Seeing the sights on an overnight stay in Bristol
You’ve got to love Bristol. Voted Britain’s best city in which to live in 2017, it’s easy to get to, its centre straddles the glorious winding Avon and it is packed with things to see and do.
Thanks to my son A-Jay being a second-year university student there, I get to visit this feel-good city several times a year. I usually just make a day of it. But it’s a good two-hour drive so I’m only there for a few hours.
On my last visit I decided on an overnight stay. A-Jay lives in student digs outside the city so, rather than try to find a place to sleep on the floor of his flat, I booked a twin room for us at Novotel Bristol which is not too far from the M32 motorway – so you don’t have to negotiate much of the city centre to get to it – and five minutes’ walk from Temple Meads station.
The modern hotel is extremely spacious with play areas for children, plus a fitness suite and ample parking. Meeting up at the hotel with A-Jay late morning, we resisted the temptation to spend all day in pubs.
A-Jay knows the city pretty well by now, and loves being a student there, so he led while I pottered obediently alongside him. After a 10-minute stroll into the city centre, we lunched in the student-friendly Harbourside area with its shops, restaurants and trendy cafes.
On previous visits, we had caught the bus to Clifton with its stunning bridge suspended high above the Avon and soaked up the incredible views across the county. There are superb tours for the visitor too, including ferry boats along Harbourside, mythical walking tours, and street art tours where you can discover three decades of Banksy creations hidden amongst the many historic landmarks.
On this particular visit, and determined to grab a bit of culture, we spent a couple of hours exploring Bristol Museum & Art Gallery. This beautiful Edwardian building at the top of the city’s famous Park Street tells the story of the world, from the beginning of time to the present day. Its 19 galleries over three floors reveal fascinating cultures, ancient civilisations and human invention.
The museum is free to enter and is great for families with its hands-on exhibits and family-friendly activity areas.
Venturing back outside, the weather was firmly on our side – a good thing too as the very hilly Bristol isn’t easy walking on the nicest of days. But its quaint alleyways and riverside vistas reveal the city’s abundance of history, beautiful buildings, mini markets and curious shops – as well as some really good pubs in which to rest weary legs.
A few beers later, and after clocking up a good 10 miles of walking, we headed to the restaurant where I had reserved a table for dinner. A-Jay and I are strict carnivores and Casa Brasil is the perfect venue for us meaties.
For a set price we ate like kings, an almost endless supply of various cuts of beef, pork, lamb and chicken being brought to our table and carved straight onto our plates. And after a very comfortable night’s sleep in our quiet room, Novotel’s hot and cold buffet breakfast was the perfect start to the day. Guests can eat as much as they want, plus there’s a menu from which you can order.
There’s also secure guest parking priced at £10 for 24 hours, really good for a city centre hotel. If you’re looking for a weekend break, with or without a student in tow, Novotel Bristol is spot-on for exploring this wonderful city.