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.


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.


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.


Step out of the guesthouse and you're immediately engulfed in the enticing Babel that is St Nicholas Market ( 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;, hosting unpredictable contemporary exhibitions and performances of visual and musical arts. Across the harbour sits M Shed (0117 3526600;, 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;, lovingly restored to evoke life aboard a Victorian steamship.


The Ox (0117 9221001,, 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;, conjuring up novel twists on classic cocktails in a witty bar decked out like a Gothic-style gentleman's club.


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

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - OTE £36,000

    £12500 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This established Knaresborough ...

    Beverley James: Accounts Payable

    £23,000: Beverley James: Do you have a background in hospitality and are you l...

    Recruitment Genius: Cleaning Manager - York and Bradford

    £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The post holder is a key member of the V...

    Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Breakdown Recovery Drivers

    £18000 - £28800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Breakdown Recovery Driv...

    Day In a Page

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower