Lewes is a historic and hilly market town with a taste for independent businesses and an alternative air. Centered around a thousand-year-old castle, its winding hillside streets lay home to traditional pubs, Georgian houses, and small artisan shops.
Given its size and its quaint appearance, it may seem surprising that this Sussex town has a rather bohemian edge. Its proximity to trendy Brighton and accessibility to London may go some way in accounting for its cosmopolitan and affluent residents.
Your options for hostels in Lewes are limited, but you will be situated in a village a few miles out of town but very near to Southease Station, should you be arriving by public transport.
The town is notorious for hosting the UK’s largest Bonfire Night celebrations, which go way beyond the usual Fifth of November firework displays. A sort of macabre Mardi Gras, it merges the British custom of Guy Fawkes Night -- marking the unsuccessful attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament -- with a commemoration of Protestant martyrs who were burnt at the stake. Lewes takes its historic celebrations very seriously and has several "Bonfire Societies," which work year round in competition of the best displays.
Typically, the various groups dress in their trademark stripes or masked costumes as they parade burning crosses and gigantic papier mache effigies (often satirical representations of politicians or hate figures -- previous targets have included the Pope and Osama bin Laden). The Societies also haul flaming wagons around the streets and launch firecrackers into the crowd before heading to various locations around town for each society’s display. Be warned though, it gets insanely crowded and it’s definitely not for children or the safety-conscious. If you want to stay in a Lewes hostel during this festival, then be sure to book ahead.
Lewes is in a great location for exploring the countryside of the South Downs National Park as well as the traditional seaside towns along the south coast. Lewes train station links London, Brighton, and Eastbourne. Local buses service the area and also go to Brighton.
Hi, I'm Laura T,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Lewes hostels. Welcome.