With its lumpy pebbles and variable weather Brighton and Hove is not what most holidaymakers would imagine for their ideal beach paradise.
But according to travel experts our stony shoreline is the match of Rio, Miami and Sydney.
Lonely Planet has named Brighton and Hove among the top ten cities with brilliant beaches in the world, alongside some of the most exotic and sun-baked of destinations.
The guide described the beach as perfect for “midday sunbathing or midnight partying” – even though it has pebbles and not sand.
Figures from the city’s tourism body Visit Brighton show the beach is a big draw for the city, with nearly three-quarters of visitors going there as part of their trip.
Businesses along the city’s seafront were quick to agree even on days like yesterday, when beachgoers were huddled together for warmth in temperatures hovering at 4C – while in Cape Town sunseekers basked in 26C sun.
Laurence Hill, the manager of the Fortune of War pub in Kings Road, said the seafront had improved a lot in recent years and was now cleaner and had better facilities.
He added: “Obviously the weather is a bit better in Rio but there’s a great atmosphere on the beach even during the winter. It would be fantastic if they could take some of the stones away and put in some sand instead.”
Ruth Lewis, the artistic director at Daniel Laurence Home and Garden in Kings Road Arches, said: “Is it as good as Rio or Sydney? It depends on what you like.
"I love the changes of the seasons here, which you wouldn’t get in those other places. It’s just a really nice beach. It is used every day of the year.”
Geoffrey Bowden, the chair of the city’s economic development and culture committee, said credit for the accolade should go to Visit Brighton and the beach’s seafront team.
He added: “For the city’s beaches to be placed alongside those of Rio, Barcelona and Sydney shows the unique positioning and branding we have achieved globally as a tourist destination.”
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