From Clifton Suspension Bridge to the Arnolfini art gallery, Bristol is a mix of urban creatives and cider-loving country folk. Culture trip have handpicked the best places to stay at while exploring the local pubs, theatre productions and boutique shops.
Find yourself in the heart of the Old City when staying at the Bristol Harbour Hotel, just a stone’s throw from Bristol’s oldest market and the Old Vic theatre. The Grade II listed building is home to 42 stylish guest rooms, a spa and gym, as well as The Jetty Restaurant, specialising in local produce and the speakeasy-inspired Gold Bar for pre-theatre cocktails. The Bristol Harbour Hotel lets you go one step further in your Bristolian deep-dive, offering their own walking and cycling tours and Culture Trip’s personal favourite, Bristol distilled gin tastings.
If your vibe is more Bansky than Brunel, then there is simply no better place to stay in Bristol than Paintworks Apartments. These industrial-style lofts offer local living in the city’s Creative Quarter on the banks of the River Avon. Bursting with design studios, digital agencies and trendy film companies, the Printworks is a haven for all those looking to find the cultural hub of the city. Wander down to the Martin Parr Foundation or grab a bite at Boca Bar with its famous pizzas and Sunday roasts. Take your coffee to go at Convoy Espresso – housed in Airstream trailers – and don’t miss the latest goings-on at the dedicated event space.
Beech House is for those travellers wishing to experience the sophisticated air of this West Country city. Exuding with elegance, these serviced apartments are located in a Victorian villa in upmarket Clifton and maintain the atmospheric features of the original house. Antique furniture adorns every corner – you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve joined the well-to-do Bristol set after a few days in your very own apartment. The rolling Downs are a short walk, as is Clifton Suspension Bridge, Brunel’s magnum opus.
The awe-inspiring Avon Gorge is a magnificent scene, commanding views across the city and home to unique flora and fauna. This natural border between Bristol and the world beyond has held a special place in the imagination of Bristolians. Local legend says the gorge was created by two giant brothers, vying for the love of the beautiful Avona. In the heart of Clifton, this boutique hotel has taken its name from this local landmark and even named it’s restaurant after the brothers in the legend: Goram and Vincent. The Avon Gorge by Hotel du Vin has spectacular views, best admired from their White Lion bar’s terrace – the largest in the Southwest. On a sunny day, it is teeming with locals.
Live like a local, but not just any old local, in the chic rooms of Number 38 Clifton. This Georgian merchant’s house has been transformed into a boutique home from home for the discerning traveller. Linger in the library, take a break on the terrace, lie back in the lounge and sip from wines selected by Averys of Bristol, a city stalwart since 1793. Number 38 is your very own slice of Bristol history.
In a city so intrinsically linked to the sea, is there a more apt place to stay than a houseboat? Moored at Wapping Wharf, The Kyle Blue isn’t just a unique setting to lay your head, but a way of connecting Bristol’s maritime history to its vibrant creative future. Just a short stroll away is the up-and-coming Cargo Quarter, full of independent eateries, boutiques and everything from a yoga studio to an art gallery. Rub shoulders with Bristol’s creative class by day, and by night be rocked to sleep by the River Avon.
If your goal is full immersion in Bristol society, then look no further than the Berkeley Square Hotel. Besides its setting on the famous Park Street, the real draw is that each guest automatically becomes a member of Square Private Members Club for the length of their stay. Get to know the locals through their extensive events calendar, filled with talks by prominent guest speakers and exclusive soirées. If you need to do some work while in town, you’ll also have use of the Square Works co-working space, where you can get the lowdown on the latest trends in Bristol.
Fashions change and trends come and go. Often it’s only the truly special hotels that last the test of time. The Bristol Marriott Hotel has been at the heart of city life since it first opened its doors over 150 years ago. Recently restored to its former glory, the hotel is as much a Bristol institution as its famous neighbours. In the heart of the city, the Marriott Royal is adjacent to Bristol Cathedral, College Green and the Bristol Hippodrome – all icons of this historic city.
In the epicentre of independent-led Bristol is The Wellington pub, a bastion of real ale, craft beer and hearty Sunday lunches. Sleep it all off than one of its 10 rooms, ideally located so you can enjoy your evenings getting to know the locals without an arduous trip home. During the day, wander down Gloucester Road, the beating heart of Bristol’s alternative quarter, with colourful street art, independent shops and – if you can handle more cider – even more eccentric pubs.
There’s something for everyone at The Clifton Hotel, with a range of guest rooms suitable for all budgets. However, it’s in the common areas where this hotel really comes alive. Caffe Clifton is the place to be for coffees, cakes and smoothies, but for the true Bristolian buzz, head to Racks Bar and Kitchen. Located in the Georgian building’s former wine cellar, this is where you’ll discover what the locals drink. In the summer months, soak up that West Country sun on its suntrap outdoor terrace.
If your Bristol budget doesn’t stretch to Georgian town houses or luxury riverside apartments, you can still receive a warm West Country welcome at The Washington Guesthouse. Great value for money, this unassuming hotel’s homely atmosphere makes you feel like you’re staying with (fancy) friends. Hire a bike to make the most of the central location or discover the many parks surrounding the property – Bristol was named the UK’s greenest city in 2020.
The sleek and sophisticated finishes found in The Bristol would delight any traveller. This hotel certainly hasn’t scrimped on luxury in its well-appointed guest rooms and suites. However, the true local delights are to be savoured at The River Grille and Lounge, the hotel’s in-house bar and restaurant, teeming with elegant locals on the hunt for a vibrant ambiance and exquisite food. Bristol Gin is served in the Lounge bar, which is fully stocked with regional ales. The restaurant’s live piano and jazz evenings make sure it’s brimming over with fashionable Bristolians.