There are no shortage of great pubs to check out on your break in Bristol. It should come as no surprise that a city with such a young population values its night life, but the variety and quality is as fine as anywhere else in the country. Elegantly dishevelled shrines to craft ale, gastropubs that offer fine dining in relaxed environments, scruffy student hangouts, traditional boozers lost in time… the city has them all in abundance. If you’re visiting the West Country and are keen to see what it has to offer the discerning drinker, read on and you might find a new favourite place to wet your whistle.
Pull up a chair and sink a pint or two in the fine surroundings of the best pubs that Bristol has to offer
If you’re a Bristolian and a fan of real ale, then chances are you’re already a devotee of The Cornubia, a regular contender for the best pub in Bristol. Every inch of this hidden gem on Temple Street is devoted to British beer, from the constantly changing ales on offer to the walls decked out in thousands of pump clips from ales that have come and gone from The Cornubia’s taps. Some pubs are very obviously tastefully designed on trend, others just cry out with a genuine labour of love that cannot be faked. This is one of those pubs.
Pull up a chair at the Llandoger Trow and let literary history surround you while you sip your pint. The story goes that this grand old Tudor-fronted pub has inspired not one but two great works of seafaring fiction. It was here that Daniel Defoe met Alexander Selkirk, the intrepid sailor who was the basis for the title character in Robinson Crusoe, while Robert Louis Stevenson took the pub itself and turned it into the Admiral Benbow Inn in Treasure Island. If afterwards you find yourself drawn to writing tales of marine adventures, you’ll know why.
The Steam Crane
The Steam Crane also has an interesting, if slightly morbid, history. Named after the industrial object – of which Bristol’s is the last surviving example – the pub has witnessed a man sentenced to hang for murdering his girlfriend and a fatal mauling by a tiger. It has gone through several names since those days, but has now been reborn as a stylish and comfortable pub with an impressive mural on the outside and a welcoming ambiance, cask ales and excellent food on the inside.
Bag Of Nails
Some pubs have a friendly pub dog that will either ignore you or greet you enthusiastically when you enter. The Bag Of Nails doesn’t have a dog. Instead, it’s got 15 cats. People have come great distances just to sit back and relax with a pint and a feline friend for company. Speaking of the pints, the selection is top notch, from real ales to craft ciders (this is the West Country after all). If you’re allergic to cats then you may need to look elsewhere on this list but otherwise, this is an eccentric establishment that is a must for fans of real ale and cats alike.
The White Bear
“Which one is The White Bear?” you might ask. Well, that’s easy. It’s the one with the huge white bear outside. The White Bear is the kind of pub where you settle in for a few pints and a game of pool in the late afternoon or early evening, only to discover that you’re still there several hours later and you’re somehow now in the middle of a very lively party. The clientele is a veritable mix, but once night falls, they’re all very much alike in their exuberance.
For such a desirable area, Clifton has long had a lack of really top quality drinking establishments. The Albion has rectified that situation with aplomb. This gorgeous little spot in a Grade II-Listed building is a cut above even the better pubs in the area. The food – contemporary British fare – is exceptional, the private dining rooms feel enjoyable and exclusive, and both the pub and its cobbled outside space are utterly charming.