The Prince Regent (later King George IV) was a bit of a man about town and used to enjoy his breaks in Brighton before minor inconveniences like reigning got in the way, and it was to his specifications that the Royal Pavilion was built. The original building was started in 1787, and the building was expanded on up until 1823. It is based in central Brighton and is now owned by the local authority. Parking in the city centre is a nightmare so I suggest walking if you can or using local public transport - the station is 10-15mins walk away.
Admission was £9.80 (concessions are available, as are family and group tickets. Discounted prices are also available to local residents) which may seem a bit steep but I think it is worth it. We arrived one sunny Sunday in the afternoon and handed over our dosh to the distracted receptionist who seemed unimpressed with her ticket machine. So distracted in fact, that she forgot to tell us about the included audio tour. It wasn't until we got into the first room and saw the numbered indicators that we realised there was one available, and back tracked to reception. They are available in several languages and there was a children's version too. I found the audio tour very informative, but if you prefer to not use it, they do have a board in each room describing its function. The audio tour describes the Prince as a person, as well as that period in history, and not just the building, so you will hear lots of information. However, parts can be skipped if not to your taste. There is probably a guide book too, but I expect the receptionist forgot to tell us again.
The land originally belonged to a farmhouse which was bought by the Prince and done up to become the more modest Marine Pavilion. John Nash took it over in 1815, after George became Regent and turned the building into what we see today. The nearby Brighton Museum and Brighton Dome Theatre were originally his stables. This fellow didn't do things by halves. I am not going to describe every room we visited, but I am going to mention a few personal highlights. Much of the style of the Pavilion is chinoiserie, which is Oriental influenced and was a very fashionable at the time and a favourite with the Prince.
As both Prince and King, George loved entertaining and the ladies. The largest room and one of the most impressive is the Banqueting room. It is a long and tall room dominated by a magnificent chandelier. The chandelier is 30 foot long and reported to weigh a ton. The chandelier is set in the recess of one of the domes which has palm leaves painted on it. There are a number of palm leaves made from copper, if I recall correctly, attached to the painted dome to give it a three dimensional effect. From here a silver dragon 'holds' the chandelier in his claws. Within the chandelier are smaller dragons 'breathing fire' into lotus flower shades as well as countless shimmery crystals. Subtle it isn't.
Another opulent and very over the top room is the Music Room decorated in rich reds and blues with lots of gold.