I DON’T know how I washed up in a concrete cell on the seafront listening to the couple beside me break up, but I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

That means I won’t be going back to the Tempest Inn. Not because it’s unremittingly dreadful. But I think I’ve caught the place off guard.

High winds blew me in off the seafront one blustery Brighton night. I was looking for shelter. I saw lights, the word “inn”, and – I regret to say – I stepped over the threshold of this desolate watering hole in an arch below the King’s Road.

Now, I’m nursing a beer I don’t enjoy and listening to a troglodyte in a tight T-shirt getting dumped in the stone booth next door.

That’s the headline, by the way. The Tempest Inn is decorated like a cave. It looks like a budget sci-fi film set, or a scene from The Mighty Boosh.

A helpful William Shakespeare theatre poster at “Ariel’s Bar” reminds punters that the place has been designed to resemble Prospero’s cell in The Tempest.

Or it would do, if anyone was there to read it.

Because for all I can see, the place is frequented exclusively by sullen 30-something couples with relationships on the rocks. A smattering of Christmas tinsel does little to make the place feel more jolly.

But to his credit, the bartender does a sterling job.

“Still raining?” he chuckles as I enter, my battered trenchcoat sodden with sea spray.

He’s welcoming, generous, and would be better suited to a fire-lit country pub instead of this cavernous subterranean dance floor.

It’s utterly dead in here. Other than the couple breaking up in the grotto next door, there’s another quiet pair holed up in a cranny somewhere, and an Uber driver perched on a stool by the door.

I’ve got no idea what he’s delivering. The kitchen closes at 8pm, so there’s no food. But a glance at the menu reveals that at another time, I could be tucking in to Kentucky fried cauliflower (£10), clam fritters (£6), or vegan chips with katsu curry sauce (£5).

Back at the Ariel bar, lines of untouched steel taps glisten with beads of condensation.

I order an IPA and a spume of American-style craft beer fills an indestructible nightclub tumbler.

I take this bullet-proof glass and place it firmly on the cement plinth of the table.

Then I sit in my miserable booth and wonder what to do other than mull over the price – £3 for a half of ale is not good.

I decide to go for a stroll. My shoes echo as I wander under a CCTV camera down aisles of empty concrete cells and up to the toilets.

They’re immaculate, as they should be. I can’t imagine they’ve been used since Saturday night. There’s a whopping great lobster painted on the wall of the gents. The facilities smell of urinal cake (which incidentally, comes in a waffle-shaped red sheet to deal with the droves of inebriated clubgoers relieving themselves at the weekend).

Clearly I’ve caught The Tempest Inn at the wrong time. I’m told in the summer the place heaves with happy customers.

And I can see the appeal of the place for its location by the sea. This could be an interesting underground level in the descent towards a drunken stupor. At one point, a few lively songs replace the tinny hum on the speakers, and the atmosphere seems to be picking up.

But a pub needs people if it’s going to have character. The cuddly whale-shark behind the bar can do nothing to help.

At 8.30 on a weekday night, this joint has the feel of a sticky nightclub at dawn.

Suddenly, the winds and hammering downpour outside seem like old friends. I step outside and smile.

Perhaps the rain will wash everything away.