but they are fairly spread out. Boscombe and Southbourne offer some lovely places to drink – Chaplin’s is a personal favourite and was recently named the best community pub in Britain, and given Boscombe’s questionable reputation I think it’s well deserved.
I could write reams of biased material of how brilliant Sussex is, however in terms of population we are the smaller university in comparison to Brighton, which is, well, Brighton Uni. Bournemouth boasts to be a consistently good university, and the Arts Uni is one of the most reputable in the country. On that front, I’d argue that Bournemouth is a better all rounder in terms of league table snobbery than the rivalry between Brighton and Sussex.
Despite the remarkable similarities of both being seaside towns right next to National Parks and offering a variety of higher education, I would put forth the argument that Brighton is a more exciting and unique place to opt to spend your student years. Bournemouth may not be the biggest in terms of shopping or nightlife variety, but it is one of the most insanely beautiful places you will visit in the UK – and so long as I live by the beach, the novelty will never wear off.