The Lanes are a set of curvy, narrow roads between the Pavilion, the city centre and the seafront (conventionally they are actually just the narrow pedestrianised alleys to the north of this area) and form part of the original settlement of Brighthelmstone in the late 18th century. Nowadays they are filled with shops, restaurants, the town hall and a handful of late night clubs and bars.
Just a warning if you're planning on driving - it's a one-way maze with narrow roads and little parking!
It's pretty difficult to know where to start if you're looking for a place to eat in the Lanes, there are that many choices! In the narrow alleyways of the offical Lanes, you'll find some tiny cafe's and a mediterranean restaurant called The Olive Grove hiding away, as well as a Thai street food place on the fountain square.
Spread throughout the rest of the area (between Middle St to the west and East St to the east) you will find at least 30 restaurants, not even starting on cafes, crossing pretty much every cuisine, with a mix of large chains and independents at every price point. Some places that are worth pointing out are Terre A Terre, a veggie restaurant (see more here) and Moshimo, which is a favourite of ours, a japanese restaurant sitting in the middle of Bartholomew Square, by the town hall. You can often spot wedding parties here, as it's also the registry office. The Giggling Squid gets a mention for a great name (it's a Thai place) and Indian Summer for having such a good priced set menu.
It would take us pages to get through all of the great places here - if you want to search through them yourself, check out our listings here, or you can have an explore and see what takes your fancy! With so many places, you can always find somewhere nice to eat, even without booking (though if you have one in mind, it's best to book!).
If you're looking for a drink, there are a couple of clusters of pubs on Black Lion Street and around East Street, towards the sea. Down Middle Street there is a great cocktail bar called the Twisted Lemon. You've also got Northern Lights on Little East Street, which has a huge array of flavoured vodkas.
Where this area really comes to life for drinking is with it's late night bars, which all have a bit of a mix between a club and a bar, with space for dancing, not quite so loud music and sometimes shows. On Middle Street, you've got Sticky Mike's (has an upstairs venue), Casablancas (jazz) and a Karaoke bar, whilst just around the corner on Prince Albert Street, you've got the Mesmerist (sometimes has a spontaneous burlesque show!) and on Little East Street, there's Doctor Brightons, with a quiz machine and pool table.
If you're looking for a more clubbing-club, there's Haunt on Pool Valley, near the coach stands, which does great 70's and 80's nights during the week and is open until the early morning.