Three different locals have told me that Bristol has been voted the kindest city in the UK. It has taken the title in 2019 but it’s not for the first time, it has also been named the happiest, and I can see why. Community is big here. You can see it in the local shops filled with unique brands, the independent cafes that really care about their menus and their produce, the packed calendar of diverse festivals and the thriving arts scene. This ever-changing cityscape has plenty of exciting new sights in addition to the tourist classics – I discover both in my Bristol city guide.
City break in Bristol | the mild, mild west
STAY | old banks to modern B&Bs
From the city harbourside to the pretty Clifton Village, there are some classic and modern hotels to bed down in Bristol.
Classic | waterside luxury on Bristol’s harbour
Oozing all the luxury you’d expect from an old bank building, the Bristol Harbour Hotel is a sound investment. Deep down in the vaults of this hotel hides a spa, with hefty safe doors leading to treatment rooms, and an indoor pool laid underneath the vaulted ceiling. Bedrooms are decorated with rich velvet and leather, chunky decanters of sherry and gin evoke those old school banking days, while Italian marble bathrooms complete the opulent experience.
Classic | this hotel has history
A classic Bristol icon, the Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel has history. This listed building once played host to Churchill, and the restaurant once refused entry to the Rolling Stones for not wearing jackets and ties. The atmosphere has relaxed since then, but it still keeps its grand vibe with a refurbished interior that echoes the past with vintage typewriters and an elegant ballroom. Art is brought from Bristol’s streets inside, with local artists lining the corridors and bedrooms. Rooms have high ceilings, inky green walls, colourful furnishings and industrial features such as exposed pipes and cage lampshades. There’s also a pool over the road if you want some chill time.
Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel
Contemporary | the hotel perched on a gorge
Head to pretty Clifton village to find the grand Victorian Avon Gorge by Hotel du Vin. This old hotel has been given a total makeover, inside is decorated with Farrow & Ball inky walls, fine art hangs on the walls (although look closely and you might see one of the seemingly ancient subjects holding an iPod or reading a magazine) and rooms are given splashes of colour whether its with a burnt orange chair or a bright blue headboard. Gorge View rooms boast sweeping vistas across the gorge, but you can also take in that landscape from the glass-walled restaurant and terrace. Back in the day, this hotel was a favourite with Hollywoodite Cary Grant, so you couldn’t be in better company.
Avon Gorge by Hotel du Vin
Contemporary | your own Bristol bolthole
If you’d rather get a grand pad to call your own for your Bristol stay, the Berkeley Suites is the place to pick. Each apartment is set over a single floor, so there’s plenty of privacy, and they’re decorated with luxury, think mid-century furniture, eye-catching art on the walls, and lots of space with a living area, kitchenette, bedroom and bathroom. There’s even a digital projector in each room should you fancy a night in with a film. Just save me some popcorn…
EAT | locally sourced food reigns king in Bristol
From the classic to the contemporary, Bristol is filled with some of the finest independent restaurants in the country.
DRINK | hidden bars to science infused cocktails
Bristol’s locals know how to pull the perfect pint, while modern bars have the edge on cutting edge cocktails.
DO | long walks and festivals galore
There’s always a festival happening somewhere in Bristol.