Technically the Colonnade is the theatre bar for the Georgian Brighton Theatre Royal next door. But it is a pub in its own right and functions even when the theatre is shut.
Externally it still has the traditional 1920s green tiled outside décor and stands out well against the modern development of New Road.
Internally it is one narrow room with the Edwardian bar down the left hand side, the decorative features of which match the exterior façade. These include arched framed mirrors and a small glass panel at the centre painted with Britannia figure trade mark and then brass rails that line both the top and bottom of the carved counter. Then on the right hand wall opposite the bar there is a row of lamp-illuminated timber framed mirrors, having the overall effect of making the room appear larger than it actually is. The décor is very theatrical as you would expect with a red plaster ceiling with cornices and an etched glass insert by the entrance door, red velvet seating and curtains and several thespian posters and photographs of actors and actresses past and present who have appeared at the theatre, and then looking out from the central projecting window bay into the street outside is ‘Willie’ an antique automated mannequin dressed for the theatre in top hat and tails, carrying a cane.
Fortunately I have timed my visits here when there hasn’t been a performance going next door, and it was a quiet, voluptuously comfortable place to sit and have a beer. And especially, unlike other theatre bars which are on the second or third floors of theatres and have only boring keg beer options, the Colonnade provides more than standard drink options and there are four ale and cider pumps on the bar usually dispensing a couple of local brewery brews alongside a national ale and Westerns Old Rosie cloudy Scrumpy. The bar also does an extensive range of specialist Gins which means the other half can have a better than normal G&T whilst I enjoy a pint.
This is a fine example of a traditional theatre bar external to the theatre, the like of which has long disappeared from London. So if you get the chance, pop in to look at the décor and have a drink if you manage to catch it when it’s not full of theatre goers..
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