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Best hotels in Bristol 2023: For creatives, adventurers and bargain seekers

Read on for the eight best hotels to try in the buzzing south-west city

Emily Payne,Jade Bremner
Wednesday 15 February 2023 11:56 GMT
The greatest digs for a stay in one of England's coolest cities
The greatest digs for a stay in one of England's coolest cities (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The rumours are true – Bristol is banging. Brunel’s staggering suspension bridge, Banksy-scrawled walls, sweeping Georgian crescents and a pulsing centre heaving with arts, food revolutionaries and people with passion make the city a special place to be.

From the thriving docks – home to Wapping Wharf, with its cluster of lively restaurants made from old shipping containers – to cool Southville, antiques enclave Old Market and the up-market Clifton Village, there’s truly something for everyone in Bristol – one of England’s buzziest cities.

As for the restaurant scene, whether you’re after a simple latte at the Clifton Observatory’s cafe with 360-degree views of the city, or ready to splurge on the Michelin-starred delights at Paco Tapas, you won’t be stuck for somewhere to hit the sweet spot.

Likewise for where to bed down. 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 through to classic mid-century establishments and arty hipster joints, with something to suit all tastes and budgets.

Enjoy a soak with a view at the Avon Gorge (Avon Gorge)

Neighbourhood: Clifton

The terrace of the Avon Gorge Hotel has always drawn a crowd but, until relatively recently, the place was down at heel. Built in 1898, the glamour of the building, originally known as the Grand Clifton Spa and Hydropathic Institution, had faded and 60 per cent of it was left derelict. Enter now, though, and the extent of Hotel Du Vin’s £16.5m renovation is clear: think midnight blues, sumptuous velvets and sparkling chandeliers.

Book the Laurent Perrier Executive suite for a bath with a view, and sample the wood-smoked delights of the Goram & Vincent Smokehouse. The once-shabby White Lion pub has scrubbed up well, and the original spa (buried for decades under the floorboards) is a fancy events space. Look out for the wine cellar in the old Turkish bath, too.

Berwick Lodge offers beds fit for royalty (Berwick Lodge)

Best for country luxury: Berwick Lodge

Neighbourhood: Henbury

The option to arrive by helicopter speaks volumes, not to mention the fact that Berwick Lodge’s gardener was once gardener to Queen Elizabeth II. Owners Sarah Arikan (a born and bred Bristolian) and her husband Fevzi pull out all the stops to give their customers the royal treatment.

The couple bought the 19th-century property – located on the northern outskirts of the city and surrounded by 18 acres of stunning parkland – in 2004. “We spent five and a half years working on it and putting it back to how we thought it would have been originally,” says Arikan.

Each of the 14 rooms is impeccably designed and one, Troya, features a bed made from the pulpit of a church, which Fevsi picked up at Wells reclamation centre. Feeling peckish? The resplendent 2AA Rosette Hattusa restaurant is a great choice for hungry guests.

The countryside in the city: Number 38 Clifton offers exceptional views of the Bristol Downs (Number 38 Clifton)

Best for romance: Number 38 Clifton

Neighbourhood: Clifton

Fans of traditional hotels would do well to consider the renovated double-fronted Georgian townhouse that is Number 38 Clifton. Following a huge extension a few years ago, the property is now twice its original size. Rooms 11 and 12 boast aspect views of Bristol’s expanse of green, the Downs, and feature interiors inspired by Brunel, plus deep bronze and chrome baths.

In a nod to the “real” Bristol, walls are adorned with work by Stokes Croft artists and there’s a cheeky David Hockney in the downstairs loo. Need a shoulder rub? Number 38 also does spa breaks in conjunction with one of Bristol’s real gems, The Lido, one of the oldest open-air pools in the UK, dating back to 1849.

Food and drink lovers are well served at Bristol's Hotel du Vin (Hotel du Vin)

Best for wine: Hotel du Vin

Neighbourhood: Central Bristol

Once an 18th-century sugar warehouse, this super-chic hotel is now made up of 40 rooms centred around a secluded courtyard, along with four dining rooms. Check into the Veuve Clicquot room for Egyptian cotton bedding, monsoon power showers and roll-top baths.

When each of the 40 rooms is named after a wine or a vineyard, it’s a safe bet you’ll get to drink a nice drop. Indeed, “The wine book” features hundreds of wines from the hotel’s cellar. And that the tagline calls the food here “not revolutionary, just fresh and delicious” is telling: this is an excellent bistro.

(The Wave)

Best for adventurers: The Camp at The Wave

Neighbourhood: Outer Bristol

Right next to Bristol’s inland surfing lagoon in Easter Compton (a short drive from central Bristol), these 25 safari-style tents, named after famous surfing beaches, sleep up to eight people – perfect when you’ve got friends or family in tow.

Those with a sense of adventure can glamp right up close to the elements among the rolling green hills. Think waking up in the morning and walking barefoot along the boardwalk to ride waves moments away at the most consistent surfing break in the country – suitable for complete beginners to expert surfers.

So, nature on the doorstep, but is comfort sacrificed? Not a jot. Inside the canvas walls, you’ll find full beds, a private bathroom and kitchenette, plus a cosy living area and natural wood dining table, while the roaring log-burning fire in each tent keeps guests warm in the cooler months. There’s also a smart cafe and restaurant nearby serving local produce, draft beers and wine.

Brooks Guesthouse: reasonably priced, centrally located and high on the novelty factor (Brooks Guesthouse)

Best for those on a budget: Brooks Guesthouse

Neighbourhood: Old Town

You could sleep in a classic, smartly decorated bedroom – but why would you do that, when you can sleep in an airstream on the roof? Plumb in the middle of Bristol, you’ll find that this cute and good-value guesthouse is an ideal base for exploring the city centre.

The great gleaming trailers, which range from 16ft to 20ft (the largest of which can be converted to fit a family of four) are kitted out with everything you need for a cosy night. You’ll find fluffy towels, flat-screen TVs, Hans Grohe eco showers and even a mirror complete with de-mister, so it won’t get steamed up when you have a shower.

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

Best for hedonists: Bristol Harbour Hotel & Spa

Neighbourhood: Old Town

It’s apt that the Bristol Harbour Hotel was once a Lloyds and Midlands bank headquarters – stay here and you’ll almost certainly part with some hard-earned cash. The hotel itself is home to the outrageously blingy Gold Bar, where cocktails flow and DJs spin until the early hours. But it’s also perfectly located for Bristol’s famously lively nightlife (don’t leave without checking out the legendary live jazz at The Old Duke).

With 42 luxurious bedrooms and an award-winning restaurant, The Jetty, the hotel still retains flourishes of a grand former bank. Morning after the night before? Head into the former basement vaults, now cleverly transformed into a spa with treatment rooms.

(Artist Residence )

Best for creatives: Artist Residence

Neighbourhood: Stokes Croft

Moments from Bristol's city centre and set inside a former boot factory and Georgian townhouse is this beautifully dressed boutique, with original details and natural elements throughout. Shabby-chic fireplaces, reclaimed furniture, exposed brick and hardwood floors nestle alongside pops of colour in the form of vintage telephones, brightly coloured armchairs and original artworks.

The broom cupboard is the hotel's smallest and best-value nook, with just enough room for a king bed and rainfall shower. The boot room has more space, including a desk and mini Smeg fridge.

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