Travel

This buzzy river­side city in south­ern Eng­land is steeped in his­tory

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Stellar - - Contents -

Bris­tol is buzzing.

The home of street artist Banksy has a thriv­ing cul­tural scene, rich pick­ings for food­ies, fab­u­lous cock­tail bars – and a spate of big do­ings in the months ahead. Plan­ning a visit to Lon­don? Put aside some time to ex­plore this de­light­ful and quirky des­ti­na­tion around two hours away.

MINTED

The new grand Bris­tol Har­bour Ho­tel & Spa, housed in a for­mer Lloyds Bank head­quar­ters, mixes over­sized Alice In Won­der­land- style beds and eye-pop­ping aqua­ma­rine booths with an­tique par­quetry floor­ing, high-vaulted ceil­ings and sculp­tures to cre­ate a mood that that’s s as cool as it is lux­u­ri­ous.

MID

If the weather isn’t co­op­er­at­ing, there are plenty of good in­door op­tions in town. If you’re hun­gry head in for a long lazy lunch at Giuseppe’s, the city’s old­est Ital­ian eatery. Then hop over to gen­teel and el­e­gant Clifton Vil­lage – just a five-minute drive from the city cen­tre – for a bou­tique shop crawl.

MOD­EST

For less than the price of a cof­fee, take one of the mini Bris­tol Ferry Boats that busily hum through the har­bour’s still wa­ters. They’ll whisk you from down­town to the SS Great Bri­tain for around $3. Some, like Matilda, are en­dear­ingly named after the own­ers’ daugh­ters.

The metic­u­lously re­stored SS GREAT BRI­TAIN steamship (en­try around $30) is an engi­neer­ing feat by Bris­tol’s Isam­bard King­dom Brunel and of­fers a re-cre­ation of on­board life dur­ing the 60-day jour­neys to Aus­tralia. For $18, you can also climb the 25-me­tre rig­ging.

For the best street eats, browse be­tween in­ter­na­tional food stands at ST NI­CHOLAS MAR­KETS (Tues­days and Fri­days on Wine St); most dishes cost less than $15.

This green city is a favourite with cy­clists, and you can ex­plore it on a bi­cy­cle built for two, thanks to BRIS­TOL TAN­DEM HIRE, $70.

PACO TAPAS is (al­most lit­er­ally) the hottest place in town. The Miche­lin-starred Span­ish eatery is cen­tred on a spit­ting grill where se­lec­tions like Gali­cian beef and cara­binero prawns from the Ca­nary Is­lands are pre­pared. Hot tip: the open-kitchen bench seats of­fer the best view.

When the sun’s out, make a bee­line to the re­de­vel­oped har­bour­side area, bustling with restau­rants. Check out CARGO at Wap­ping Wharf – the con­verted ship­ping con­tain­ers of­fer a smor­gas­bord of world cui­sine.

Even if you choose to stay else­where, don’t miss BRIS­TOL HARSPA, a deca­dent space in the ho­tel’s for­mer bank vault that is home to a luxe pool and in­dul­gent treat­ments.

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