For 5 years I went to uni down in good ol’ Cardiff city, only a 30 minute train ride from Bristol… and only managed to visit twice. Do I feel like I wasted that opportunity? Totally. I’ve been to Bristol for a grand total of 6 times now and I love love love the vibe that the city emanates. Bristol is home to a tonne of things that I find real joy in, like street art, history, culture… oh and this city has some serious flair.
A few weeks ago, Mercure Hotels invited me down to the The Grand Bristol Hotel for my first ever Bristol sleepover where I was about to discover the magic of Bristol through the eyes of real Bristolians – Dan and Nina from Lifestyle District. From afternoon tea, to cocktails, to live street art (omg I know ???) Mercure Hotels had planned the itinerary of a little kittys’ dreams, guys.
Alix and I arrived on the Friday, and we were greeted with some of the prettiest foyer decor that I’d ever seen in a UK hotel. Ummmm all the pastel love much? All of the pieces are mismatched and quirky, with a luxe yet traditional feel to them and I couldn’t help but take away some inspo to up my own home-decor game. I was also amazed to see so much artwork on the walls of the hotel, there were beautiful pieces adorning the walls wherever you looked – the ones photographed below were my favourite. Not only this, but the pieces are all from local Bristol artists which really does emphasise how much The Grand values the local art.
Onwards and upwards, friends. We headed up to our room for a little freshen up before dinner and cocktails – I obviously was desperate to blot my face and retouch my makeup and my boyfriend was more excited about checking out the “unique artwork” in our room. I think we were both a tad bit disappointed that our room had a small slit of a window, it was pretty abysmal, there was no natural light and I don’t think I’d like to stay in a room with such a small window again. But nonetheless, the room was beautifully decorated and definitely had that modern, industrial feel to it. The crème de la crème was definitely the bathroom, it’s my ideal bathroom decor – clean and bright, with the most beautiful floor tiles I’ve ever seen. NGL, I may have taken 101 various outfit snaps against the monochrome tiled flooring….
Keepers is The Grand Hotels’ dining experience, serving lunch and snacks throughout the day and then converting into a chic bar and restaurant upon evening. The whole idea behind “Keepers” is due to the real hives of bees situated on the rooftop of the hotel, and the local honey being incorporated into the menu – neat, huh? I totally got the name and concept, but the decor… guuurl, it’s beautiful. This whole hotel has that modern, industrial chic thing down to a tea and I bloody adore it.
First thing’s first, the Purple Rain cocktail is a godsend and I would 100% recommend it. I find it really difficult to get a Purple Rain (which is my fave cocktail, ever) in restaurants and bars as no one seems to have it on the menu and happens to always be a “made on request” type drink. This was actually on the menu (what the hell) so I had to order one – and it was fab. The food itself was delish – I’d recommend the Gnocchi starter from the selection that I tried, and the steak was a real good’un but be sure to order a sauce because I think you’d be missing out otherwise.
After cocktails, a Monica, Dan, Nina and a few others in the group headed out to a few local bars to have a little nightlife experience in Brizzle – but Alix and I had been up since about 7am and couldn’t possible face another drink or the hubbub of a bar. Instead, we went on a bit of a solo expedition around the streets of Bristol at night, and ended up at the Harbourside. The Harbour is a beautiful place to be at night, with fairy lights draping across the skyline, and buskers providing scene-setting music in the background.
We had a decently early start the next day ~ not as early as we’d have liked as we didn’t get to check out the hotel pool ~ but early none the less. We were down at breakfast at about 8.30am, and the Keepers kitchen and bar was quite full of hotel-stayers having their unlimited brekkie. The breakfast was a good quality for a hotel breakfast, and the coffee machine was also great meaning you could opt for a latte or cappuccino instead of the usual black/white coffee options.
After brekkie, we met the foyer and explored the hotel a little bit more, behind the scenes action so to speak. The Grand Hotel has a vast array of meeting rooms, event rooms, wedding reception rooms what were all fabulously decorated and well equipped for their various used. One of the wedding reception rooms took my breath away, with the most beautiful chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, and hand-drawn local Bristolian wall art! We also got to see one of Bristols’ oldest haunts, the basement bar. This used to be a bar that opened to the public, but is now upon request only – it’s actually free to use with a minimum spend at the bar during the event! Creepy, but there’s an old well that remains exposed by a pane of glass…
Onwards and out into Bristol, our little tour was led by Dan & Nina and began in the traditional markets (which still accept the Bristol pound.. yes it’s a thing) which were adorable. The whole vibe was really confusing (in a good way) both an old school and modern collection of stalls and bits n’ bobs you wouldn’t know you need until you saw them with your peepers. We also headed down to the harbour area, where we spotted some colourful houses in the distance and even saw some super creepy caves, in which a scary film screening takes place around Halloween time.
Along the harbour side, there’s also a new foodie complex behind the M Shed, which is totally reminiscent of Boxpark in LDN town. We didn’t have time to stop for a nom, but I’ll 100% be visiting this foodie heaven the next time I’m visiting the area for sure. Omg guys, the best bit about this tour was the Street Art, for sure. It’s so up both mine and Alix’s street – so we were both pretty excited when we were told we’d see some Banky artwork on our exploration of Brizzle. We even passed an event where a live graffiti artist was spraying his latest artwork onto the glass of a building, it was pretty insane watching someone like this work… live. Crazy!
We finished off our brief time in Bristol with an Afternoon Tea at the Mercure Grand Hotel, which was ridiculously yummy. One Aftertoon Tea was too much for myself and Alix to eat for lunch, so if you’re visiting for an Afternoon Tea experience, be prepared for mountains of food. The best thing about the tea was definitely smoked salmon sandwiches and… well, all the cakes were bloomin’ yum.
All in all, a very successful mini break to Bristol. I can’t believe I’d missed all of these wonderful places in my previous tips, but alas, now I know where to look for all the true Bristol gems! A massive thank you to Mercure for having me also, it was a fab weekend at The Grand Hotel!
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*This experience was gifted, however the opinions and views are my own*