A student’s guide to cafes in North Laine

Liz Wheeler explores the best places to study and catch-up with friends that Brighton's delightful North Laine has to offer.

A student’s guide to cafes in North Laine
Source: The Brighton Seagull

If you are new to Brighton, North Laine is one of the best places in town. It has hundreds of vibe-y small businesses, including cafes, pubs, small shops and market stalls, writes Liz Wheeler. In the summer, the North Laine is beautiful but packed to the brim, while in the autumn and winter the cosy buzz offers a comforting safe-haven to all those affected by the short days and dismal wet weather. Here’s my guide to the best cafes in the North Laine for students moving to Brighton this September!

Top three best places to study

Meanwhile Cafe, Black Mocha, The Botanist

Meanwhile Cafe
If you are looking for a modern cafe with both free WiFi and plug sockets, this is the place for you. Located near Jubilee Square Library, Meanwhile Cafe is a warm, spacious and comfy cafe which is easily accessible. The coffee is generous and not too expensive (for Brighton) and the tempting cakes are scrumptious—I especially recommend the banana bread and the gluten free polenta cake. Meanwhile Cafe also has both still and sparkling water on tap, so it’s easy for us students to stay hydrated throughout the day. This is one of my go-to cafes, the staff are lovely and you never feel as if you are outstaying your welcome—even if you are studying there all day. It's also open until 11pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, making it perfect for late-night study sessions.

Black Mocha
Another of my favourite cafes during exam season is Black Mocha. Located opposite Fatto a Mano in Gloucester Road, Black Mocha has the most welcoming staff and super cosy feel. With free WiFi and sensational blends of coffee and hot chocolate, it’s hard not to fill up the Black Mocha loyalty card in more than two visits! Upstairs (my favourite section of the cafe) they have a gorgeous array of plants and—if you are lucky enough to get the seat by the window—you have a lovely view of the rest of the North Laine for some excellent people-watching procrastination.

The Garden Cafe
For plant lovers this cafe is a must visit! Located near Infinity Foods on North Road, this cafe feels just like a garden no matter if you sit in the porch area or in the main section at the back. The brunch options and salads are delicious and always presented in the most beautiful ways. Although this place is not the cheapest, it is definitely worth a visit during your time in Brighton—even if it is just for your Instagram feed.

Top three best places for a cosy, wholesome winter catch-up:

The Garden Cafe, Kenny's Rock and Soul Cafe, Red Fish Art Cafe

The Botanist
Located next to The Pond pub in Gloucester Road, The Botanist is a small cafe with free WiFi, access to plug sockets and loads of plants! One of my favourite things about this cafe is its cake selection, provided by Cielo’s Cakery—their brownies and rocky roads are out of this world. Furthermore, its tucked-away location makes it relatively quiet; perfect for essay writing and exam revision. I really recommend this cafe if you wish to support a small local business with a super homely feel during the winter period.

Kenny’s Rock and Soul Cafe
Music lovers should definitely visit Kenny’s Rock and Soul Cafe on Kensington Gardens which offers a retro-feel experience—ideal for a hangover. This cafe is warm and friendly, with a range of nostalgic photos and decor at each table. Even for warm winter days, the balcony offers a stunning view of market stalls and alternative shops which the North Laine offers, perfect for a mid-shopping trip vegan milkshake.

Red Fish Art Cafe
Red Fish is a lovely cosy and artsy cafe on Trafalgar Street, near St. Peter’s Church. This is a great option for those looking for a cheap lunch or mid-day snack. It’s Middle-Eastern cuisine is simply scrumptious—one of my personal favourites is the borek. This cafe’s offerings are all served on cute home-made pottery and gives customers the chance to embrace their inner artist.

Liz Wheeler is a masters student at the University of Sussex.