The town of St Leonards today occupies, firstly, the fairly steeply climbing land immediately adjacent to the west of Hastings, leading up towards Silverhill and Hollington; and secondly, to the west where the land is lower lying. The latter part of the town – Bulverhythe – is thought to be the original site of the port of Hastings, since cut off by longshore drift of pebbles. Within the higher land there are some small valleys: that through which the Priory stream flows through Alexandra Park being the main one.
Many people have close connections with St Leonards. Queen Adelaide (1792–1849), consort of William IV, lived in St Leonards as a widow. Elizabeth Eiloart (1827–1898), novelist, retired to St Leonards, and King Solomon's Mines author Henry Rider Haggard came to live at North Lodge, Maze Hill, the house built across the road at the entrance to old St Leonards; this remained his home until 1923. Robert Tressell, author of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, lived at 241 London Road from 1907. Summerfields School produced the alumnus Rainier III, Prince of Monaco. George Bristow was the taxidermist at the centre of the Hastings Rarities ornithological fraud; his business address was 15 Silchester Road. Fred Judge FRPS founded the local picture postcard manufacturer Judges Postcards. Sheila Kaye-Smith was a prolific author whose novels are set in the Sussex countryside around Hastings and Rye; she was born in St Leonards, the daughter of a local doctor and lived in Dane Road until her marriage in 1924. George Monger was awarded a VC during the Siege of Lucknow in 1857, and after leaving the army, he lived in Tower Road, St Leonards where he died in 1887. Historian Prof Roy Porter (1946–2002) retired to St Leonards. Dr Thomas Duncan Greenlees FRSE retired here in 1922 and died here in 1929.
On the sea front stands an ocean liner shaped art-deco building known as Marine Court, which upon completion in 1937 was the tallest block of flats in the United Kingdom, comprising some 153 flats and 3 restaurants. Despite this claim to fame, entries to a competition to name the building show that it was not universally popular. Now a listed building, it has recently been bought by the residents after many years of neglect and is in the process of being fully restored.