Creative Producer and fun maker Amy Hydes shares her perfect weekend in her home town of Bristol where, according to her, anything is possible; from a picnic in the woods to a rave in an old fire station. Here are her top picks for 48 hours’ worth of fun to whet your whistle – including the best restaurants, bars and clubs, as loved by the locals.
My favourite Friday nights are spent down at Bristol Harbourside. Once a busy dock where sailors and merchants sold their wares, it’s now prime for voyages of our own. Full to the brim with restaurants, bars, an independent arts cinema and a waterfront museum, it’s always buzzing.
Just across the river is Bristol’s newest hangout, Wapping Wharf with a retail yard made of shipping containers (think Boxpark in Shoreditch).
Choose from draft beers at Wild Beer or a glass of prosecco at Cork’s whilst deliberating what to eat. For dinner – I can heartily recommend Woky Ko, a great Asian diner from former MasterChef finalist Larkin Cen, Gopal’s Curry Shack (go for the Somosa Chaat) or Salt and Malt for all your (gluten free) seafood specials. Even if you haven’t got room for dessert, Oliver’s Ice Cream will do everything to tempt you.
TOP TIP: Check out The Bristol Cheesemonger in Wapping Wharf for the finest in West Country cheese. If you’re not one for stashing cheese in your handbag, visit purely to experience what it’s like walking into a wonderfully smelly cheesy fridge.
Then hop over to the other side of the river to the Arnolfini. Ideally placed for some golden hour or just night time boozing outside with a glorious view of the water and The Matthew boat, a replica of a caravel sailed by John Cabot in 1497.
Raining outside? Head to cobbled King Street for craft beer bar at Small Bar (try the dirty fries) or traditional jazz pub, The Old Duke for live music.
If the pub is taking you to club? Head to Motion, with their new open air club, ‘Yard’, welcoming some of the world’s hottest DJs, you could be feeling the balearic vibes well into the early hours. If the weather’s gloomy, their indoor venue, Marble Factory is ideal for some solid two-stepping.
Stokes Croft is the heart of Bristol’s creative community. An open air gallery for world renowned street art that is both rebellious and resilient. It is home to one of Banksy’s first murals, The Mild, Mild West and is a playground for emerging artists, who use the city as an urban canvas to express exactly how Bristolians are feeling at the time.
Start your day at the top of Gloucester Road, (the UK’s longest strip of independently owned shops) and Bakers & Co. They do a banging flat white and the zingy Huevos Rancheros is one of my fave brekkies in town. With your stomach well and truly lined (surely you didn’t resist the warm cinnamon bun either) spend the afternoon walking in and out of shops.
Some of my best charity shop finds have been on this street. Be sure to visit RePsycho for vintage clothes & furniture, illustration emporium and exhibition space, Here and The Canteen at community arts hub, Hamilton House for a well deserved pint and, more often than not some great live music.
Follow your nose a little bit further past the hustle and bustle of Cabot Circus and you’ll find, St Nicks Market. All set in a Georgian arcade, it’s home to independent stalls, shops and street food sellers.
Make sure you check out antique shop Rag & Bone, these guys are ardent collectors and sell treasures from all over the world. It’s a snoopers paradise. Keep an eye out as they often do pop up events in their downstairs space too.
For your evening feed head to Bristol heavyweight, Poco. Teaching everyone a lesson in ethical and sustainable food, 90% of ingredients are sourced within a 50 mile radius and they work on a zero waste policy. Their tapas menu is delightfully inventive and everchanging. The place has a warm, cosy glow to it down to the open kitchen or just the espresso martinis that go down so dangerously well.
Saturday night (out out)
Hit The Volunteer Tavern in Old Market. Again, and this is a beautifully recurring theme in Bristol, there’s always something going on in this pub. Whether it’s DJs spinning tunes on the terrace or a Sunday Funday, ‘Roast & Reggae.’ The pub inside is lovely and cosy if it’s a quiet drink you’re after with a great selection of craft beers.
Then go Dutch (literally) to Bristol’s newest gin bar. Ever dreamt about putting pepper in your gin? Probably not, but get ready to broaden your gin horizons here with their extensive cocktail menu.
From here, cross the road over to The Old Market Assembly, where you’ll find The Wardrobe Theatre. This artist-led theatre supports new artists has a diverse programme of theatre, comedy, musicals and spoken word. Tickets are cheap as the Wardrobe emphasises, “We’d rather have you here sharing stories than at home crying about capitalism.” Head back into the bar after the show as dining tables are thrown to one side in favour of a dance floor for whatever music is playing that week.
On Sunday repent your sins in Clifton. A walk across the Downs with the Suspension Bridge in the distance is enough to blow off the cobwebs and get the belly grumbling for a breakfast at The Primrose Café in Clifton Village. A perfect, sunny spot for people watching and opposite the best named veg shop, Reg The Veg, it’s a well loved institution that has been going for 25 years.
Attempt to walk your bagel off by visiting super stylish stationers, Papersmiths, on the corner, it will set your work space loins on fire.
TOP TIP: Only for the feline hearted. Visit cat pub, Bag of Nails in Hotwells, a 15-minute walk down the road. Alcohol and cats combined. Enough said.
Now I’m not saying I do this very often but if it’s sunny and you’ve packed your swimmers then splash out (thank you) and visit The Lido in Clifton.
When the weather’s right, there’s no better place to be than beside this pool. The water is always crisp and refreshing and there’s a hot tub, sauna and steam room to be explored too. Swim and Eat packages are available if you wanted to make a day of it. This award winning restaurant serves up enough tasty treats to set you on your way back to the train station, the only downside being you’ll want to come straight back next weekend.
Set right by St Nicholas’ market in the heart of town, Brooks is a great value and super central pick for your stay in Bristol. Choose between more classic style rooms or the cool rooftop rockets up top.
Address: Exchange Avenue, St Nicholas Street, Bristol BS1 1UB