There’s always going to be a risk when you take a dingy old pub that regulars really love, even if they only love to hate it, and chase the cash by turning it into a trendy bar.

I’ve never subscribed to the “Hove’s better than Brighton” view but if you’re going to create top end trendy, then Hove “actually” has to be the place to do it.

And believe me, they don’t come much trendier than the Old Albion in Church Road.

It’s a grand, imposing place from the outside and spacious inside but within seconds you’re aware the hipsters have taken over.

Now, I’m used to fairy lights adorning most places but here they have dragged in a full-sized lamp post and a traffic light, with red, amber and green lights permanently on – I didn’t know whether I was coming or going.

One bonus was there was no one cluttering up the bar on stools and the pocket rocket blonde barmaid was immediately friendly and helpful.

I tried a couple of ales and while Material World from the Two Tribes Brew Co, 5.2 per cent, was drinkable and pretty smooth I rejected this stronger, pricier brew in favour of a Laines Source pale ale at 4.1 per cent. Material World cost £5.60, Source is £4.95.

The place is all stripped wooden boards and decorative floor tiles as you’d expect.

Of course, there’s also Formica on the tables, uncomfortable school chairs and flowers in gin bottles but there are also some positive touches – a nice exposed area under the bar is lit up to show off the glasses and a there’s a chalkboard asking you to vote for the guest beer you’d most like to see make a comeback.

When I was in, Werrrd from Electric Bear was leading the field.

I sat down and immediately had a candle placed on my table, now I realise it’s trendy, but it was only 4.45pm – the barmaid said she felt it was too dingy without it.

I had a spot of business nearby so couldn’t dally long.

On the stroke of 5pm barmaid #2 made her entrance on a very old fashioned and trendy pushbike.

I headed off but, business sorted I found myself back in the vicinity a few hours later and felt it only fair, in a place touting itself as a gin palace, to try some mother’s ruin.

A couple more folk had wandered in and barmaid #1 was off shift so I waited for #2 to reappear from the depths of the pub.

She then began serving me but stopped to call her dog.

I waited while Bam wandered into view and after cooing over him she returned to making my Monkey 47 with Mediterranean tonic.

To be fair, Bam did seem nice and certainly had better manners than his owner/carer but I’d have appreciated being moved up the pecking order.

When the gin did arrive, it included a sprig of rosemary, some juniper berries and a dried slice of orange, but before I got chance to thank my server she had Bam under one arm and was taking him upstairs for a rest.

This time I headed outside to the area carpeted by false grass with, if I’m not much mistaken, Trachelospermum Jasminoides growing up one wall.

I chose a table a little away from other drinkers so as not to intrude but it was quickly apparent I would not be able to escape the most pretentious women I have ever encountered.

She was sitting with her friend Lindsey, sporting an orange cardy over a gold and blue dress, with a yellow knapsack, and I have never heard so many “Mmmmm yahhhhs” in my life.

She had the loudest, most drawling and annoying accent I have heard outside America.

Her voice was obviously further affected by the roll ups she smokes but it didn’t stop her projecting her voice to anyone she felt ought to be interested in her, which was clearly everyone.

When she said “my biggest fear is to wake up in the morning and realise I wanted a child all along”, I decided to move back inside.

In fairness Lindsey wasn’t as bad, though why she allowed her friend to finish all her sentences I don’t know.

It was a pity as the outside area, labelled the gin yard, is very pleasant with its bunting and lights.

Back indoors I marvelled at the selection of gins, although both the first two I requested from the menu, Conkers and Fifty Pounds were out of stock.

It is still a very extensive list.

There can be no doubt the Old Albion has been greatly enhanced in recent years and I’m sure it is a much more salubrious place to visit now than it once was.

* A quick update, I've been asked to point out that whilst the lovely 'Bam' is much adored by staff and punters, he is very much attached to Bec, who runs the pub. Cheers PubSpy. 

Whether such changes have improved it I’ll leave you to decide.

Old Albion

110 Church Road, Hove BN3 2EB

Decor: Three stars

Almost too trendy and hipster like, even for Hove.

Drink: Four stars

Both the beer and the gin were good quality and well served.

Price: Two stars

The pale ales were generally just over a fiver, a G&T just over £6.

Atmosphere: Two stars

A lot was ripped out in the makeover, including, I fear, the soul of the place.

Staff: Four stars

Barmaid #1 – very pleasant, * Barmaid #2 – a lot to learn about customer service.

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