Bristol : The best city in the UK: why the surprise?
In March, Bristol was awarded first place in the Sunday Times ‘Best place to live 2017’ Guide. And now the announcement is ‘old news’, I feel safe to vocalise my surprise at, well, the surprise.
Seven years ago, before I moved to the city, I may have been among those raising an eyebrow over Bristol’s new accolade. I’ve lived in several of the country’s bustling cosmopolitan hubs, as well as some of the more rural spots, and wasn’t that impressed with either end of the spectrum.
But having spent some time getting to know Bristol and all it has to offer, it’s no wonder to me that it keeps coming up trumps. And in my humble opinion, here are the reasons why.
The history of Bristol
Bristol is steeped in history, much of which is still tangible to this day. From the 12th Century Temple Church, to the SS Great Britain and even the labyrinth of caves in Redcliffe, Bristol’s past fuses seamlessly with its modern-day vibe.
The city can even boast an array of famous former occupants, such as the notorious Edward Teach (otherwise known as Blackbeard), Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and even the elusive street artist Banksy.
Bristol's food scene
From the North to the South of the river, Bristol is home to hundreds of award-winning restaurants and cafes to sate all appetites. Every meal is more-than catered for ten times over; try a healthy breakfast of smashed avocados and poached egg at Primrose Café, or a less-healthy all-you-can-drink Prosecco brunch at Brace & Browns.
If you’ve time for lunch, you could do much worse than the Burger Joint in Bedminster, before a first-rate dinner at the Pony and Trap. (It’s a few miles out of Bristol, but the food is first-rate and the scenic views of the Somerset countryside are stunning).
Even the much-loved chains you expect to encounter in a city are situated on water fronts or in beautiful period buildings. If you can handle a cocktail or two, the covert, speak-easy themed Milk Thistle has some of the best mixes in the city – a city, by the way, famed for its love of gin.
Activities available in Bristol
There are so many Bristol activities, no audience is excluded and there’s literally something for every event. Water babies can take to the river for a cruise on the Avon, or even try their hand at paddle boarding.
Young families can spend a day at @Bristol, guaranteed to educate all and keep the kids entertained for hours. Those looking for a romantic evening can wander through the quaint, picturesque streets of Clifton before an intimate meal at one of the many restaurants (or enjoy a cocktail or two by candlelight).
Large groups can make the most of Bristol’s extensive range of bars and clubs, but it doesn’t have to end there: Groups of grown-ups (stags and hens included) wanting a west-country themed day out need look no further than West Country Games. Welly throwing, Drunk Pub Skittles and Pitchfork Duels are only a few of the crazy games that are guaranteed to bring people together and create memories that’ll last a lifetime.
Location, location, location
In short, what isn’t on Bristol’s doorstep? The city is well situated to offer some of the best of Britain. Take a short (less then two hours) drive south and you’re in Devon, home to seaside towns such as Sidmouth and Lime Regis, perfect boltholes for romantic weekends away, or a wonderful family day out.
London is easy to reach by car or train – the latter only taking about an hour and a half. If you’re looking to go further afield, Bristol airport charters flights to Edinburgh, the continent and even as the USA.
There are so many reasons why Bristol is an incredible place to live. Furthermore, future plans to improve Bristol will only fuel the love for the city, which residents – and visitors alike – find hard to contend.