We may not be born and bred Bristolians but we absolutely love the city and tell everyone who’ll listen (and even those who won’t) how absolutely wonderful Bristol is.
So when we were asked to lead a tour of the city for visiting bloggers, we jumped at the chance quicker than it takes Banksy to hit the button on the top of a spray can!
The invite came from the lovely team at Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel.
Mercure has several hotels in Bristol but the Grand is definitely our favourite.
The company has spent a tonne of cash on transforming the 150-year-old iconic building.
Working with street art festival Upfest, the biggest in Europe, the hotel oozes Bristol out of every nook and cranny so it was perfect base for showing off our hometown.
Even though we only live 15 minutes walk away we got a taxi to the hotel for the ultimate staycation.
We checked in and admired once again the bright and airy reception area with a collection of chairs and sofas to die for!
At the centrepiece of the welcome area is a gorgeous, specially commissioned mural by Bristol street artist Gemma Compton and arriving in our room, we were delighted to discover our own mini framed version of the piece as a gift from Mercure! Check the video below for a pic.
The rooms at the Grand are super stylish and ours had the added luxury of an extra bed with its own little area separated from the rest of the room by a wall and small window.
After taking in the Bristol-inspired street art, warm wall colours, very comfy bed, perfectly Instagrammable bathroom floor and the bloggers’ dream of double USB sockets next to the bed (yay!), we headed down to Keepers, the hotel’s bar and restaurant.
With its bee themed interior (honey from the hotel’s very own bees is used in the cocktails!), the Grand has a great looking and very atmospheric new-look bar.
It was here, while a sipping a few of the yummy signature Purple Rain cocktails, that we met our tour group:
- Lins from Boo and Maddie
- Grace from Girl in Bristol
- Vix Meldrew
- Holly from The Kitty Luxe
- Laura from Bugs and Fishes
- Ben Lamb
- Ross and Amy from Simple Lampoon
The drinks and conversation flowed (check the video below) as we tucked into dinner.
Keepers’ surroundings are superb with quirky features such as books stuck to the walls, trailing plants, very inventive ways to keep that hive theme going and the great value cocktail menu is impressive. Unfortunately though it has a few problems still to be ironed out.
The service was friendly but slow and while the steak went down very well with the carnivores and I enjoyed the starters, my fish could have been better quality. The brownie ice cream sundae was also disappointing.
After a few more drinks and a quick trip out to a local bar, we headed back to the room for a comfy night’s sleep in that massive bed.
Day two began with breakfast back in Keepers.
There were no food disappointments this time. It was very yummy with good quality cooked ingredients and the all-you-can-eat buffet style meant several visits to the serving area!
Before we hit the streets, Rachel, the events manager at the Grand, gave us a tour of the hotel.
From the outside you would not believe the amount of event space housed inside.
The hotel has capacity for over 700 people including a spectacular ballroom which, as part of the big makeover, features stunning hand drawn artwork by Bristol artist Cai Burton.
Another hidden gem is in the hotel’s basement.
When I first moved to Bristol, I used to hang out down there in Marlow’s cellar bar as it was one of the few places open for late night drinking.
Now only available for private events, it’s home to a 600 year old well!
Tour of Bristol
With the hotel tour over, it was time for Lifestyle District to take charge.
We headed out into the heart of Bristol’s historic Old City and led the bloggers into the eighteenth century St Nicholas Market, a must-see during any visit.
As predicted, our visitors loved St Nicks, as it’s known to us locals, with its quirky indoor market and amazing street food area.
We might have only just had a massive breakfast but it was hard to resist the smells from the food court as the vendors got ready for the day’s trade.
But we were on a schedule!
Walking through the market we headed towards the harbour. On the way, I went proper tour guide and gathered the group on a corner proudly telling them that a famous scene from Only Fools & Horses was filmed there. They seemed impressed. I think.
Heading to Redcliffe, my favourite part of the historic Bristol harbour area due to its lack of modern development, we stopped for the ultimate Bristol Instagram moment; a row of coloured houses.
Wandering the cobbled streets we paused for a quick peak inside the spooky caves that stretch underneath the road and regularly used for horror film screenings as part of Bristol Film Festival.
Arriving in the centre of the city and the MShed museum, we took the bloggers to the top floor for spectacular views of the harbour including The Matthew, a replica of the 15th century caravel that John Cabot sailed from Bristol to Newfoundland in 1497.
With Banksy one of the city’s most famous sons, street art is a major attraction. We’d received a tip off that some live art was in progress.
Arriving at Colston Hall, we watched as an artist was painting onto the front of the building the portraits of eight famous music legends who’ve performed at the concert venue; among them Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong and David Bowie.
From Colston Hall we headed to the Christmas Steps taking in the Foster’s Almhouses, founded by bequest from merchant John Merchant in 1492.
Strolling down the Christmas Steps, a steep street lined with independent shops, is always a joy and we of course pointed out one of our favourites, the legendary 20th Century Flicks DVD rental store with its private mini cinema.
Next stop was Nelson Street. In 2011 the street, made up of not very attractive concrete buildings, was handed over to graffiti artists for what at the time was Europe’s largest street art festival.
Many of the buildings have now been converted into student flats but some of the amazing art remains.
From Nelson Street, we reached the Bear Pit, a once rather scary subway that’s now home to independent food outlets.
The Bear Pit signals the start of Stokes Croft, where our tour came to an end. This bohemian area leads to Gloucester Road, Britain’s longest street of independent shops.
We concluded our stroll around Bristol with, what else, but a Banksy. The famous Mild Mild West was the perfect backdrop for the obligatory group photo.
By this point, we’d worn off that big breakfast with all the walking so headed back to the hotel where we were treated to a yummy cream tea.
The perfect end to a great 24 hours and we definitely enrolled some new recruits in our We Love Bristol gang. Job done!
We were invited to stay at Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel with complimentary food, drinks and accommodation. All opinions are our own.