Review: Artist Residence Bristol
In a former boot factory perched in Portland Square sits Bristol’s buzziest new hotel. It’s the latest launch from Artist Residence, the boutique hotel group known for its quirky hotels, with outposts across the country. The pandemic delayed the launch of the fifth branch, but this autumn, Artist Residence Bristol was finally able to open its doors – and it was certainly worth the wait.
Review: Artist Residence Bristol
Co-founder Justin Salisbury caught the hospitality bug back while helping out with his family B&B in Brighton back in 2008. In a bid to jazz up the venue, he sent out an ad for artists to decorate the rooms in return for a stay – and before he knew it, the hotel’s walls, floors and ceilings were alive with unique murals. This was the beginning of Artist Residence. Along with now wife Charlie, Justin set out to transform the concept into a business, going onto open a second site in the Cornish seaside town of Penzance, followed by branches in Pimlico and Oxfordshire.
Renowned for its art scene, Bristol was the perfect next step for Justin and Charlie. The old boot factory had all the qualities they typically look for in a site, such as an interesting history, original beams and exposed brick walls – and its location within the creative community of St Pauls was the cherry on the cake.
As usual, many of the original features remain, but rooms have been given the signature industrial-luxe Artist Residence twist. There are 23 bedrooms, ranging from the tiny Broom Cupboard to two excellent suites. Each room has its own unique character, though regular features include vintage furniture, exposed brick walls, remnants of graffiti and Georgian cornicing – and all feature specially commissioned works from local artists. For ultimate luxury book the Artist Suite: a high-ceilinged open-plan room with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking leafy Portland Square. It’s the epitome of shabby chic: think wooden flooring and distressed furnishings, with colourful décor including a pink scalloped armchair, mustard yellow curtains and a mint green 19th century-style bathtub. It’s all about the comfort here: don your fluffy robe, sink into the super king bed and pop a movie on while tucking into some Tony’s Chocolonely from the mini-fridge.
Throughout the hotel, everything is designed to feel like a home away from home – albeit a very trendy one. You have your own key to get into the building and there’s a general laid-back, informal vibe, with friendly staff on hand to assist with any queries.
In early 2022 the hotel will welcome a neighbourhood bar, café and kitchen – but for now, The Library should be your on-site go-to for snacks and tipples. Continuing the homely feel, it features a fireplace and cosy sofas designed for snuggling up with a good book, with eclectic artworks dotted around the walls – including a diamond-dust Party Like it’s 1999 original work by Dave Buonaguidi. Each morning a homely breakfast spread is laid out: coffee, juices, pastries, fruit and granola, all locally sourced. Later in the day it becomes a bar, with a selection of cocktails, ciders and wines on offer alongside cheese and charcuterie boards. Try one of the signature tipples: a smoky martini made with Laphroaig 10yr, brandy, orange liqueur and caramel syrup.
It’s tempting to curl up inside for the entirety of your stay here – particularly if you’re lucky enough to be residing in one of the larger rooms – but Artist Residence Bristol is also perfectly placed for a weekend exploring the city. You’re just a five-minute walk away from Stokes Croft, Bristol’s cultural and artistic hub boasting a wealth of street art as well as numerous bars, restaurants and an independent cinema. Shopping centre Cabot Circus is also just down the road – and if you visit during the winter, the surrounding streets are transformed into a Christmas market. We’re told there are big plans for the hotel’s own cultural scene too, with hopes to launch a programme of events there from early next year.
THE FINAL WORD
Once again, Justin and Charlie have knocked it out of the park. Expect the rustic, stylish charm that we’ve come to expect from the hotel group – but with a special sprinkle of Bristol flair. No doubt it’s set to become a key part of the neighbourhood.
Doubles from £95, artistresidence.co.uk
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