The kooky charm of the Artist Residence brand finds a natural home in an historic Grade I-listed Georgian property on Portland Square, Bristol.
The Artist’s Residence’s fifth outpost was delayed by the pandemic but opened quietly in 2021 in a quirky, historic corner of the south west city of Bristol, accessible to both all the arts and culture the city has to offer, as well as the countryside and coastline of Somerset. Founder Justin famously dropped out of university to help his family revive their B&B in Brighton, bringing in local artists to add colour and kitsch to the walls. And so the formula of quirky, boutique boltholes was born, now with locations across Oxfordshire, Cornwall, London and, most recently, Bristol in the portfolio.
Eschewing the manicured terraces of Clifton and the bustling city centre, The Artist Residence is tucked away in the creative quarter of St. Pauls. Housed in a converted industrial Boot Factory, it also features a grander Georgian Townhouse wing which includes some of the hotels larger suites and communal spaces.
The bohemian home-from-home feel that is in the Artist Residence’s brand DNA is strong in its Bristol outpost. With no formal reception, the team greets you in the Georgian hallway, slips you a key to the front door and your room and then graciously retreats, leaving you to feel like you’ve got the run of a fun, slightly eccentric, aunt’s house for the weekend.
No two bedrooms are the same, with each filled with commissioned artworks from local artists. If your room is one of the twenty-three in the Boot Factory, expect pitched ceilings, exposed beams and brickwork, with velvet soft furnishings and characterful mishmash of furniture. Upgraded to one of the two suites? You’re in for a Georgian treat, with full-height picture windows with views over the leafy garden square, roll-top baths and acres of room to stretch out. Original features have been preserved, rather than restored for a shabby chic artist commune feel – expect bare plaster walls, impressive ornate cornicing and worn wooden boards. Bathrooms are filled with organic Bramley products, with thoughtful touches like This Works Pillow Spray and a Smeg mini bar stocked with enough snacks and tipples for the perfect bed picnic.
City breaker couples and cool media types can be spotted loafing in the library or dining in the newly opened restaurant. It is perfect for weekends a deux as a bolthole for enjoying the city’s galleries and live music venues. Bringing the brood? Family and dog friendly rooms are available.
Food & Drink:
When we visited, the hotel’s restaurant wasn’t quite ready for visitors; breakfast was served in the library with a spread of locally sourced coffee, pastries, omelettes, juices and cereals. Come evening the space turned altogether cosier, with open fireplace and fun drinks list. Since we visited the hotel has opened its ‘neighbourhood hub’, a cafe, kitchen, event space, courtyard garden and bar. It offers everything from morning coffee all the way through to cocktails in the light-filled, open-plan space, complete with ping pong table.
Head to Poco for tapas in arty Stokes Croft nearby, or why not graze your way around the street food stalls of St Nicholas Market? The Clifton Lido is a great spot for an al fresco swim, spa and spot of lunch on the pool terrace. Launched in 1982, the Watershed is a film, culture and digital media centre with an ever-changing roster of indie films, events and festivals. Or visit the city’s iconic Arnolfini Contemporary Arts centre with its ambitious, diverse programme of visual art, performance, dance, film, and music. For kids who love all forms of transport, head to Aerospace Bristol or step aboard Brunel’s SS Great Britain. Hometown of graffiti artist, Banksy there are a number of walking tours to take in the city’s murals and street art – some of it by the Bristolian secretive artist himself.
Once inside the cosseting walls, the hotel’s faded Georgian glamour with a quirky make-over feels fun, hip and relaxed. While the immediate vicinity is a little uninspiring, it is a handy central location from which to explore the old and new quarters of the city.
Doubles from £125. Book here.
By Lydia Mansi