Brooks Guesthouse, Bristol: B&B and Beyond

Quirky, retro trailers have been launched from the roof of a city guesthouse. Paul Bloomfield squeezes in for the night

Bristol does not suffer from a paucity of accommodation. Yet, while villagey Clifton is awash with guesthouses and B&Bs, the city centre is largely the preserve of the big chain hotels. Brooks Guesthouse slots happily into that gap, providing a good-value, stylish retreat in the thick of the action, just steps from theatres, shops and restaurants. Four new Rooftop Rockets – aluminium-clad, retro-style caravans parked on astroturf lawns atop the guesthouse – add an urban quirk.

THE BED

Dead ringers for classic Airstreams, the Rockets are actually brand spanking new, made in Worcester rather than Ohio, and furnished to the owner's specs. Interiors eschew overt retro styling, opting for a restrained aesthetic matching the guesthouse bedrooms, with teal radio/iPod dock and purpose-made teal Designers Guild curtains and cushions providing splashes of colour. Five-foot beds are topped with pocket-sprung mattresses and goose-down duvets and pillows, while bathrooms are, unsurprisingly, bijou. In truth, space is at a premium all round; we bedded down in the 18-footer (16ft and 20ft vans are also available), and I hadn't grasped how short 18 feet is – plans for cat-swinging were soon abandoned. Having said that, if "fun" is important, these vans are a treat.

Whether I'd choose a Rocket over a room in winter, I'm not so sure, though the owner assured me they're well insulated. Flatscreen TV/DVDs, Geneva Guild toiletries and decent hospitality trays and rooftop views across spires and St Nicholas Market complete the picture. Downstairs, there's an honesty bar with local ales and ciders, wines and snacks, a spacious courtyard garden, cosy lounge area, and free Wi-Fi.

A bed inside the Rocket A bed inside the Rocket THE BREAKFAST

An open kitchen in a guesthouse is a novel idea – though we were too busy hoovering up home-made granola and muesli, fruit compote, organic juices and West Country yoghurts to keep an eye on the chef rustling up our eggs: scrambled with salmon on toast, plus the creamiest Benedict with local back bacon. Take-out sarnies and bagels are offered for those in a rush – though with service from 7am, most guests should be able to squeeze in a sit-down slap-up repast.

THE HOSTS

Like many of the best guesthouse owners, Dublin-born Carla Brooks had never planned on a career in hospitality. But when the 2008 crash struck, she and husband Andrew took the plunge and ploughed their all into rescuing and revitalising a tired hotel in Bath as the first Brooks guesthouse. Taking on a rundown hostel in a former solicitor's office in Bristol, they've updated the 1950s building with contemporary decor and furniture. There's no blueprint: "I just love combing the vintage shops and markets for retro chairs and tables," confesses Carla, who was inspired to install the Rockets after falling for a rooftop Airstream trailer park in Cape Town.

THE WEEKEND

Step out of the guesthouse and you're immediately engulfed in the enticing Babel that is St Nicholas Market (stnicholasmarketbristol.co.uk): pick up a vintage photo of the city, a succulent venison sausage, vinyl classics or a T-shirt sporting the quintessentially Brizzle plaudit "Gert Lush". It's a pleasant stroll alongside the Floating Harbour to the Arnolfini (0117 9172300; arnolfini.org.uk), hosting unpredictable contemporary exhibitions and performances of visual and musical arts. Across the harbour sits M Shed (0117 3526600; mshed.org), an immersive museum housed in a former dock silo, now providing an entertaining run-through of the city's history. The harbour's crown jewel is Brunel's magnificent iron SS Great Britain (0117 9260680; ssgreatbritain.org), lovingly restored to evoke life aboard a Victorian steamship.

THE PIT-STOP

The Ox (0117 9221001, theoxbristol.com), which was voted best newcomer in the 2014 Bristol Good Food Awards, is a shining light among the ranks of sophisticated steakhouses. Hidden in a subterranean former safe deposit room, the gilt wood panels and grape-bunch light fittings contribute to an ambience that's prohibition-era speakeasy meets 1920s French jazz club. Each cut is sourced and prepared with reverence – the meltingly tender bavette d'alouya (£25), served with triple-cooked chips and a choice of sauces, exemplifies the approach, while a chocolate delice with peanut butter crunch and salted caramel ice cream (£6.50) reduced us to stunned silence.

Even more tucked away – behind anonymous black doors on Colston Avenue – is The Milk Thistle (0117 9294429; milkthistle.com), conjuring up novel twists on classic cocktails in a witty bar decked out like a Gothic-style gentleman's club.

THE ESSENTIALS

Brooks Guesthouse Bristol, St Nicholas Street, Bristol, BS1 1UB (0117 9300066; brooksguesthousebristol.com). Rockets start at £99 for two, including breakfast.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Keith Fraser says we should give Isis sympathises free flights to join Isis (AFP)
news
Life and Style
Google celebrates the 126th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower opening its doors to the public for the first time
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
music
Sport
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    SFL Group: Video Project Manager

    £24,000 pa, plus benefits: SFL Group: Looking for a hard-working and self-moti...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reservations Assistant - French Speaking

    £16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding travel c...

    Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager - World-Famous London Museum

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have a strong record of ...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Assistant

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will have demonstrable unde...

    Day In a Page

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor