Cool and creative, Bristol is often voted as one of the UK’s best places to live in the UK, and the happiest too. There’s always been a vibrancy and edginess to the place, and although many once-neglected areas are fast becoming gentrified, this is a city that will never lose its grit.

Bristol has many faces. Swanky Clifton is all grand Georgian mansions and greenery (a great expanse known as The Downs) crowned by Brunel’s famous Clifton Suspension Bridge, which has spanned the Avon Gorge for 150 years. The arty Harbourside area is home to the daddy of Bristol’s art scene: Arnolfini. Meanwhile, the West Indian community of St Pauls (which Zoopla rates as one of the UK’s top ten of hipster hangouts) has the bohemian, graffiti-splashed Stokes Croft on its doorstep. As you explore the area’s independent shops, bars and restaurants, you’ll see how Bristol is in a continual cycle of reimagining itself. There’s never been a better time to explore…

To Stay

Artist Residence

The opening of St Pauls first boutique hotel this summer is an exciting turning point for the area. Housed in what was once a boot factory, it’s part Georgian, part industrial in design, with 23 rooms above a community space made up of a garden, bar and restaurant.

Number 38 Clifton

As posh as it’s address might suggest, there’s a casual attitude to the luxury of this swish hotel – if you nip to the loo downstairs you’ll find a David Hockney original on the wall. The bedrooms (perhaps better to call them boudoirs) are rich with velvet upholstery and copper baths. Guests get free access to the nearby Lido.

Bristol Harbour Hotel & Spa

With a spa tucked away in what was once the vaults of two Victorian banks (the immense doors to the safe remain), this boutique hotel welcomes guests with a touch of the unexpected. Nice local nods include the Bristol-blue glass in the windows of The Jetty restaurant and Bristol cream sherry found in the decanters in the bedrooms. The rooms are both luxurious and quirky – think sumptuous upholstery, auction-room treasures and marble bathrooms.

Avon Gorge Hotel

This has always been a favourite of ours, purely for its sweeping views of Brunel’s Clifton Suspension Bridge and beyond. Since Hotel du Vin stepped in and gave the place (built in 1898) a much-needed multi-million-pound makeover, it now has a beautiful interior to match the view. Make sure you book a room overlooking the Gorge.

The Bristol

Despite its distinctive 60s build, The Bristol has successfully reinvented itself as slick and contemporary and has a great location – it’s the only hotel in Bristol to enjoy a riverside address and is but a stone’s throw to the Arnolfini, Watershed, Bristol Old Vic and Wapping Wharf, which ispacked with restaurants and bars.

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