If the food scene in Bristol hasn’t quite won you over yet, just wait until you get a taste of its nightlife – it is legendary. Whether you’re a dusk until dawner who loves long sweaty nights in a former indoor skatepark, or someone who prefers the finer things in life at a mysterious prohibition themed bar (Gin cocktail in hand), Bristol will cater for you. It has pubs, speakeasies, comedy clubs, magic (yes magic) bars, and so so much more…
Over the years, my choices in how I spend my evenings have changed. I guess that is what naturally happens when you leave the student bubble and enter the world of a nine-to-five job. My nights spent sweating and two-stepping to some of the world’s biggest DJs in iconic venues such as Motion and Lakota, have been somewhat replaced with equally as fun prosecco-fuelled evenings in some of Bristol’s coolest cocktail bars.
For those of you looking to hit Bristol’s nightlife, here are a few great spots for that epic night out…
Ok, so I had to mention Motion first, considering it is always ranked high on the UK’s top nightclub lists. Not for the fainthearted, Motion used to be an old indoor skatepark before it was renovated into the industrial maze-like superclub of today. Always packed to the brim (especially during In:Motion events and Summer day parties), an evening at Motion will have you dancing until the sun comes up! My only advice is to have sensible footwear, considering that any form of shoe you do decide to wear won’t come back in the same condition you left in. Be sure to catch the In:Motion series line up around September time. Tickets sell fast! https://www.motionbristol.com/
For the day time drinker that will end up staying out for most of the night too, I would recommend King Street. With a number of great traditional pubs and bars skirting a large outside seating area, the cobbled King Street looks very picturesque in the Summer and has a great buzz about it during weekend afternoons and early evenings. The Apple Cider Boat is a fantastic bar on the water just around the corner from King Street and offers a huge range of fantastic ciders of all flavours. When the sun goes down, head inside Kongs Bar for a game or two of old-school Pacman and a cool relaxed vibe.
If you’ve been hemming and hawing over where to go and time is quickly ticking on, I suggest heading to Gloucester Road. Yes, it is student central; however, you’ll be surprised to find this very long and busy road always delivers no matter who you are. From Attic Bar in Stokescroft that offers a great outside drinking space, to The Love Inn, The Anchor, and The Social to list but a few, there is a pub or bar open late wherever you turn. If you’re looking to go somewhere a little bit different that offers live music, head to Bootlegger! The cocktails are delicious and the live music is enormous fun! https://bristolbootlegger.co.uk/
Go Back to the Prohibition
Don’t miss out on the bristol drinking venues that are hard to find! Scattered across central Bristol are a number of cool prohibition and speakeasy themed cocktail bars; however, you may have trouble finding them as their locations are kept a secret – shhh! The Milk Thistle is a fantastic night spot, with a beautiful interior. Hidden by its very ordinary and non-descript front door, a secret knock will get you in. I advise that you book in advance to avoid disappointment as this trendy spot gets really busy on a Friday and Saturday evening. Another great prohibition bar to try is Red Light. I have a lot of fun taking friends here and enjoy their looks of pure horror as I lead them up to the graffiti ridden front door and telephone. Just dial any number on the phone and someone will be up to let you in! Again, book in advance!
The Milk Thistle
The White Lion Bar
For one of the best views in the city, go to The White Lion Bar located in the Avon Gorge Hotel. Drinks are a little bit on the pricey side at £5.85 for a pint of Draught Beer and £28 for a bottle of Prosecco; however, the view from its outside terrace is truly spectacular. With a birdseye view of Avon Gorge and the iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge, it is a bar that cannot be missed by those visiting Bristol short term. Enjoy a cold Sauvignon blanc whilst sat in the warm British sunshine and marvel at your surroundings…
Harvey Nichols Second Floor Bar
Located in the heart of the bustling shopping centre, Cabot Circus, the bar located on Harvey Nichols’ second floor is chic, sophisticated and overlooks Quakers Friars. With a beautiful long bar lit with delicate silver lights and manned by some talented mixologists, it is the perfect spot for a glamorous evening with friends. It is also open until late, so there is no need to worry about where you are going to go next! The cocktails are on the pricey side but what do you expect? Every cocktail I have had the pleasure of trying has been delicious, and paired with its classy and elegant interior, Harvey Nichols Bar is worth the extra pounds.
Around Park Street & Whiteladies Road
Always a fantastic night due to the sheer amount of bars available, Park Street, Whiteladies Road and the areas surrounding them are home to Brace and Browns, Be At One, new spots Lost and Found and The Florist, and Illusions Magic Bar to name but a few. Once you’re here, relax in the knowledge that you won’t have to jump in a taxi to travel to your next drinking spot! Bristol Harbourside is also just a short walk away where you can enjoy a number of other locations such as Las Iguanas who offer two-for-one cocktails all day every day!
No matter your age or your taste in alcoholic beverage or evening environment, you will be sure to find and fall in love with a number of venues across the whole of Bristol. Now in my fourth year here, I am still discovering new places to drink and dance the night away. Bristol is modern, innovative and caters for absolutely everybody and it is this inclusiveness that can be seen in its thriving nightlife.
When it comes to going out in bristol, I only have one extra piece of advice and that is to try somewhere new. With so many different venues to visit, it would be tragic to not give some of them a go and I do hear of people who consistently go to the same handful of locations. The Florist has recently opened up at 69 Park Street and it is gorgeous! Filled with colour, art, and tonnes of flowers, the aesthetics of the place is Instagram worthy alone! https://www.instagram.com/thefloristuk/?hl=en
Please do comment with any Bristol recommendations you have! Where is your favourite city to go out?