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Welcome to Bristol: The perfect family staycation

Donna Richardson discovers this vibrant city is the ideal location for a family-friendly trip.

By Donna Richardson  |  April 10, 2022
clifton bridge bristol

Bristol captures the imagination like no other destination in the UK. The home of Banksy is a playground of creativity, a centre of innovation and the shipbuilding capital of the UK. In this land of the giants, anything is possible. Climb up the hills of Clifton to see the Suspension Bridge – an architectural marvel built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. As you gaze over the Avon gorge you can imagine giants stomping about, according to local legend.

Visitors to Clifton Observatory can descend beneath the cliffs into the Giants Cave where legend says the giants Ghyston and Goram lived when they wooed Avona. If you climb to the top of the observatory you can take in a wonderful birds-eye of the city, best viewed during the Bristol Balloon Fiesta in August when thousands of hot air balloons float in the skies.

Bristol is a land for the dreamers, the artists and the creatives. Discover all this and more for yourself as you visit the city, the ideal location for a family weekend away.

Discover a family-friendly city

lemur bristol zoo
Bristol Zoo Gardens are one of the city’s top attractions

Bristol is both an urban centre where Bansky reigns, and the cultural capital of the West. You’ll find art and culture in spades, from original tags on the walls to Arnolfini, Bristol’s International Centre for Contemporary Arts which has been in the heart of Bristol’s harbourside since 1961. Enveloped in the hills of Southwest England, you’ll find a city with lots of green space to explore.

The first stop for a family adventure is the Bristol Zoo Gardens, set within 12 acres of gardens that are home to 300 animal species, including lowland gorillas, a sleepy sloth and a mouse deer. Investigate creepy crawlies at Bug World, enter an underwater world at the Aquarium, go nocturnal at the Walkthrough, discover the Reptile House and Seal and Penguin Coasts. Kids can run wild in the adventure playground, and big and little adventurers alike can climb, clamber and swing through the air on the thrilling aerial ropes course, ZooRopia.

A place of heritage

bristol canal
With canals and waterways flanked by historic buildings, Bristol is a delight to explore

Bristol was listed in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle of 1051 as a port trading regularly with Ireland and as business and trade grew in the city, so did the need to develop the narrow and relatively small harbour. The geography of the land and the huge tidal range of the Avon caused problems for ships docking here so Bristol-built ships were constructed using the finest materials and most skilled techniques. Sailors visiting the port would comment on this, spawning the famous saying ‘shipshape and Bristol fashion’.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel was one of Bristol’s most famous sons, and his feats of engineering stretch to the city’s waterways. It was Brunel who played a major role in the cutting-edge design and construction of the floating harbour, which is still in use today. This new lock system trapped water in the city’s central harbour and allowed ships and boats to stay afloat without being affected by the changing tides. Brunel’s Great Western steamship was built in the city harbour and launched in 1837. It was on this launch that she became the first of Brunel’s passenger ships to travel between England and New York.

To do

planetarium bristol
The science museum We The Curious has plenty to offer visitors including the UK’s first 3D Planetarium

Of course, Brunel is also the mastermind behind the Clifton Suspension Bridge bridging the Avon Gorge. This can be found five minutes drive away in Clifton, or Clistone as recorded in the Domesday book, which translates to hillside settlement. While in this area, check out the gorgeous Clifton Village designer shopping centre, nestled amongst gorgeous Georgian architecture. Dubbed the most beautiful shopping quarter in Bristol.

Take your pick from any one of the many upmarket independent shops and boutiques selling jewellery, art, gifts, furniture and fashion. Shoppers can peruse the vast range of high-end independent boutique clothes and jewellery shops and pause to graze on hipster food in the trendy cafés and people watch while enjoying a brew. While here, make a stop off at the Clifton Arcade, a Victorian building home to a bespoke furniture company, antique collectables, a traditional sweet shop and locally handmade gifts.

Bristol itself is a cosmopolitan city that has so much to offer for families as they search for Banksy on the walls or sharks under the water at Bristol Aquarium. There’s also much to see on a giant ship at Brunel’s SS Great Britain, explore space in the Planetarium at We The Curious or pilot Concorde at Aerospace Bristol. Here, families can discover dinosaurs at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. 

Where to stay

rowan tree apartment bristol
The Rowan Tree apartments offer luxury family accommodation

The ideal base for your two-day adventure is The Rowan Tree apartment in Coltham on the outskirts of desirable Clifton just outside Bristol city centre. This lush luxury accommodation, provided by Your Apartment provides a home from home for all the family, sleeping up to six. As you approach the £2 million pound property, enter through the giant door and up a flight of steps and open the door to a luxury apartment complete with all mod cons and lavishly furnished rooms. We stayed in apartment six which was a wonderful home-from-home.

Step into a hallway and into a huge master bedroom which contains a king-sized bed and is decorated with elegant furniture. The ornate peacock lamps and oil paintings of dogs and panelled walls evoke a sense of luxury. Linens, down pillows and feather pillows are dressed in patterns of a countryside theme. There’s ample floor space to move around and a huge window letting in natural light.

The second room features another king-sized bed and a beautiful tear-shaped mirror and dressing table. The walls are adorned with luxury wallpaper to make the room even more opulent. The entire apartment spans 1200 sq ft. The main bathroom has fresh bath sheets, towels and luxury toiletries as well as a bath, while in the master bedroom there is an en-suite shower.

rowan tree apartments room
The Rowan Tree apartments boast spacious and lavishly decorated rooms

The main living area has a corner sofa, which folds into a sofa bed. This area has a flat-screen TV and a dining table where the whole family can sit and enjoy themselves together. There is also a well-equipped kitchen full of pots and pans so you can rustle up a delicious, cooked breakfast on the grill and hob and then sit down at the dining table to eat it.

The dining area itself is filled with world maps and a clock and gives the feel of a tastefully decorated space. Those staying longer can make use of a washing machine, an electric kettle and glassware. This is the perfect location to base yourself for a weekend in Bristol in the lap of luxury. Set in a residential area, not far from BBC Bristol and the university, you are ideally placed to explore. Furthermore, Bristol centre is around two kilometres away, but it is also five minutes by car to Clifton.

In a nutshell

This is a place that ignites the imagination and leaves you wanting more. Enjoy the city famous for art, architecture, culture and much more.

Factbox

To learn more about the city’s many attractions, visit visitbristol.co.uk and for more details of The Rowan Tree apartments, visit yourapartment.com