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The best boutique hotels in Bristol 2023: Where to stay for culture and luxury

Take a trip to the West Country in style, with our pick of Bristol’s most luxurious hotels

Emily Payne
Thursday 23 February 2023 12:20 GMT
Bristol is considered one of the most 'hipster' areas in the UK
Bristol is considered one of the most 'hipster' areas in the UK (istock)

As the largest city in southwest England, there’s a lot more to Bristol than Brunel and Banksy. From its thriving Harbourside – complete with shipping container village and campaigning Stokes Croft – to cool Southville, antiques enclave Old Market and the upmarket Clifton Village, there’s truly something for everyone.

Whether you’re catching a show at the Old Vic theatre, stepping aboard the SS Great Britain for a dose of history, visiting one of the city’s museums or taking part in the annual Balloon Fiesta, which sees countless hot air balloons take to the sky over Bristol and the surrounding area, you’ll need somewhere decent, if not downright decadent, to rest your head at the end of the day.

Hotels in and around ‘Brizzle’ (the city’s affectionate nickname, a reference to its residents’ instantly recognisable accent) range from glamorous out-of-town lodges to classic mid-century establishments and arty hipster joints, with something to suit all tastes. Here, we’ve rounded up our pick of the best boutique hotels Bristol has to offer.

Best for hipsters: Artist Residence

Neighbourhood: St Paul’s

(Artist Residence Group Ltd)

Housed in a former boot factory on Portland Square in St Paul’s, the 23-bedroom hotel, coffee shop, bar, events space and garden is every hip Bristol-goer’s dream. Close to Stokes Croft, and with the long-standing pillar of local nightlife Cosies on its doorstep, Artist Residence is perfect for visitors with both culture and partying on their ‘to do’ lists. Expect all the same brilliant design and service touches you get from the other Artist Residences (there are outposts in London, Oxfordshire, Brighton and Penzance), from retro radios to mini Smeg fridges. You can also enjoy the hotel’s bar and restaurant, the Boot Factory, which boasts an expansive menu from breakfast to late-night cocktails.

Best for the Harbourside: The Bristol Hotel

Neighbourhood: Central Bristol

The Bristol is well situated on the city's busy Harbourside
The Bristol is well situated on the city's busy Harbourside (The Bristol)

Brutalism isn’t for everyone, but The Bristol, a beacon of 1960s architecture, is certainly the city’s most distinctive hotel – and it’s also the only one on the river. You’re well placed for a stroll around the floating harbour with its buoyant nightlife, bobbing boats and abundance of food options at Wapping Wharf. Cultural hotspots the Bristol Old Vic, Arnolfini and the Watershed are also close at hand. Inside, things are far from brutal: rooms are cool, light and hung with modern art. Plus, it has won a Green Tourism Gold Award, thanks to lower carbon emissions and less waste.

Best for budget: The Berkeley Square Hotel

Neighbourhood: City Centre

The Berkeley Square Hotel: boutique vibes at budget prices
The Berkeley Square Hotel: boutique vibes at budget prices (The Berkeley Square Hotel)

The city’s self-proclaimed first “art hotel” proudly exhibits a rotation of work by local creatives. An appealing 42-roomed townhouse, this reasonably priced hotel is situated off the top of Park Street, where you’ll find the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery and a host of exciting shops and restaurants, including everyone’s favourite gelateria, Swoon. Night owls can make the most of guest access to members’ club The Square, and enjoy the decanter of local sherry found in every room. Want more luxury? Upgrade to The Berkeley Suites next door – five individual suites over an entire floor of a Grade II-listed building.

Best for a blow out: Bristol Harbour Hotel and Spa

Neighbourhood: City Centre

The corner suite at Bristol Harbour Hotel
The corner suite at Bristol Harbour Hotel (Bristol Harbour Hotel)

Housed in two converted banks overlooking the cobbles of historic Corn Street, the Harbour Hotel is a worthy place to part with some hard-earned cash. With 42 luxurious bedrooms and an award-winning restaurant, the hotel also retains flourishes of a grand former bank. At the Gold Bar, cocktails flow and DJs spin until the early hours. If you need some pampering after a night on the sauce, head to the former basement vaults, now cleverly transformed into a spa with treatment rooms.

Neighbourhood: Clifton Village

Splendid views of the suspension bridge and gorge await at Avon Gorge
Splendid views of the suspension bridge and gorge await at Avon Gorge (Avon Gorge)

Since its dramatic multi-million-pound makeover, the Avon Gorge hotel, originally built in 1898 as the Grand Clifton Spa and Hydropathic Institution, has regained some serious grandeur. The once scruffy Red Lion pub is now distinctly classy, hotel interiors are sultry shades of peacock, navy and grey, and the original spa (buried for decades under the floorboards) is now a fancy events space. Look out for the wine cellar in the old Turkish bath. Book the Laurent Perrier Signature Suite for twin roll-top baths with a view of the Clifton Suspension Bridge and sample the wood-smoked delights of the new Goram & Vincent restaurant.

Best for food: Hotel du Vin

Neighbourhood: City Centre

Broaden your culinary horizons at Hotel du Vin
Broaden your culinary horizons at Hotel du Vin (Hotel du Vin)

Once an 18th-century sugar warehouse, this reliably posh hotel is made up of 40 rooms, centred around a secluded courtyard, along with four dining rooms. Couples should check in to one of the two Signature Suites for Egyptian cotton and his and hers roll-top baths. The bistro has a delectable seasonal a la carte menu – drop in for an assiette de crudites, with a spicy chickpea and carrot rappe, celeriac remoulade and roasted beetroot; navarin d’agneau or a custard tart with a Yorkshire rhubarb mousse.

Best for location: Number 38 Clifton

Neighbourhood: Clifton Village

Number 38 Clifton is located in the heart of leafy Clifton village
Number 38 Clifton is located in the heart of leafy Clifton village (Number 38 Clifton)

Following an extension in 2018, the immensely popular Number 38 Clifton is twice its original size – but you’ll still need to book early to avoid disappointment. Check in to room 11 or 12 for views over the Downs, along with deep bronze and chrome baths. Art-lovers will enjoy exhibited work by Stokes Croft artists and the David Hockney in the downstairs loo.

Best for out-of-town glamour: Berwick Lodge

Neighbourhood: Henbury

Escape the hubbub of the city centre at Berwick Lodge
Escape the hubbub of the city centre at Berwick Lodge (Berwick Lodge)

Don’t shout too loudly about this one. Anyone after full-blown glamour with a twist will love this glorious converted 19th-century pile in Bristol’s northern outskirts. Berwick Lodge has sweeping views as far as Wales, but it’s close enough to central Bristol to still get in on the action. Owners Sarah Arikan and her husband, Fevzi, bought it back in 2004 and have cleverly made it into Bristol’s best out-of-town option. Each of the 14 rooms is impeccably designed and the 2AA Rosette Hattusa restaurant is a great choice for hungry guests.

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