Brighton Royal Pavilion
Lonely Planet review for Brighton Royal Pavilion
If you thought the current batch of British royals were an eccentric bunch, just wait until you see Brighton's crowning jewel, the Royal Pavilion. The exotic palace-cum-playpad of Prince George, later Prince Regent then King George IV, is one of the most self-indulgently decadent buildings in England and an apt symbol of Brighton's reputation for hedonism.
Even the forest of Indian-style domes and minarets outside is only a prelude to the palace's lavish oriental-themed interior, where no colour is deemed too strong, dragons swoop and snarl from gilt-smothered ceilings, gem-encrusted snakes slither down pillars, and crystal chandeliers seem ordered by the tonne.
The palace was commissioned by Prince George, eldest son of King George III, in 1787 and in 1815 converted to reflect the current fascination with all things Eastern. George finally had a palace suited to his outlandish tastes, and to boot he was now the king. His brother and successor, William IV (1765-1837), also used the pavilion as a royal residence, as did William's niece Victoria (1819-1901). But the conservative queen never really took to the place and in 1850 sold it to the town, but not before stripping it of every piece of furniture. Thankfully, many original items were later returned and the palace is restored to its former glory.