Whether it’s secret bars with hidden entrances, the endless pubs of the ‘Beermuda Triangle’ or the unparalleled underground club scene, Bristol city nightlife has a well-earned reputation for being one of the best in the country.
Speakeasy-style bars have been popping up all over the place in recent years. Secretive low-lit dens of delightful cocktails and comfortable surroundings, they’re always a sophisticated option for when you want to go for something to drink. The only issue is that they often revel in their ‘hidden gem’ status – so you need to know where to look.
A prime example is Hyde & Co in a backstreet basement just off The Triangle. It takes its inspiration from the secret bars of the Prohibition era. That’s why it’s so hard to find. But keep your eyes peeled for their logo – it’s a bowler hat – and an unmarked black door. Ring the doorbell and you could well be welcomed into one of the best bars in Bristol. It’s stylish, the music only adds to the vibe, and the staff know their stuff when it comes to cocktails.
The Milk Thistle is Hyde & Co’s younger but bigger brother. It started life as one of Bristol’s best-kept secrets, but word got out pretty fast. Understandably so; it’s hard to keep tight-lipped about a venue that could have come straight out of The Great Gatsby. The entrance ritual is rather hush hush – you have to ring the doorbell to be let in, and you’ll be asked to wait in the reception while a host finds a table on one of the four floors. It’s best when it’s not quite so busy – and it can get very busy. But the decor is delightful, the cocktails are good and, as if it didn’t have enough of an exclusive air about it, The Milk Thistle also offers private dining.
If you’re looking for a bar in Stokes Croft, there are dozens for you to choose from, and they each offer something different. By and large, it’s worth exploring to see what takes your fancy. But, we’ll give you one recommendation to get the ball rolling. The Love Inn is one of Stokes Croft’s favourite bars, restaurants and live music venues, and it’s less than half a mile from our City Centre (Haymarket) hotel. The drinks menu of ‘Love Inn Classics’ features your typical crowd-pleasers, plus they have an ever-changing selection of ‘Seasonal Greats’ to take you out of your comfort zone. The food’s good and, as you’d expect with Stokes Croft, the atmosphere’s easy-going. But, the best thing about The Love Inn is that it hosts some of the best DJ nights in the city, booking big names from around the world.
BrewDog has become a global phenomenon. Soon to have more than 50 locations around the world, they’re one of the pioneers of the craft beer revolution. As you’d expect, the selection of beers is second to none. The bar itself has picturesque location overlooking the waterways, and if you’re peckish, then you can’t go wrong with their sourdough pizzas.
If you’re staying at our City Centre (King Street) hotel, you’ll be happy to hear BrewDog is just 300 metres down the road. It’s not your most convenient option for a quick pint though. That title goes to The Beer Emporium on King Street, less than 150 metres away. It’s wall to wall with bottles of craft beer from around the world. Plus, the underground bar has a whopping 24 beers on tap, split half and half between keg and cask. You’re spoilt for choice, but the good news is that the bartenders are great when it comes to recommendations.
If that’s still not enough variety for you, stay on King Street but make your way a few doors down to Small Bar where they have a frankly ridiculous 31 beers on tap. Don’t be deceived by the name; there’s plenty of room inside – Small Bar is all about small breweries. They’ve dedicated themselves to the independent beer makers who are pushing the industry in exciting new directions. You know how they say variety is the spice of life? Well, that’s one of the reasons why they don’t do pint glasses. You’re encouraged to try as many as possible, so it’s best to be on the safe side with smaller measures.
Our last recommendation is the Famous Royal Navy Volunteer, another one of King Street’s finest – you see why it’s been nicknamed the ‘Beermuda Triangle’? Also known as The Volley, it might well be our single favourite pub in Bristol. Set in a 17th-century townhouse, they only serve beers from carefully selected UK craft brewers, and they have an incredible wine list hand-picked by Cheltenham’s boutique wine specialists, Tom l’Anson. As if that wasn’t enough, they do great pub grub – posh scotch eggs, fish finger sandwiches and a sublime Sunday roast.
Cosies is the beloved Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde of Bristol’s club scene. It tries to tell the world that it’s a wine bar, but that’s only half the story. It’s been one of the city’s best-loved underground venues for decades, with nights ranging from reggae to bass, gabba to deep house. If you’re anywhere near Portland Square, simply follow the vibrations.
Stokes Croft’s Lakota is legendary in Bristol’s club scene. For a time, it was one of the top nightclubs in the entire country, booking some of the best house DJs from around the world. It’ll always have its rave-culture roots but nowadays, nights span a wider range of sub-genres too.
On the wrong side of Temple Meads’ tracks, you’ll find Motion. Spanning four rooms and a large terrace, it plays host to some of the city’s biggest and best nights out. Playing all genres and booking internationally acclaimed DJs, it was voted one of the best clubs in the world by DJ Mag.
Last but not least, we’ll give a quick mention to Bristol’s superclub, Pryzm. It’s actually two clubs in one, with seven rooms, five bars and a licence that’ll keep you going into the early hours of the next day.
You're spoilt for choice when it comes to Bristol hotels as there are no fewer than ten to choose from within 15 miles of the city centre - perfect for exploring the culutural and historical highlights of this flagship city of the south-west.
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