Brighton is blessed with many fine pubs, but the one that seems to be the best-loved hides in the heart of the city, on the edge of the North Laine area. Although it’s an easy walk from the train station, locals outnumber visitors by 5 to 1 (said she, picking a random figure out of the air) and you’d have to come on a wet Wednesday afternoon in February to find it empty.
The Basketmakers Arms doesn’t have television or comfy chairs. There’s no music, live or recorded. The loudest noise is people talking.
Instead of a garden, there are a couple of picnic tables on the pavement outside and inside is just one large room. In the evening you will probably have to prop up the bar or wait for a seat to become available.
But it does have good beer (I’m no expert, but I gather its beer is good), outstanding food, and an atmosphere that will remind you why pubs are worth visiting.
It is popular with young and old, gay and straight, uber trendy and those in head to toe Marks and Spencer. It may be cheaper to drink at home, but you can’t bottle the good humour and friendliness of this Brighton Institution.
Bring your dog and a pen. The dog will be welcomed and the walls are decorated with hundreds of ancient tobacco tins: most have a little note or poem left by previous visitors. Add your own. Don’t be nervous. The literary standard is not high.
How to get there. Ah, that’s the thing about North Laine. I’ve lived beside it for five years and can still get…well, if not exactly lost then slightly bewildered by where everything is. It’s almost as if the quirky bars, designer shops, wholefood cafes, antique emporiums and yoga studios shift a street when you’re not concentrating.
Anyway, Google maps should serve you well. The address is 12 Gloucester Street and it’s about 10 minutes walk from Brighton Station and the same from the shopping malls at Churchill Square or the Pier. Maybe a bit more because it’s an interesting walk… If you get lost, find the Jubilee Library or St Peter’s Church and you’re only a couple of minutes away