Who loves a city break? With many people looking to organise a staycation this year, we thought why not run a series of interviews highlighting some of the UK’s wonderful cities. Over the coming weeks we will be publishing a different city each week, they are all places we personally have visited and loved, and in some cases have lived in for a period of time.
Guidebooks are ok, but let’s be honest, most of the time they only highlight the obvious tourist attractions or the featured business has paid to be in there, and isn’t necessarily going to be the best place the city has to offer. When we go away, we want to know the secrets of a city, those quirky little places away from the tourist traps, the places where the locals go. So, we have pinpointed some cities and sourced a local to get an insider’s advice on where to go and what to do.
This week we caught up with Jess from Bristol who has a fabulous beauty and lifestyle blog; A Brunette Edit which we religiously follow for tips and advice on beauty products. In fact, she made us understand what Beauty Pie is all about, and now we're hooked on their products!
Bristol is such a vibrant and colourful city with a huge art, music and cultural scene, a buzzing café culture, shopping to suit everyone's tastes, and views from every street. If you have never been - make sure you add it to your bucket list!
Jess, thank you so much for speaking with us, tell us about yourself, how long have you lived in Bristol and what do you love most about the city?
So, I’m a relative newcomer to Bristol, having only moved here two and bit years ago after meeting my, now husband, who lived here! However, it feels like I’ve lived here forever as it’s such a friendly and welcoming city. Fun fact - I grew up in Somerset and one of my earliest memories is visiting Bristol Zoo, which we now do with our own children.
Describe your perfect day wandering around the city – where do you go, what do you do?
A perfect day in Bristol would involve a lazy wander around Clifton village, stopping off at Spicer and Cole for a yummy brunch. A picturesque walk over the Suspension bridge to Aston Court, and down to the harbourside for a ferry trip across the water before walking back home and possibly with a stop off at Mrs Potts Chocolate House for a treat to fuel the walk home! Then late in the afternoon, a swim at the Clifton Lido before dinner overlooking the water.
Where would you take visitors to show them the ‘real’ Bristol?
Bristol has so many pockets of history and culture to explore, but I think the best place to start is the harbourside, M Shed museum and Whapping Wharf. The hustle and bustle of this area teamed with its history makes it the perfect spot to while away an afternoon.
Where’s your favourite area in the city and why?
My favourite area of the city is Clifton Village, partly because it is easy walking distance from our house, and partly because of the friendly vibe and boutique shops and cafes. I love the mini London atmosphere of this area, the views over the whole city, and the countless yummy spots for cakes and treats! A must visit here is Anna Cake Couture for their amazing macarons.
What would you say is Bristol’s best kept secret?
Bristol’s best kept secret…… my husband would say him! However, I think the open top bus tour is a pretty perfect way to explore the city, the commentary is always informative, the guides friendly, and it really does show off the diverse areas of the city in the best possible way! Our other (not so well kept) secret is Banksy! Download a walking guide to see all his most famous artwork, and see the city on foot!
When you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city centre, where do you head to?
When we want to escape the city we are spoilt with options. Leigh Woods, which is on our doorstep is a beautiful open space perfect for children to run around. However, my favourite spot to head out to is Westonbirt Abortorium which is just the most gorgeous expanse of trees and woodland where you really can get lost on an adventure, and still make it home in time for tea!
When in need of a little retail therapy, where do you head to?
One thing Bristol does very well is retail therapy, there is something for everyone. From the high street shops at Cribbs Causeway to the independent stall and sellers of St Nicks Market. I personally love the eclectic mix of Gloucester Road which spans boutique clothing shops, artisan food sellers, and everything in-between. The vibe is friendly, you will always get a smile, and you can easily while away time browsing every type of shop under the sun.
Are there any hidden gems you can recommend?
When it comes to hidden gems my personal favourites usually involve food. Pinkmans Bakery on Park street is a must visit for their famous sough dough doughnuts, and East Village café in Clifton serves the most amazing selection of vegan food, with cakes to die for!
If you prefer something a bit more diverse then Clifton Thai on Whiteladies Road does one of the best Pad Thai’s I have ever eaten! Once you have picked up your culinary delights head to the Downs for a picnic and a gorgeous view of the Avon Gorge and Suspension Bridge, and soak up the city vs country atmosphere that Bristol does so well. When it reaches that time of the day head to the Hotel Du Vin in Clifton Village for a G&T on their terrace overlooking the suspension bridge (hands down the best view in the city)! Keep looking up and you might spot a hot air balloon or two – another hidden gem found in the sky.
During the warmer months hot air balloons can often be seen floating across the city culminating in the balloon festival which has the most amazing night glow displays, they are just magical and so worth a visit to see.
What are your top 3 tips for visiting the city?
- Plan your day in advance, the city is sprawling over quite a large area, and whilst you can walk it, you’ll see more by planning a bus route or getting the open top bus tour.
- Bristol is hilly and has lots of uneven/cobbled streets. Plan your footwear accordingly!
- Come in the summer – Bristol really comes to life during the summer with festivals, open air lidos and street entertainment. Whilst all seasons have something to offer, I truly think summer is the time to really experience the full variety of what the city has to offer!
When is your favourite time of year in the city and why?
My favourite time of year in the city has to be summer. The blossom trees in the village areas are just beautiful, and flowers pop up everywhere adding to the prettiness of the city. Everyone has a spring in their step and smiles that bit much more! The café culture gets going, and my morning walk to work is fuelled by the views of the city skyline and the odd hot air balloon! The harbourside festival is a must visit along with the balloon festival, they really showcase Bristol’s love of art, music and culture.
Bristol’s Best Bits:
Coffee – Spoke and Stringer
Dinner – Clifton Thai
Brunch – Bake smiths
Drinks – Noto
A little Culture – The M Shed
A Pamper Session – Urban Beauty Bristol