When you think of the Downs Hotel the first word that comes to mind is “tired”.

And by that I mean the state of the place, not the fact you feel weary and it would make a nice place to sleep.

Everything about this family run place is just on the tatty side of the scale – the furniture, the paint job, the crisps, the rubbish in the garden and the staff’s teeth.

It’s a big old lump of a place and is obviously firmly cemented as a pre-match watering hole for a stack of Albion fans.

Given the large space available and the fact nothing in here could really be damaged it’s ideally suited to being a pre-footie venue. I’d visit on this basis.

Alongside the huge Brighton and Hove Supporters Pub sign there is a poster advertising a park and ride service to all home games at £4 return for adults and £2 for kids – a real selling point during the season.

One barmaid was busy serving the other customer but it took her some time, and some persuading, to get one of her companions to come and take my order. After some minor griping, the fellow with a middle tooth missing agreed to step in and do the business.

I decided to play it safe and went for a pint of Kronenbourg at £4.40 and a grab bag of plain crisps for £1. The pint was fine and well served but the crisps were decidedly ropey. The bag said they were still in date by two weeks but they were as stale as a Graham Norton joke.

The pub has all the staples you’d expect: darts, pool table, two fruit machines dominated by Noel “bloody” Edmonds (why does every old fruit machine have to have his face on it?), quiz machine. You get the picture.

I have to say that from the front window there really is the most incredible view of the coast.

On one fruit machine an old fellow with tattoos was busy losing cash, or so he said: “Don’t be silly, course I’m not winning.” The artwork on his left arm read: “Here’s mine” and was pictured with either a pair of apples or a pair of cherries. I didn’t understand so asked him about it but didn’t understand the explanation either.

By now the barmaid was singing along to Katy Perry’s “I kissed a girl” so I decided to check out the beer garden.

It’s not much to look at, just a scattering of benches, but it must make a reasonable place to smoke as there’s a plastic lean-to to keep off the rain.

Unfortunately it was well littered in one corner where locals have obviously slung remains of the previous night’s takeaways. I assume the discarded baby’s nappy was unwanted too.

Apart from this, the garden was nondescript although I did notice one of the TV aerials was set particularly low and there is tree which, in time, will yield a bumper crop of apples.

There’s a CCTV camera on the lean-to so you’re watched most of the time. At this point I noticed a bird on the roof that I haven’t seen for many a long year – I think it’s a jackdaw, but I’ll include a picture and perhaps you can let me know.

I spotted a mobile home out the back and couldn’t resist a closer look. Believe it or not it was done out like a hotel room with a properly made bed and guest towels – I can only assume it gets used as an overspill hotel room, unless it’s staff quarters and they look after them well.

I headed back inside to finish my spying visit and spotted the following: a blue plastic dog bowl (dog-friendly pub); Community Hero Awards certificate from 2013, regional finalist; a huge barrel table in the middle of the pub; proper Pimm’s advertised for £4 (not sure what the improper stuff costs?).

Friday night is cocktail night and the carvery every Sunday costs £8.25. There are a stack of screens which must all show Sky Sports at the relevant points and with all the standing room I reckon this would be the perfect place ahead of an Albion game, other than that I’m not sure I can recommend this one.


Decor: ★☆☆☆☆

As tired as it’s possible to be

Drink: ★★★☆☆

Played safe with a Kronie, which was fine

Price: ★★☆☆☆

Middle of the road at £4.40 a pint but the view’s great

Atmosphere: ★★☆☆☆

Slow when I was in, but match days must be a buzz

Staff: ★★☆☆☆

Helpful when stirred into action

Food: ★☆☆☆☆

The crisps at £1 were poor, perhaps I should have gone for the wake menu