How do you ‘do’ Brighton? In my teens, as a student, I’d travel up in the evening, go to clubs, party all night, and get home to bed by 9am.
Then when I started working and had a bit of cash in my pocket it was shopping in the myriad vintage stores, rifling through velvet flares, sheepskin jackets then a veggie lunch and drinks in one of the many quirky bars. A bit of a cliché.
So as I edge ever closer to the big 4-0, I thought it high time I experienced a different side to Brighton - luxury and relaxation.
But can you really find luxury in the seaside town synonymous with being the place you head to if you want to experience a taste of the alternative lifestyle?
You most certainly can.
I’m not sure about you, but I always imagined The Grand as being yet another faded seaside hotel.
I could not have been more wrong. What I found was pure, unadulterated luxury.
From the moment the doorman in the quirky bowler hat opened the doors to the magnificent Victorian building, it was though we have travelled back in time to a bygone era of elegance.
It is jaw-droppingly beautiful. The huge winding staircase prompted one American visitor to look up at the central domed ceiling and exclaim, ‘Wow, it looks like the Titanic!’
The fireplaces are really ornate and in just one of the lovely things about the hotel you find throughout your stay, you can download an app which takes you on a historic journey through the building - a nod to the future while looking into the past.
There were lots of staff fussing around us, asking if they could help. In fact, I’ve never seen so many attentive staff at a hotel. It was wonderful.
Every guest is made to feel special. I had left my comb at home - they rushed a fresh one up to our room within minutes.
Which brings me to our room - wow. It was a fabulous suite on the sixth floor with a balcony overlooking the sea.
Though it was a murky day, the misty ocean took on a romantic quality and with the room being so gorgeous we didn’t want to leave. It was huge - the bed was big enough for four people - so we made the most of it and took a nap before heading down to the spa.
Slipping into the robes and slippers in our room, we took the lift down to the Subterranean Spa where we were greeted by therapists with trays of bubbly and fresh berries which was a welcome treat.
There was a really wide choice of weird and wonderful treatments - from a Bee Sting facial to a hydrotherm massage with warm water cushions.
I forgot to book ahead and they were very busy but nothing was too much trouble. They juggled things around to fit me in for a 30 minute head, neck and shoulder massage which was heavenly. I didn’t want it to end. So afterwards, while my companion made use of the thermal suite of sauna and steam room, I sloped off to the relaxation lounge.
It was the essence of calm. Beautiful pastel furnishings, beds, and little hideaways with sheer curtains and low lights. Curled up on one of the comfy sofas, I covered myself with a soft blanket and promptly fell asleep! A sign that the stresses were simply melting away in the peaceful atmosphere.
My only criticism is that it didn’t have a pool, otherwise we would have stayed there all day.
And it was spotlessly clean - sometimes even the nicest spas can be a bit grubby here and there - and the staff were very knowledgeable and attentive.
We dressed for dinner in the double AA rosette seafood bar and restaurant, GB1, and were given a sea view table to watch as dusk fell.
Again, our waiters could not have been more attentive. They made some great recommendations and knew all about the provenance of the food.
Scallops and scotch eggs to start were accompanied by a fantastic chenin blanc.
We switched to sancerre for our mains of locally-caught haddock and chips, and sea bass.
It was one of those meals where you enjoy every morsel - and how often can you say that?
Our original plan was to head out to a club after dinner but we were so happy where we were, we ditched the idea and retired to our suite with full bellies and the glow of tranquillity.
The one downside was the room was far too hot overnight, but I have never come across a hotel that could get the temperature right.
The service was second to none - it’s exactly what you want from a weekend in a fancy hotel - to be made to feel special.
The Grand Brighton seamlessly combines the old and the new and is everything a hotel should be in 2019 - it is jaw-droppingly beautiful, the service is perfect and it has the kind of touches that make the experience unforgettable.
It is elegant, sophisticated and we cannot wait to return.
The Grand Brighton, is 97-99 King’s Road, Bright.
It is just 10 minutes walk from Brighton Railway Station.
There are more than 200 luxury rooms and there are spa package deals available.
For more information go to grandbrighton.co.uk.