A popular pub with classic pub charm and reassuringly unembellished.
Any time is a great time to visit the Great Eastern Brighton, however it’s in winter that this pub feels like it really makes sense.
Entering here on a cruddy winter’s day just makes the outside woes fall off you. The Great Eastern Brighton is warm, inviting, jovial, and totally fine with you sitting on your own in the corner minding your own business.
Coming through the curved corner saloon door is like entering a wooden cocoon. Whether busy or quiet, there’s just an air to this pub which makes you feel instantly relaxed and at home. It’s pretty much eternal twilight in here and that softness of ambience really lends itself to drinking, often more than you planned to. It’s the kind of place where the larger tables are often shared between groups, yet in these confines conversations carry, and so it’s also the kind of place where complete strangers quite comfortably chat to one another.
The singe room is long but thin and It’s a bit of a tight space. On busy evenings, which could be any evening of the week to be honest, you can struggle to find a table. But if you do manage to squeeze in among the cosy-crampedness there are a selection of small round tables nearest the bar, bcoming slightly larger tables with benches or banquettes along the wall.
Outside the pub there are a selection of small benches which fill up with a lively rabble of post-work drinkers, then generally stay full all night. It can be a bit of a sun-trap here at the right time of day in the Summer.
It’s worth pointing out quickly that the pub is not child welcoming. Pretty understandable in a place this size.
I counted 10 taps and 5 cask pumps. There’s a decent collection of lagers and pales ales, most of which are your standard global, tied-pub brands. The cask is where it gets interesting and you can usually find a fantastic range of local and national ales ranging from pales to stouts. Long Man is often featured as the bitter and they usually feature at least on other Sussex based brewery as well.
The Great Eastern Brighton used to be known as a specialist whisky and bourbon location, and the range behind the bar is still really impressive.
There’s currently no food on offer from the pub, in the past the pub used to let punters bring Chinese food over from the place across the road, but I haven’t tested that out for some time.
The rootsy and trad vibes of the pub extend into their musical entertainment. Music is played most of the time but on Fridays, Saturdays and some Sundays the place comes alive with DJs spinning throwbacks on vinyl from a record player perched haphazardly at the end of the bar. Genres include: rock n roll, ska, sole, blues, jazz, reggae and funk. Their Instagram is a good place to check for what’s happening.
The Trafalgar Street location and reputation bring a healthy mix of locals and visitors to The Great Eastern Brighton. The unwritten code of table sharing, the presence of chatty regulars, the rootsy-ness of the place, it’s dog friendliness, and the great cask ale selection all contribute to make this atmosphere work so well.
There was a lot of concern when Stonegate Pub Group took over the pub in 2019, something that was fought hard by the pubs loyal following. So far though, all good. The Great Eastern seems to have been allowed to continue in much the same vein as before, and other than some tied keg drink options, the atmosphere thankfully hasn’t suffered and we certainly hope that remains the case. The last thing this pub needs is modernisation and becoming homogenous.
Great Eastern Brighton is undoubtedly one of Brighton’s pub gems and if you need any more persuasion, they also won Best Pub at the Brighton Bar Awards 2022.