First up, the all-important toilets.

And the winner, by some distance, is… The Grand hotel in Brighton.

During my visit in May I was left in awe by the facilities at one of the country’s top hotels: “These are nothing like toilets elsewhere.

“It’s like stepping back in time and the retro feel is perfectly done.

“They are maintained exactly as they were created – oh, and they smell great too”

The award for the grottiest toilets in town goes to… The Marine Tavern in Kemp Town.

I popped into the Tavern in March and discovered: “A marble-lined gents, though it was really plastic, and an avocado-coloured urinal – you don’t see many of these any more, not outside skips anyway.”

The next award is for pub garden.

And, perhaps controversially, the top prize goes to Victoria’s Bar on the Palace Pier.

You might argue it’s not strictly a garden but there are no better views around than this one.

“Sitting listening to the waves, the idle chatter of tourists and the odd seagull, I couldn’t help thinking there can’t be a better place to be”

At the other end of the scale was the Downs Hotel in Woodingdean July. “Not much to look at, just a scattering of benches with a plastic lean-to keep off the rain.

“Unfortunately littered in one corner – locals had slung the remains of the previous night’s takeaways and an old baby’s nappy.”

When it comes to the best, and worst, pints it was a tough choice.

I’ve certainly tasted a few great beers this year, as well as a number of very disappointing brews.

In the end I decided my top award should go the pint of Harvey’s Sussex Best served to me at The Mitre in Brighton.

I said: “The best pint of Harvey’s I’ve ever had – glorious and nutty, a real thing of beauty”

The worst pint by far was the one served to me by the Gok Wan lookalike in the King’s Arms in George Street, Brighton.

“Seeing my screwed up face, a couple of locals with beards and caps took pity on me.

“They told the barman that following a pipe clean he needed to pull a pint or two first.”

Ironically I’d ordered Harvey’s Sussex Best.

The penultimate award goes to the truly vital element that can make or break any pub – the barman or barmaid.

Top of the charts must be Mary, who I was lucky enough to meet at The Neptune at Hove.

Nicknamed Claudia Winkleman by her regulars, Mary is the epitome of everything a barmaid should be.

Not only was she pleasant, cheerful and efficient, she was the life and soul of the pub.

Not only that, but she was prepared to do whatever she could for her locals.

When it comes to the anti-award for bar staff I have to give a joint award.

This dishonour goes to all the bored staff in The Nevill in Hove during my visit.

First the barmaid announced she was tired and bored before ignoring me to speak to everyone else.

Then the other staff, who only had enough energy to loll across the bar, were joined by another zombie-like staff member complaining his wages weren’t ready the moment he walked in.

Finally, the moment you’ve all been waiting for – The best, and worst, pubs of the year.

This top prize goes to The Basketmakers Arms, a true gem of a pub: “The whole place is unspoilt and superbly well preserved.

“There is oodles of charm without anything being twee – it’s exactly what a pub should be.

When it comes to the worst, could it really be anything else?

A second visit proved that anything can be turned around and I seriously wish it all the best, but The County Oak, Brighton, in April was a shoo-in for worst pub of the year.

I raise a glass to all the winners and seriously hope the losers can up their game.

Finally, no award, but I would also raise a toast to the Jolly Brewer, Ditchling Road, which sadly left us this year.

Cheers and very happy New Year to one and all.


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