Things to do in Bristol

After writing a book about Cornwall the South West feels like my second home. Bristol is a handy stop halfway between London and the Cornish county, and has plenty to entertained for a weekend away.

Bristol

Stay

Hotel du Vin Bristol – The Bristol branch of this hotel chain is housed in the historic, and wonderfully restored Sugar House, a Grade II listed building. Conveniently located in the centre of town with spacious bedrooms and efficient service, the Hotel du Vin is the ideal place to stay whilst visiting Bristol for a few days.

Bristol

Food

Casamia – This beautifully minimalist Michelin star restaurant serves an immaculate tasting menu inspired by the seasons. Casamia was once an Italian trattoria before being taken over by the owners sons who transformed the eatery into Bristol’s most refined restaurant. Chef Peter Sanchez-Iglesias has received many accolades for his evocative and delicious cooking.

Root – Cargo in Wapping Wharf, is a trendy new area of cafes, shops and restaurants, all housed in converted shipping containers. Root is a vegetable focussed restaurant with a short but creative menu, with chef Rob Howell at the helm. Everything is delicious.

Bar Buvette – This stylish French bistro and bar champions organic wines and comforting French cuisine. The quirky decor is very instagrammable and the communal dining ensures the atmosphere is always jolly. I can’t think of a more lovely place to spend a Friday evening, feasting on roast rabbit and sipping a unique glass of red.

Bristol

Drink

Small Street Espresso – Appropriately named considered its address on Small Street, this independent espresso bar offers perfectly brewed coffee and a cosy place to enjoy it. The design is lovely too… expect to find exposed brickwork, original floorboards. Pick up a homemade cake and ask the barista about the weekly guest roasts.

Full Court Press – This popular speciality coffee shop was opened in 2012 by caffeine connoisseur Mat North. The cafe is decorated with attractive mid-century decor and has a regularly changing selection of beans, masterfully poured.

Hyde & Co – One of Bristol’s finest cocktail bars, this little speakeasy hang-out serves up classic concoctions, inspired by the prohibition era. Mixology fans should also visit the sister bar, Milk Thistle.

Bristol

Shop

Papersmiths – This colourful stationery emporium is a must for all pen and paper addicts. The shop stocks international magazines and paper related products alongside systematically organised stationery, carefully chosen from designers around the world.

Dig Haushizzle – At the top of the Christmas Steps you will find this antique furniture and vintage design store created by Cassandra Linton and Edward Nicholas. Crammed with eclectic and interesting items you’ll want to find a home for in your home.

Hoko Menswear – One of the many premium fashion shops in the upmarket area of Clifton. Hoko stocks desirable designers such as Margaret Howell, Aesop, Acne and Sunspel, to name a few.

Bristol

See

Arnolfini Gallery – A cool, contemporary gallery on the waterfront. Arnolfini is free to visit, and also hosts poetry and book readings and artist performances.

Banksy Street Art – Banksy was born in Bristol in 1974 and many of his most famous street art is found in the city. Look up a route online and take a self-guided tour around the city centre to see some of the most prominent and shocking pieces.

Clifton Suspension Bridge – This iconic bridge stands tall over the Avon Gorge, a beautiful structure by architect Isambard Kingdom Brunel which has become a symbol of the city.

Bristol

Escape

The Ethicurean – This idyllic restaurant set amongst the lovely Mendip Hills countryside is the perfect day trip from Bristol. Walk around the lush gardens before settling for lunch in the pretty greenhouse dining room. I adored every plate of food from the starter of Tandoori cauliflower with smoked almonds, roasted brassica tops, apricot labneh & cashew pesto to the simple but divine dessert, Sticky toffee apple cake with clotted cream ice cream & honeycomb.

Passo Restaurant, Old Street

Passo is the most recent restaurant to join the ever-evolving Old Street roundabout. This all-day modern Italian eatery comes from the team behind Foley’s and Run Kitchen, and hopes to offer simple and authentic dishes that are delicious and fresh.

Passo

The large restaurant has different seating arrangements dependent on your needs. Grab a quick pizza and enjoy it at the bar stools, or indulge in a leisurely lunch with friends at a more relaxed booth. The menu has a range of Italian classics on offer, from nibbles and small plates to pasta and grilled dishes.

Passo

I visited in the first few weeks of service when Passo was still finding its feet. Our sweet waiter lingered by our table, checking every few minutes if we needed anything else… his intentions were good but the constant attention got a little irritating.

There is lots to choose from and eventually we decided on a few plates from each section. From the small plates list: Burrata with Zucchini Chips (mint and basil oil) and Fried Artichokes with Green Sauce. Both these (vegetarian) dishes were a triumph, carefully balanced flavours and textures that worked extremely well together to create tasty and moreish plates of food.

Passo

Of the ‘Salads’, Passo Panzanella with Silician Tomato, Cucumber, Red Onion and Rye Croutons was a simple but fresh choice, generous in size but in need of a little extra seasoning. From the ‘Vegetables’ section the BBQ Cauliflower was a stand-out dish, dripping in creamy decadent Chilli Aioli and crushed Pistachios.

Passo

The pasta at Passo is well made and beautifully yellow in colour. Pappardelle with Wild Boar, Taleggio and Port Sauce is a rich but satisfying recipe. Thick strands of pasta were thoroughly coated in a lovely meat sauce which had impressive depth of flavour. When ordering pizzas watch out for the white pizzas… only a few have tomato bases. We chose the Finocchiona Salami with Mozzarella and Oregano, which was perfectly nice but nothing special, and I really missed having a tangy tomato base…

Passo

There was definitely room for improvement in the dessert section. We tried the Panettone French Toast with Pistachio Ice Cream and the Gelato in Olive Oil Brioche with White Chocolate Sauce. Both were a little dry and uninteresting, though the ice-cream was well made. Also on the menu was Fried Ricotta Ravioli which I slightly regret not trying.

This modern Italian restaurant is definitely a welcome addition to Old Street round-about and I’m sure it will be a hit with weekday workers in the area as the kitchen continues to improve.

More information and book a table at Passo here.

The Residence Hotel, Mauritius

Contrary to the picture perfect postcards and brochure covers, the sun doesn’t always shine in Mauritius. Unfortunately it poured with rain for most of the two days we spent at The Residence, however it is testament to the staff and the facilities on offer that even in the dismal weather everyone at The Residence was having a good time.

Residence MauritiusResidence MauritiusResidence Mauritius

Advantageously situated on the east coast of Mauritius on one of the most spectacular stretches of white sand beach, even in the rain the sea was a stunning shade of pale aquamarine. This well-known hotel was one of the first luxury accommodation options on the island, and continues to be incredibly popular with returning guests.

Residence MauritiusResidence Mauritius

The Residence has 135 rooms and 35 suites across seven different categories, making sure all couple and family groups are catered for. I was surprised to find the bedrooms quite dated and old-fashioned. There was only a little natural light in our ground floor room which made it easy to forget we were on an exotic island.

Our garden view room had a very comfortable King size bed, small living area and a desk for working. The decadent marble bathroom also lacked daylight but did have a powerful shower and nice bathtub.

Residence MauritiusResidence Mauritius

There are two main restaurants to choose from at The Residence. We were particularly fond of The Plantation, which offers elegant oceanfront meals and lively evening entertainment. The menu focusses on the freshest local seafood and creole cuisine, we loved the vibrant curries, with beautifully balanced spice.

The more casual Dining Room restaurant has a more varied offering of international cuisine, and often hosts themed buffets in the evenings. At lunchtime guests can have a light bite to eat at The Verandah.

Residence Mauritius

The spa is discreetly tucked away on the lower ground floor, a quiet and calm retreat from the sun, or rain! We spent a leisurely afternoon enjoying the sauna and steam room facilities here, before an invigorating massage. The therapists (Shay and Ereena) had strong and soothing hands, they used nourishing aromatic oils to massage the the tension away and relieve jet-lag tiredness.

Residence MauritiusResidence Mauritius

On our second day at the hotel we spent a great hour with Rishi, one of the hotel chefs, learning how to cook a typical Mauritian curry. It was a wonderfully aromatic curry, and surprisingly simple to create once you know how. Rishi was clear and patient with us as we tried to perfect the art of roti making!

The Residence

Just as we were packing our bags to leave The Residence, the sun miraculously came out. Suddenly the pool sparkled and the palm trees came to life. It was beautiful.

Though The Residence has become tired with age, this iconic colonial hotel still has the potential to be one of the best hotels on the island, but it needs a refresh and a few new ideas.

More information and book a room at The Residence here.