Hotel Thistle Hotel 3 star
Brighton, United Kingdom -
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Amy Adejokun Section editor

It may be part of a chain of hotels, but this doesn't mean that the Thistle lacks charm. Sure, it's not a revolution in terms of design or innovation, but it is probably the most complete hotel in Brighton and goes a long way to meeting the needs, however particular of every kind of traveller. It has newly refurbished rooms and facilities, a great location, lots of space and a bubbly, professional staff which really make a difference. Unless you are looking for an especially unique hotel experience in Brighton or a something on a much smaller scale, then the Thistle is a very good bet for friends, families or couples.

  • Seaside
  • Family
  • International Standard
  • Well located
  • Flight
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    Location 3.0 /10

    Right on the seafront, just moments from Brighton Pier, the Thistle is more or less in the mix of things. It is equidistant from both the commercial shopping centre and the more quirky opportunities of The Lanes and North Laine, while the Pavilion, Dome and all other major attractions are within easy walking distance. The immediate vicinity holds a few tourist shops and restaurants and bars, while down on the promenade are also art galleries and of course the beach. Trains from the station, a 10-15 minute walk or 5-10 minute taxi ride away, serve Gatwick airport (30 mins) and London (50 mins on fast train). For those arriving by car, the hotel has a private car park with 68 spaces.

    Accommodation 7.70 /10

    There are a range of different categories of room available at the Thistle, many of which have been, or will be, refurbished. Standard rooms are of a very generous size and although only refurbished in part, are still very respectable, if not a little dated. They have a royal blue carpet, which is also reflected in the upholstery on the butler, as well as in the bed's plaid and the motif on the yellow curtains. There is a good, solid, dark wooden desk with flatscreen television as well as a table and chairs and a full list of amenities including bathrobes and slippers, iron and ironing board, trouser press, tea and coffee facilities and internet connection. The bathroom, some of which are dated, but clean and in good nick, has a bathtub with regular shower and personalised toiletries. These rooms are available as a double, twin or family and some have an oblique sea view. The deluxe rooms are appointed in shades of brown and boast leather armchairs, a bay window with table and chairs overlooking the sea, a fridge and simply more space. The executive rooms are sleeker still and boast plush beds with fine linen and red velvet plaids, smarter furnishings and cabinetry, a larger bathroom with Pecksniff's toiletries and jet bathtub and a balcony from which you can survey the sea with the binoculars provided. There are three types of suite available, offering much more space, and in the case of the penthouse, a private patio with dining table and hot tub. All the rooms are equipped with air conditioning.

    Overview 8.45 /10

    It must be said that however good a hotel the Thistle is once you pass through the front entrance, the exterior is unsightly! A huge concrete construction with blue tinted glass, it is an eyesore which ruins that part of the seafront. That said, guests will be sleeping inside in the newly refurbished rooms and not camping outside, so this minor flaw can be forgiven. Upon entering, you'll see the Otium gym right in front of you (more below) and a set of stairs to the right which lead up to the lobby and rather splendid atrium, which is quite possibly the grandest of all Brighton hotel halls. To the right hand side is the reception desk under a columned gallery and behind which are the some of the most pleasant and professional staff members to be found in the city. The lobby is centered on a seating area with comfy sofas and armchairs which themselves are surrounded by big green plants and even a few small trees, which makes such a difference when you walk into a hotel. Running off the central area are the bars, breakfast room and above, the restaurant, with the Pecksniff's Pamper Studio to the back. This latter, run by the Brighton-based fragrance house, offers a full range of treatments including massages, reflexology, manicures and pedicures, waxing, hairdressing and makeup services, as well as a few packages combining the above. Otium, at the hotel's entrance, is one of the best gyms in Brighton (on which £750,000 was spent last year) and has a top quality gym with the option of a personal trainer, a pool, sauna and steam room. The corridors, which have recently been refurbished, are still in great condition and are easy to negotiate, and have pictures along their walls of Brighton scenes. The whole hotel has wifi coverage, although this is chargeable, and there is a business centre for those without laptops. The Thistle is an entirely non-smoking establishment.

    Food and drink 7.70 /10

    The Promenade restaurant is where all meals are served. It's situated off the lobby, on a two-level gallery with views through the enormous windows on to the sea on one side, and of course the marvelous atrium to the other. It's a fairly smart setting, although aside from breakfast, doesn't seem to get that busy (this could be just the time of year we visited). Breakfast, served from 7am to 9.30am, is a choice of the usual continental offering plus full English breakfast and variants of it. Lunch and dinner are also served here and share a menu. Up for offer are dishes such as chicken skewers and crab cakes for starter and pan fried fish, grilled meats and salads and pastas for mains. Don't expect 'haute cuisine', but the quality is reasonable and the service friendly and efficient. If you want something a bit quicker and less formal, then the Atrium bar, which takes up essentially the central part of the lobby, serves snacks and light meals throughout the day, such as sandwiches, ciabattas, pizza and pasta and a few favourite Asian dishes., On Fridays and Saturdays you can enjoy a drink in the Waterbar, a fresh, contemporary space with large scale paintings which also serves snacks.

    To know

    The hotel was actually built for Ramada but was then taken over by Thistle and over the last few years has been refurbished on a large scale. The corridors were redone just over two years ago, the rooms, which are still being refurbished, were started in December 2009 and the magnificent atrium lobby was completed a little over a year back. With so much space and up-to-date facilities, the Thistle is a very popular venue for meetings, weddings and other events and can cater for several hundred people at a time. Dogs are allowed in the hotel at a charge of£10 for small beasts and £15 for larger ones.


    • Car park
    • Restaurant
    • Internet access
    • Air conditioning
    • Spa

      spa, beauty salon, sauna

    • Swimming pool


    • Seafront location
    • Facilities
    • Staff
    • Amount of space
    • View from restaurant/bar


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    • Overall Score nc/10
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