There’s two days worth of beautiful sights to be enjoyed in this lively, unique area of Bristol.
I took the opportunity to join TC on an overnight trip to Bristol so I could explore the Clifton area and I wasn’t disappointed with it’s Georgian architecture and laid back vibe.
We stayed in the Avon Gorge Hotel which is a fairly new addition to the Hotel du Vin stable and has all the hallmarks in terms of design and style that you would expect. It has a prime position overlooking the gorge and the mighty Clifton suspension bridge, all of two minutes away and a glass front bar and all weather deck which offer stunning views into Somerset – if it’s not a rainy grey day in April!
The walk up to the bridge is pretty impressive – two buxom towers and an elegant span across the huge span of the Avon River. The Clifton side is set in a park, and the Observatory is set up on a rise about the bridge. It houses a camera obscura and a rooftop terrace offering amazing views in all directions. You can also enter Ghyston’s (Giants) Cave, a natural cave in the gorge’s limestone face. A tunnel leads down 130 steps into the dark, you come out on the cliff face and get a very different perspective on the gorge and the bridge.
Clifton is very pretty. Lots of leafy parks and gardens and lovely architecture. I headed for Clifton Village which is a lovely area of independent shops, boutiques, cafes and restaurants with a hip vibe. There’s a dearth of coffee and cake shops to make up for all the walking. I ate lunch at Spicers and Cole: Coffee and Kitchen – a lovely frittata and exciting fresh salads in a bustle environment, but there are plenty of other choices. I spotted lots of very nice looking independent eateries (alongside the usual Cote and pizza places). Locals favourites include The Clifton Sausage which sports 6 varieties of sausage on the menu at any one time and the charming East Village Cafe, where brunch attracts a good crowd. There are also lots of great looking independent pubs if a wee pub crawl is your thing. Bristol has a big student population and that generally means vibrant, cool options.
Right opposite the East Village Cafe is the Clifton Arcade, again all independent stores, including a couple of lovely galleries featuring good local artists. There are some delightful nicknack emporiums.
I’m not usually a fan of the hotel restaurant as I like to get out and explore, but this was a works do so I went with the majority and we ate in. Luckily this was Hotel du Vin so the food was pretty good and the view stunning by night.
So all in all, I really liked Clifton. The architecture is lovely – long streets of imposing golden Georgian townhouses with intricate balconies, ends of streets opening out onto great expansive views over the Somerset countryside. It’s very elegant. There’s a really vibrant feel and I imagine in the Summer, when everyone is outside enjoying the greenery and eating outside, it would be a really fun place to hang out for a while.