Bristol’s most exclusive suburb is home to some of the city’s food and drink institutions. Kathryn Lewis shares the must-visit Clifton venues worthy of a spot on your hit list
Where to stay in Clifton
Overlooking the tree-lined Clifton Downs and with sprawling city views from the rear bedrooms, Number 38 is perfectly positioned to explore Clifton and beyond. A former merchant’s house, the boutique hotel hosts 12 distinctively styled bedrooms which strike the ideal balance between contemporary design and comfort. Suites feature roll-top tubs big enough for two, plus indulgent mini bars which include a selection of wines from Averys of Bristol.
There are few better views of Clifton Suspension Bridge than those from Hotel du Vin‘s glass encased restaurant, Goram & Vincent. It’s open to residents and non-residents from breakfast through to dinner – when diners are illuminated by the glow of the bridge’s twinkling lights.
A number of the hotel’s bedrooms also overlook the Bristol landmark: the Signature Suite even has twin baths positioned under a floor-to-ceiling window so couples can soak up the view while submerged in bubbles. Every room is dressed to the nines in rich fabrics, bold colours and historic artwork, so whichever you choose it’ll be an uber-chic space to unwind after a day’s gourmandising.
Not in Clifton, but worth making the trip across town for, is newly opened Artist Residence (pictured top). Interior design worshippers will no doubt already be familiar with the collective of oneof- a-kind art hotels (there are five across southern England) and this Bristol edition is just as eccentric as its siblings.
Located in a former boot factory on Portland Square, the rooms pay homage to its past in style and name – fleeting visitors can spend the evening in The Broom Cupboard, while those staying a little longer can opt for Factory or Workshop. The decor layers bright prints and rich textiles on naked brick, bare plaster and neutral walls, affirming that bohemian chic is still very much in vogue.
Where to eat in Clifton
There are so many great places to eat in Clifton, your only problem will be deciding which restaurants make it onto your itinerary.
For great coffee and wholesome breakfast and lunch dishes, Spicer+Cole always delivers. From early doors, the cafe is packed to the rafters with locals and visitors sipping Bristol-roasted speciality coffee and tucking into plates of poached eggs, hearty salads and homemade tortilla.
Just down the road, Foliage Cafe is another good call for coffee and casual eats. Find a spot among the huge nursery of houseplants, then choose from the all-day brunch menu of favourites such as smoked salmon with whipped cream cheese, capers and dill on sourdough.
Come evening, there are lots of options for something more refined. Making their way over the Severn Bridge, in 2018 the team at Bar 44 opened their first restaurant outside of Wales. Visit the Clifton Village outpost for modern takes on classic tapas dishes, plus an impressive wine and sherry list.
For the freshest fish and seafood in Bristol, book a table at Fishers Restaurant. The chefs at the neighbourhood bistro have a hotline to the best fishermen on the south coast and turn the morning’s catch into a series of stunning dishes. Naturally, the menu changes daily, but diners can expect the likes of whole roasted Cornish plaice with prawns, tarragon butter and roasted new potatoes.
Those craving authentic Indian food will find it at Nutmeg. Head chef Arvind Pawar celebrates the diversity of India’s 29 states in a tempting menu of dishes that blend Indian flavours with West Country ingredients. Laal Maas Handi, for example, is a fiery Rajasthani curry prepared with Cotswolds lamb.
Can’t resist a good banger? Choose from at least eight different varieties at The Clifton Sausage. Of course, you’ll want to plump for The Clifton (pork, cider and wholegrain mustard) but the contemporary British restaurant also offers alt options such as Glamorgan (leek, caerphilly cheese and cheddar) and Cotswolds Lamb, Mint and Apricot.
Find more Bristol eating-out inspiration here.
Where to drink in Clifton
Coffee fans seeking a speciality fix will discover the good stuff at Twelve. The team regularly rotate the selection of beans served at their contemporary cafe, often opting for indie roasteries that don’t feature in other Bristol cafes. It’s dog-friendly too, so take your pup along to say hi to resident black lab Oscar.
Another great spot for a coffee and cake date with your pooch is pet shop and cafe Doghouse. After you’ve browsed the canine coats, natural treats, and toys, kick back with an Extract Coffee flat white and Bertinet Bakery pastry while your best friend tucks into a pupcake and puppaccino.
Leave your four-legged friend at home for a visit to Her Majesty’s. The indie bar, close to Clifton Down train station, crafts some of the best cocktails in the city and specialises in unique concoctions you won’t find anywhere else. Expect creative potions such as Scout’s Honour (Illegal Mezcal, RinQuinQuin, marshmallow syrup and lime juice) and Maid in Japan (Toki Japanese whisky, St-Germain, cucumber, mint and absinthe).
A trip to Bristol wouldn’t be complete without a pint of local cider, and The Coronation Tap is a good spot to sample the best of Somerset’s orchards. Experienced staff will help you choose from a selection that includes draught, iced and mulled ciders.
Check out our top five cocktail bars in Bristol here.
Where to shop in Clifton
For treasure hunting at antique merchants and discovering new Bristol food and drink producers in delis, Clifton is an indie shopping paradise.
Pick up local wine, coffee, chocolate and more at The Mall Deli. The team craft a tempting range of sausage rolls, pies and pasties so, if browsing the shelves of artisan goodies causes your stomach to cry out for carbs, you can pick up something to keep it happy until dinner. For more local produce, plus a good selection of West Country cheeses, pop into Chandos Deli down the road.
Pair your deli haul with a top-notch bottle from the collection at DBM Wines. The wine shop also hosts tasting sessions – check the website to see if there’s anything on while you’re in town.
East Village Cafe is fab for plant-based eats but it’s also a great spot to pick up sustainable beauty products, homewares and more. See also Smaller Footprints for zero-waste shopping. The refill shop stocks a huge range of grains, beans, cereals, herbs, spices and more to decant into reusable containers.
And for a memento from your staycation in Clifton, head to Sky to pick up a bold, beautiful print. The shop and gallery is an explosion of colour – inside and out – and features an equally luminous collection of cards.