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Bristol is FAR more than just a cheap place to lay your head when you're visiting Bath. Firstly, Bristol's maritime and industrial history tells a dramatic tale. Secondly its architecture is impressive, with a particularly famous contribution by Brunel - the Clifton Suspension Bridge - and some lovely Victorian and Georgian set pieces. And thirdly it's a particularly vibrant place to be - there's a healthily blossoming arts and music scene and the streets are packed with cutting-edge restaurants, bars and world class museums. And the range of accommodation is wide too, with the best places to stay in Bristol ranging from traditional establishments to chic guesthouses.
Once Bristol's docks had the look of being used up and discarded, as this city's great industries, shipbuilding, the railway and manufacturing, moved out.
But these days they've been polished up and this is where you can find some of Bristol's must-see treasures. Including the SS Great Britain, Brunel's great vessel, and the world's first iron hulled, screw propeller-driven, steam powered passenger liner. Almost 100metres long, she could manage the Atlantic crossing to New York in just 14 days. Next to the SS Great Britain, which is in dry dock, set upon a 'glass sea', is the Maritime Heritage Centre, also definitely worth a look in.
Bristol's new M Shed museum has been built inside a massive old warehouse by the docks, and it's certainly worth a look in - especially seeing as it's free. It's a social history museum about Bristol, which might sound a bit dry until you realise that quite a bit of interest has happened here, including the docking of slave ships and Wallace and Gromit.
Before we stray too far from Brunel, remember to add the Clifton Suspension Bridge to your 'to-do' list. 76metres high, and highly photographed, the bridge dramatically spans the Avon Gorge. Clifton was once a well to do spa resort but became an elegant, cliff top suburb in the 18th and 19th Century.
As befits a city of this size, Bristol has great entertainment options for local folks too, like great parks, a zoo and an aquarium. It's also got an excellent art gallery, an observatory, and an older part of town with beautiful architecture, markets and plenty of shopping.
Bristol also has it's own Old Vic theatre, and, as the home of Banksy, it's known for its excellent street art. So, as you can see Bristol has a very varied and meaty cultural life to get your teeth into!
- If you're looking for something a bit unique you'll be wanting No 38 Clifton, a stylish and intimate Geogrian townhouse in elevated Clifton, with stunning views over the city and countryside. No 38 also does spa breaks in conjunction with the famous Bristol Lido.
Best Hotels in Bristol
Brooks Guesthouse 27 rooms from $96Bristol (Somerset)
Located in Bristol's Old Town, Brooks Guesthouse enjoys an excellent location. Choose from novel winnebago accommodation or classically decorated bedrooms - all fitted with mod-cons such as i-pod docks, TVs and DVD players. Superb locally sourced breakfasts are served each morning. A great stay.Local exploring - Right in the thick of it, you are walking distance from some of Bristol's main attractionsGreat walks - Cross the Clifton Suspension Bridge and visit some of the olde world pubs and shopsLocal markets - St Nicholas Market is on your doorstepViews - Great views from hotel
No 38 Clifton 9 rooms from $169Bristol (Clifton)
Stylish and intimate townhouse accommodation in Bristol – a real home from home. The elevated position provides stunning views over city and countryside alike. A classy spot for relaxing city break or base for exploring the area.Views - Wonderful views over both Bristol and the surrounding countrysideSights nearby - Well located for major sights.Recommended by - I Escape, Mr & Mrs Smith, CN Traveller
The Bristol 187 rooms from $177Bristol
A large yet discreet, contemporary hotel in a quiet, central location with a waterfront restaurant, gym and free parking. Recommended for both business and social occasions.Sights nearby - Walking distance of theatres, art galleries and much moreViews - Book a room with a harbour view
Bristol Harbour Hotel 42 rooms from $206Bristol
Harking back to Bristol's former mercantile glory, Bristol Harbour Hotel combines a lavish style with contemporary comforts. The luxurious rooms are elegant and the hotel's excellent bar provides a lively, atmospheric place to enjoy an evening drink. The perfect launchpad for a fun weekend.City Style - With an award winning restaurant, a plush spa and knockout cocktails it's the perfect hip base for exploring Bristol.Local markets - Only a two minute walk from St Nicholas Market.Sights nearby - Visit the iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge.OpulentRecommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith