This buzzy riverside city in southern England is steeped in history
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.
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.
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.
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.