Visiting the stunning Royal Pavilion, Brighton

What’s it like to visit the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, England?

It’s very easy to visit Brighton on a day trip from London. The Pavilion is one of the city’s highlights.

It’s a remarkable building on the outside, but the exterior only hints at what you’ll see inside.

I’ve been to Brighton many times, but only last summer I got to see the Royal Pavilion interior, and it was truly stunning.

This historical gem was the creation of King George IV, who enjoyed extravagant entertainment. The palace was designed to impress the guests.

You can see the interior on a self-guided tour included in your entry ticket.

Tickets to the Royal Pavilion in Brighton

Book a ticket to visit the Brighton Royal Pavilion in advance.

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Inside the Royal Pavilion

There’s so much to see inside the Royal Pavilion. Each room has its own style and decorations, and each room has an interesting story.

When I entered I was told to just walk from one room to the next – it’s a one-way route, making this huge palace quite easy to navigate.

There are members of staff in every room who are there to tell you more and answer questions.

The most beautiful rooms in the Royal Pavilion

My favourite rooms at the Brighton Royal Pavilion were the most lavish ones.

The Long Gallery

The Long Gallery Brighton Royal Pavilion

You enter the Pavilion through the entrance hall, which looks a bit modest, but that was intentional. Guests were in for a surprise…

As they moved on to the next room – The Long Gallery – the decorations became more elaborate and luxurious.

I noticed the small sculptures of Chinese figures and soon learnt that Chinese-influenced decor is a recurrent theme throughout the palace.

You’ll spot dragons, sunflowers, lotus leaves, birds, and other motifs around the building.

The Long Gallery was certainly designed to impress, with the elegant wallpaper, mirrors, glass ceiling, and beautiful lights.

However, all of these were just preparation for the dramatic effect of the next room.

The Banqueting Room

Banqueting Room Brighton Royal Pavilion

It is excessively stunning.

Everywhere you look around this room, there’s something beautiful to see, but the first thing you’ll notice is the chandelier.

It’s a massive glass chandelier hanging above the long dining table. Look closer to spot the dragons!

There are also some smaller chandeliers in this room, hanging from bird sculptures that seem to fly out of the ceiling.

The stunning decor of the Banqueting Room served as the ideal backdrop for extravagant dinners and parties.

The table is set as it would be in for a luxury dinner for guests of the Pavilion.

As in other rooms in the palace, you can easily notice the Chinese motifs: dragons, birds, and pictures of Chinese people on the walls.

You get to see this room twice during the tour of the palace. After you visit the kitchen, you’ll come back through to the Banqueting Room and see it from the other side of the long dining table.

The Saloon

Saloon - Brighton Pavilion

One of the most beautiful rooms in the Pavilion, though it looks almost modest compared to the Banqueting Room

I loved the bold colours in this room: red, yellow, blue, combined with gold. I also loved the vivid, graphic carpet.

This room was where guests would be welcomed, before moving on to the Banqueting Room for their meals and parties.

Music Room

Music Room Royal Pavilion

This spectacular room has a pipe organ and great acoustics. It was used for music concerts and dancing.

The rich decorations in this room also borrow from Chinese culture, with dragons, snakes, and lotus-shaped chandeliers.

Again the carpet gives the room much of its atmosphere.

More wonderful rooms in the Royal Pavilion

Royal Bedrooms Brighton Pavilion

Beyond the highlights, there are many other rooms to see around the palace.

The kitchen is large, with iron columns decorated with palm leaves. It lets you imagine what the work in the authentic kitchen might have looked like.

The bedrooms are beautiful but not designed to be stunning, probably because the guests wouldn’t normally visit them. Still, each has some fascinating decorations to see, lovely furnishings, wallpapers, and carpets.

Some rooms in the palace have displays about the history of the building, its architecture, and its restorations over the years.

The exterior of the Brighton Pavilion

Brighton Pavilion exterior

The Royal Pavilion stands out in Brighton thanks to its exterior. It’s certainly not something you’d expect to see on the English seaside.

It’s a striking example of the Indo-Saracenic architectural style. That is a blend of Indian and Islamic architectural elements.

The most obvious things you’ll notice about the exterior of the Royal Pavilion are the onion-shaped domes. They may remind you of the Taj Mahal. These are typical of Indo-Saracenic architecture.

Alongside the domes, you’ll see minarets, small balconies, and decorated arched windows.

These days it may look like an over-the-top, almost whimsical, Disneyland-style fantasy palace. At the time when it was designed, it reflected a fascination with the unfamiliar.

History of the Brighton Pavilion

King George IV built the Royal Pavilion as a pleasure palace in the mid-1780s.

Brighton was rising in popularity at the time as a destination for a seaside retreat.

George IV had a passion for art and architecture, and he was interested in Eastern cultures.

Over several decades, he hired top architects to expand his seaside home, gradually turning it into an extraordinary design gem.

Part of the historical significance of the Pavilion was in helping Brighton grow and prosper. That was by providing work to locals involved in the building and decorating of the palace.

It was also thanks to his luxurious entertaining of his guests, which attracted the rich and famous to the town, helping out local businesses.

George IV’s successor, William IV, also stayed at the Pavilion, as did Queen Victoria, but the latter didn’t find it comfortable enough and decided to sell it in 1850.

During the sale, many of the decorations and furnishings were moved to other royal homes, but some were later returned to the Pavilion.

The town of Brighton bought the palace, redecorated it to some extent, and opened it to the public as a tourist attraction.

It’s hard to imagine it when you see the Pavilion today, but during the First World War, the same building was converted into a military hospital. It served Indian Army soldiers who fought for the British.

Naturally, all of these transformations left the palace damaged. After the war, a lot of meticulous work was put into restoring it to its former glory.

Other things to do in Brighton

Brighton is a great day trip from London. While you’re there to see the Pavilion, make sure you see the rest of what Brighton has to offer. The city isn’t big and it’s easy to get around on foot, so you can see a lot in one day.

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Royal Pavilion Brighton UK

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