On the banks of the River Avon framed by English countryside is Bristol; a city that hit headlines for being fiercely protective of its independent community in 2011 when residents of the Stokes Croft neighbourhood rioted in protest against plans to open a chain supermarket in the heart of the community. With residents this passionate about preserving the city’s independence, what better destination for an independent staycation? With insider recommendations from our local shopkeepers, this is your definitive guide to where to shop, what to do and where to eat in Bristol.
As you step foot in the Clifton neighbourhood, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d arrived in Bristol’s elegant sibling city, Bath. Georgian townhouses, towering oak trees and exclusive eateries flank Clifton’s streets.
With a location in Bath and two boutiques in Clifton, Maze’s reputation as one of the UK’s leading fashion destinations is well-earned. At the helm of this fashion empire is Hannah Holloway, daughter of Maze’s original founders Glenn and Gill who opened up shop in 1985. The team carefully curate an edit of clothing, accessories and lifestyle products for men and women across their two stores on the same street. Maze at No.18 (the more conceptual of the two) focuses on lifestyle and interior accessories, while Maze, the larger store, is where you’ll find Maze’s signature edit of clothing in an expansive, Scandinavian-inspired shop setting.
A slice of Scandinavia in Clifton, Oskar Furniture is dedicated to celebrating the best of design. Founder Marie fills the shop space with designs from all corners of Europe including HAY, Vitra and Stelton. It’s an unmissable shop for anyone who loves design.
And of course no visit to Bristol is complete without a visit to Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s masterpiece, the Clifton Suspension Bridge.
Vegetarian? Check. Locally roasted coffee? Check. Hanging plants? Check. East Village ticks all the right boxes. With an entirely vegetarian menu comprised of local ingredients, East Village is the perfect place to refuel during your staycation. Vegans and vegetarians will rejoice at the number of cafes and restaurants offering plant-based fare in the city.
If Clifton made you feel like you were in Bath, then a stroll through Stokes Croft might have you feeling like you’ve landed in Berlin. The city’s alternative neighbourhood is less polished than Clifton, but what it lacks in refinement it makes up for in street art, independents and community spaces.
Located on the longest stretch of independent stores in Europe, Fox + Feather is a homewares, lifestyle and fashion boutique founded by Clare, a former buyer and visual merchandiser. A space to shop, browse and try on the friendly Fox + Feather team are always on hand to help you find the perfect piece to take home with you.
A short walk up Gloucester Road takes you to Reason Interiors, founded by sisters Alice and Louise. Inspired by characterful Cotswolds homes, Reason Interiors stocks homewares and lifestyle products that the duo have sourced themselves.
Spoke & Stringer on the waterfront is a triple threat: a shop, deli and tapas bar. Inspired by ‘ride culture’, the shop at Spoke & Stringer stocks cycle and surf clothing and accessories, while their deli next door sells locally made ice cream and coffees.
Ride the cultural wave across to the Arnolfini Gallery where you’ll find contemporary art curated within a beautiful, harbourside space.
Crossing the River Avon will bring you to the Bedminster neighbourhood. Thanks to affordable rents the area is home to a thriving independent community with many independent businesses popping up here; amongst them is Mon Pote.
Translated to English from the original French, the shop name means ‘my friend’ and it’s true that the boutique is a welcoming space with shelves stocked with plants, design-led homewares and accessories curated by the owner Anna.
Our whirlwind guide to an independent staycation in Bristol is over but as with all cosmopolitan cities there are a wealth of independent gems to uncover. Let us know in the comments what other shops, restaurants, and creative hubs you discover on your travels.