I was last in Bristol in the 1970s when the harbour was a desolate wasteland. Since then it’s been spectacularly transformed by tasteful new developments which include bars, restaurants and art spaces. The centrepiece is the SS Great Britain, the world’s first ocean-going steel steamship. It’s been magnificently restored to its former glory and also has a glorious exhibition about the life and times of its builder, Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
The Bristol has been here since the 1960s in various guises but it’s now part of the Doyle Collection and been comprehensively refurbished. The exterior is slightly brutalist concrete but inside its chic airy spaces are bang up to date, with subdued lighting, cool colour and contemporary furnishings.
The 187 rooms and suites match that theme, smart cream and red with comfy beds and Nespresso machine. All have large screen LED TV’s, USB charging ports, tea and coffee making facilities, plus bundled bathrobe and slippers. The marble bathrooms offer Temple Spa toiletries and there’s complimentary mineral water. A nice touch is that they also give you a small bottle of water at check out.
The hotel works well for business travellers, with nine meeting rooms which can accommodate up to 400 people, and a location right in the heart of the city. That also makes it good for weekend breaks, weddings and special celebrations as it sits right on the harbour. Environmentalists will like its green tourism credentials, as it’s a winner of a prestigious Green Tourism Gold Award and committed to sustainability. Apparently they recycle 100% of their food waste.
Recreational amenities include a fully fitted fitness suite, complete with treadmills and cycle. For that early morning jog, the hotel provides a free map showing the local running routes.
The River Grille restaurant, right on the quayside, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, looking over the water. Next to it is the River Lounge & Bar, which offers morning coffee, light lunch, traditional afternoon tea and evening cocktails. The Shore Café Bar is a stand-alone informal bar, with big screens for watching sports, and has live music at weekends.
Bristol is very much a city to explore on foot and just a couple of minutes’ walk away is the contemporary arts centre known as the Arnolfini, with M Shed, the museum for all things Bristol, just over the bridge. The new development here is home to numerous bars and restaurants. The nearby Spike Island is home to the award-winning SS Great Britain, built in Bristol by Brunel and recognised as one of the country’s finest tourist attractions.
Shopping takes place in Broadmead and Cabot Circus, with many of the streets pedestrianised, home to over 100 shops, including well-known brands such as Reiss, Harvey Nichols, Topshop and House of Fraser. Quirky individual shops can be found on Park Street, which leads steeply up to Clifton village.
I enjoyed my weekend in Bristol and the hotel’s location meant that I could get to and from the station and enjoy the nightlife without having to rely on taxis or buses. Paradoxically, the waterside views from my 5th-floor room afforded a sense of space and I didn’t feel like I was in the heart of a bustling city. Best of all was taking breakfast right by the side of the harbour.
Tell Me More About The Bristol Hotel
THE BRISTOL Prince Street Bristol BS1 4QF
T: +44 117 923 0333
Rooms from £99 with breakfast included. All who arrive by train receive a 15% discount in The River Grille restaurant.
Parking is available for a reduced fee of £9 per night in the adjacent NCP.
Bristol Temple Meads railway station is a thirty-minute walk away or a ten-minute taxi ride. Bristol Airport is around twenty minutes away.