Bristol and I share a whole lot of history. I spent my late teens and twenties studying at the university, and even though I now live further afield in the Cotswolds, I still commute there daily. It’s where I met my husband too!
Even without that connection, it’s easy to see why Bristol was recently voted the best place to live in the UK; it offers all the best bits of a big city but feels far more like a collection of vibrant and diverse small towns and villages; thriving communities rich in culture and steeped in history.
For those of us in need of a fashion fix, Bristol is also a shopping paradise with high street favourites and amazing independents wherever you turn. Think boutique clothes and accessories, kitsch gifts and must-have homeware. Throw in some of the most unique and exciting foodie haunts, and Bristol makes for a perfect weekend escape!
Here are some of my top picks for a perfect minibreak…
TAKE A STROLL ALONG THE HARBOURSIDE
Bristol Harbour is simply stunning; the perfect mix of industrial revolution and cutting-edge creativity. Whilst you’re there, head to the Watershed cinema and catch an indie flick – be sure to stay for a drink or two afterwards, as the views from their balcony are superb.
WHERE? 1 Canon’s Rd, BS1 5TX
SWOON OVER COLLEGE GREEN
Swoon’s heavenly dark chocolate sorbetti recently made it into the top 50 Great Taste foods in the UK, and what’s more, it’s dairy free too. Try it alone, or combine it with another of the indulgent flavours they make each day. Gelati in hand, cross the road onto College Green and enjoy views of the Cathedral, and the hustle and bustle of busy Park Street.
WHERE? 31 College Green, BS1 5TB
SHIP SHAPE & BRISTOL FASHION
Fellow Oasis fans will be delighted to find not one, but two Oasis shops, both in the middle of Cabot Circus and out at Cribbs Causeway, a massive shopping complex on the outskirts of Bristol.
Over at the Cribbs Causeway store, you can enjoy a real treat and book in for a free personal styling session as part of the Oasis My Personal Stylist service. I recently enjoyed a fabulous afternoon there with Lucinda, an incredible personal stylist and all round lovely lady who helped me transform my wardrobe from drab to fab in the space of a couple of hours. We even had chance to sip on champagne too. Heavenly!
If you’re a shopaholic like me, then once you’ve finished updating your wardrobe with Oasis, you’ll need to head out and explore the rest of Bristol’s shoppers paradise.
For unique gifts or a work of art, head to Blaze, a small cooperative run by local creatives which is filled to the brim with on trend Bristol inspired artwork. They’re all super reasonable and being local, none of your friends will have anything like it! Colston Street is also home to Digg Haüshizzle – think dark interiors with a mix of unusual vintage homewares, furniture and modern taxidermy. I challenge you not to find something to your taste.
If you’re a magpie like me, pop on over to Clifton Village Arcade where you’ll find the incredibly talented Hermione Harbutt; Hermione is renowned in the wedding industry and her jewellery speaks for itself – stunning, handmade pieces that truly make an outfit. I wore her creations on my wedding day and it’s where I always send Mr L for my special birthday treats.
For vintage and quirky independent finds head to Bristol’s bohemian quarter, Gloucester Road. You’ll discover miles of one of a kind treats to satisfy your shopping habit. Make sure you take some time to admire the street art that adorns much of this vibrant area, complete with a Banksy or two.
WHERE? Blaze, 84 Colston St, BS1 5BB
Digg Haüshizzle 51 Colston St, BS1 5AX
Hermione Harbutt, 13 The Clifton Arcade, Boyce’s Ave, BS8 4AA
Gloucester Road, BS7
LEISURELY LUNCH AT ST NICK’S MARKET
If you’re as indecisive as me when it comes to food, you’ll love the choices on offer at St. Nick’s Market. Home to established Bristolian names like Grillstock and Pieminister, this is a serious foodie hotspot. My current favourite is Japanese eatery Eatchu; think light as a feather gyoza and delicious donburi rice. Yum! If cake is more your thing, head across the market to Ahh Toots! for something sweet and truly scrumptious.
WHERE? St Nicholas Market, Corn St, Bristol BS1 1JQ
PARKS, PICNICS AND PENGUINS
Escaping from the Bristol buzz for a little while, check out some of Bristol’s beautiful green spaces. My favourite is Brandon Hill, where you can climb up Cabot Tower for a superb view across the city; make sure you bring your camera for this one. If the weather is good, get your lunch goodies to go and stroll up to Durdham Downs for a scenic picnic (or take the bus if the hills have defeated you). Whilst you’re there, pop in to Bristol Zoo Gardens and see the penguins – there are plenty of other animals too, but the adorable penguins are my go to for an instant dose of happy.
WHERE? Brandon Hill, Park Street, BS1 5RR
Durdham Downs, Stoke Road, BS9 1FG
Bristol Zoo Gardens, College Road, BS8 3HA
A WHOLE LOT OF HISTORY
Back on the Harbourside, check out the M Shed where you’ll find interactive exhibits and diverse collections spanning Bristol’s famous past and more recent history. With free entry too, this is a collection that is simply not to be missed. The fabulous SS Great Britain is just around the corner too if you fancy seeing life below decks and climbing the riggings. Aye aye Captain!
WHERE? M Shed, Princes Wharf, Wapping Road, BS1 4RN
SS Great Britain, Gas Ferry Road, BS1 6TY
TASTING MENU AT WAPPING WHARF
One of the newest additions to Bristol’s food scene is the wonderful Wapping Wharf. Recycled shipping containers have been cleverly bolted together to create a collection of small but perfectly formed independent restaurants, shops and bars. I love to head down there after work and create my own mini food crawl, ordering my favourite small dishes from several eclectic venues. It’s the perfect option to combat my indecisiveness and means I can have tequila cocktails with truly authentic Mexican tacos and nachos at Cargo Cantina, Japanese and Asian inspired dishes from Woky Ko, and a dirty burger and fries at Squeezed, all washed down with wild fermented beer and gin at Wild Beer. It’s even better with friends as you can order loads of different dishes to share.
WHERE? Wapping Road, BS1 4RW
No visit to Bristol would be complete without taking a trip to see Brunel’s masterpiece; the Clifton Suspension Bridge. Sure, it’s pretty beautiful during the day, but for me it becomes simply stunning at night with the twinkling city lights unfolding below.
WHERE? Bridge Road, BS8 3PA
Our thanks to Sarah Lewis, creator of Cotswolds and Bristol based lifestyle blog LewisLoves.com for her fascinating insights into the beautiful city of Bristol. We can’t wait to take a trip!