The Bright Side

Hotel du Vin is renowned for its expertise in drink making and Daniel White caught up with bar manager Ben Manchester to discuss how they stay above the rest

It was a beautiful sunny Thursday afternoon as I made my way through the Lanes with Brighton’s Hotel du Vin in my sights.

Just like the weather that day, everything at Hotel du Vin is looking bright right now.

Fresh off a record-breaking May for the bar along with the launch of their new terrace and courtyard in April, staff at the luxurious hotel are finding it hard not to smile.

Such optimism was unmistakeable on the face of their bar manager, Ben Manchester, as I sat down to talk with him. Happy with the recent upturn in business, Ben explains that the adaptability of the hotel and bar is part of what makes them so appealing.

“I think this place is different to everywhere else in Brighton, I don’t think there’s a place quite like this, judging by the amount of people that are up in the terrace in the sunshine thinking it’s their secret spot,” he begins.

“This place gets all kinds from the businessman that’s travelled half way across the world to have a conference to a couple on a date to a group of people who have come out for drinks on a Saturday night. We cover all bases and we like to think that each of those subsets can come here and leave knowing they’ve had a good time and been in a special place.”

Ben, who has been working at the south coast branch of the hotel for nearly five years, has worked his way up through bar roles across the globe, gaining invaluable experience. It was during his time in Australia that Ben realised that his career lay in bar management and, following his return, there was only one place he was going to settle down.

“I decided when I got back that this was the job I wanted to do, so I managed to get a job at Hotel du Vin as a bartender within a week of being back from Australia and I’ve just worked my way up the ladder to the position I’m in now. If you’re from Brighton, Brighton is one of those places you always miss whenever you go away,” he says.

Ben’s duties at the mock-Tudor bar include running the bar and terrace, welcoming guests as well as keeping the spirits and beers as up-to-date and interesting as possible, an area in which he is highly knowledgeable.

“My area of expertise is spirits and beers, with the cigars on the side as a little luxury, which is nice because there’s not too many places in Brighton which sell cigars, especially where you can buy decent cocktails as well. So I plan the cocktail lists and try to keep the bar current and filled with new and innovative products.”

Aside from the delicious food, great terrace area and ideal location at Hotel du Vin, it is the extremely knowledgeable staff that Ben feels sets them apart from their counterparts.

“We bring a very high standard of drinks making, expertise and knowledge in the sphere of drinks and we’ve got a really strong team here,” he clarifies.

“I think the good thing about this place is that we pride ourselves on having staff that know what they’re talking about and they can guide you into the unknown if you’re willing for us to take you there. It’s nice to work in a place where people enjoy what they’re doing and everyone seems to enjoy working here.”

And with that we were done. I was off to another meeting and he was heading back to the bar. I shook hands with Ben and set off back through the Lanes that appeared even brighter now.

Ben Manchester runs a Cocktail Masterclass at Hotel du Vin Brighton on the first Thursday of every month for £25 per person, so for more information or to book please call 0844 736 4251 or email