“THAT place was a dump back in the 1980s”.

It’s safe to say I was given fair warning by colleagues about The Royal Pavilion Tavern in Castle Square before my visit.

And judging by the decor at least, not much has changed in the Pav Tav since then.

After stepping inside with Mrs PubSpy, I was told that the kitchens had closed down a few weeks ago due to a lack of customers.

We were told a neighbouring establishment would serve food, but it left us wondering what the food must have been like when the kitchen was open. It meant an unexpected detour up North Street to Burger King before returning and going past the two bouncers stationed outside.

Back inside, we wandered down the narrow bar area and took our seats in the quieter areas to the left and right.

There were five ornate pumps for serving a variety of ales, but none of them were on, perhaps there were no customers for those either.

So the choice on draught was lager, lager, lager, as the song Born Slippy by Underworld went on the film Trainspotting.

There was a faint glimmer of hope after opting for a Carling. Mrs PubSpy opted for a rose, and we were quietly surprised by the £4 total bill.

It’s the sort of price you’d expect in a student union bar, which also explained the modern and largely nondescript indie music playing inside.

No matter how awful something is, it can easily be drowned out by cheap booze, but you’d need a lot of it to forget your surroundings here.

Not that this seemed to matter to those inside. There were a few young student-types congregating around the two pool tables.

Meanwhile a few older gentlemen supped their pints in front of one of the many giant screens showing Sky Sports News.

It can get busy when a live match is on, and this is possibly the pub’s greatest strength.

There were muscular men who you definitely wouldn’t want to start an argument with, and the same applied to some of the women, too.

To be fair, they seemed a lot happier to be there than we were. I couldn’t make out most of their conversations, save for the odd bit of Anglo-Saxon.

One group of young women were happily taking selfies. They even managed an a-capella sing song in the ladies room.

I couldn’t say there were discernible words or a recognisable tune, so it was one small mercy that there was no karaoke machine nearby.

The downside of lager is the instant need to visit the gents, where inside, I was greeted by two men discussing whether they had just had a “Johnny Cash” or an “eyelash”.

Other alternatives for cockney rhyming slang weren’t offered. The look on the bar worker’s face told its own story as he busily mopped up the recently deposited mess under the urinals. But the bar staff were friendly and helpful. They seem like students and were probably the pub’s saving grace, apart from the prices. I needed something stronger, so opted for a Hop House lager, which at least tasted better, and set me back £4.25.

Unsurprisingly Mrs PubSpy was content to stay on the vino, at £2.

The pub is mostly forgettable, there are wood panelled walls and chandeliers for some lighting, and there is one window at the back, depicting the Irish golden harp in stained glass.

There aren’t many artefacts inside, apart from a black and white photograph of Brighton seafront when it was a race track, and the bar has a bell for last orders.

The ceilings boast original cornicing which looks very skilled and ornate. It looks like it still bears the stains of tobacco from the days before the smoking ban.

A former entrance into Steine Lane behind the pub is closed as an emergency exit only. It was just the invitation we needed.