How To Get There:
Bristol is one of the best-connected cities in the UK. Trains from London Paddington to Bristol Temple Meads take around an hour and 40 minutes, while National Express coaches departing from Victoria take around 2 hours and 45 minutes (fares from just £3.90). If you’d rather drive, the journey takes roughly three hours from London – just make sure to set off early to skip the rush-hour traffic.
Once you’ve reached the city, make a beeline for one of Bristol’s many cafés or restaurants for brunch. Located along Bristol Harbour, Spoke & Stringer serves breakfast buns and burrito bowls until 12pm – think halloumi and bacon with harissa, and hearty portions of scrambled eggs with chilli and slow-roasted pork – while Brace & Browns in the upmarket Clifton area does a great boozy brunch on Saturdays (£35pp), including three courses with unlimited prosecco.
Exploring The City:
Once you’ve had your fill, walk along Bristol’s harbourside where you’ll find weekend farmer’s markets, small boutiques and breweries. Check out the gothic architecture at Bristol Cathedral, which is just a five-minute walk away, where you can join the Banksy Walking Tour of Bristol (£10.50pp) to stop at his studio and take in various artworks dotted around the city. If you’re feeling peckish, the Cathedral Café makes a good pitstop for coffee and a slice of cake.
Most hotels allow check-in from 3pm, so if you haven’t already dropped off your bags, head to your accommodation – there’s no shortage of cool places to stay, but there are a few SL-approved hotels worth knowing about. Artist Residence has recently opened an outpost inside a former boot factory in St Paul’s, just a few minutes from Bristol’s city centre and Stokes Croft – Factory rooms are ideal for a weekend, while Loft rooms are slightly more spacious and come with roll-top baths. Groups or those on a girls’ trip will love Mollie’s, a cool motel from the creatives behind Soho House, where you can book rooms for up to four and enjoy American-style dishes at its kitsch diner.
Once you’ve settled in, walk across Clifton Suspension Bridge which looks beautiful lit-up at night, then order drinks at Lost & Found, a cool bar just a five-minute walk away. There’s an extensive selection of cocktails, spirits and craft beers on offer, as well as tasty bar snacks if you’re hungry.
UNSPLASH / ARTHUR OSIPYAN
For a casual dinner, Wapping Wharf along the harbourside has a great selection of restaurants to choose from. Japanese restaurant Seven Lucky Gods serves quality sushi, while Squeezed is the place to go for burgers, fries and homemade soda. For something a little more upmarket, book a table at Root, which specialises in modern vegetarian dishes like ricotta dumplings, crispy cauliflower and mushrooms, and burrata with squash.
Kong’s on King Street is one of the city’s coolest hangouts where you can enjoy live tunes spun by tops DJs and play beer pong or retro games on the arcade machines. Anyone on a girls’ trip should book tickets for nightclub Thekla (you might recognise it from the TV show Skins), which is located on a cargo ship on the harbour. Expect to hear 90s R&B and deep house during late night sessions there.
If you don’t want to have breakfast at your hotel, have it at The Crafty Egg in Stokes Croft. They don’t take bookings and only have a few tables, so if you’re lucky enough to get a seat, we recommend ordering pancakes with crispy bacon or the Turkish eggs with pitta. If you’d rather eat on the go, you can’t go wrong with a takeaway salmon and cream cheese bagel.
Chill Out Time:
Spend the afternoon at Bristol Lido. The outdoor swimming pool is heated throughout the year – non-members can book a two-hour slot to use the facilities, which include a sauna, steam room and hot tub. Afterwards, stop for coffee or breakfast cocktails at the Poolside Bar. If you’d rather do some exploring and enjoy a walk, visit Clifton Observatory located next to the Suspension Bridge. Dating back to the 18th century, the building itself is steeped in history and now has an on-site museum, café and the ‘Giant’s Cave’ – ancient ruins that run underneath the observatory and into the Avon Gorge.
Whether you’re after vintage shops and homeware stores, or wine cellars with plenty of souvenir options, Bristol has it all. Gloucester Road has the most independent shops of any street in the UK, including Fox + Feather, which has a great selection of Scandi homeware and clothing, and The Breadstore, which is loved by the locals for its fresh loaves and cakes – ideal for souvenirs if you don’t mind queuing.
Those in the know return to Pasta Loco for its rotating seasonal menu of fresh pasta time and again. Inspired by the flavours of Florence, dishes are simple and delicious, and the portions generous. Previous menus have included combinations like fettuccini with wild mushrooms, bucatini in a crab bisque and sweet potato and spinach rotolo.
The Milk & Thistle is an award-winning cocktail bar on Colston Avenue. The prohibition-style venue has quirky interiors, with plush leather sofas and a range of cool artwork. The bar also hosts regular jazz and live music nights which is best enjoyed alongside a couple of classic cocktails like negronis or spicy margaritas. At weekends, get involved in the ‘wine and oyster hour’ – the perfect end to any trip.
*DISCLAIMER: Travel restrictions are changing daily, so please check the latest government advice before you book anything. Visit Gov.uk for more information.