If you know Bristol at all, you’ll know that it’s a city with a strong creative and fiercely independent spirit. I go as far as to say it’s famous for its independent retail scene, with Gloucester Road (my manor as it happens!), even earning the title of 'longest street of independent shops in Europe'.
As a small independent business myself, I think it’s vital to support this hugely diverse independent scene. But, it’s pretty hard give a comprehensive guide so when I say 'Bristol's best...', i really mean my pick of my favourite indies to shop, eat, drink and play at.
And apologies to all you south Bristolians out there. My list clearly reflects which side of the river I live on, but I’d love you to hit me up with your suggestions for your southside faves too!
Without a doubt my go to place for dinner out, Poco (aove) serves THE most fantastic veggie-centric tapas. Devoted to local sourcing and seasonal eating, its ever changing menu is an absolute joy to behold.
Poco has won a serious armful of awards for its commitment to sustainability, but trophies aside, this is food that speaks for itself. Plus, an added bonus for me is that they don’t take reservations on Friday or Saturday evenings so it’s ideal for the disorganised. Simple roll on up then enjoy a drink in the bar while you wait for a table. Wonderful!
For a stationery obsessive like me, Papersmiths in Clifton is just pure heaven. Since the launch of their first shop in Bristol in 2014, they’ve grown and now have outlets in London and Brighton too.
It really is paper goods and accessories delight. Beautifully merchandised shelves and loads of fab magazines to choose from. I challenge even the most hard hearted stationery refuser not to lust after a little pot of paperclips once they’ve stepped inside Papersmiths.
Fancy dabbling in a bit of creative pottery painting fuelled by coffee and awesome cakes? Then Kiln’s Workshop (above and top of page) is your place. This welcoming and informal studio hosts pottery painting throughout the day and a range of creative classes in the evening and Lou and her crew are always on hand to help. A great spot for kids and adults alike.
Fox & Feather
Once you've had your fill of creative fun at Kiln, then head down the road to the rather gorgeous Fox & Feather. This clothing and homewares boutique has been a mainstay of Gloucester Road since 2012. It's one of those brilliant shops where you're guaranteed to find something you like, whether you're after a present for someone else or indulging in a little self gifting :) If you're in the area, check out its new sister store IDA too.
I'm heading south now for some more beauticious homewares from the small, but perfectly formed Mon Pote (above). It's stuffed with pots & planters, baskets, textiles (including some lush wall hangings), jewellery, stationery (did I mention I love stationery?!) and some lovely bits for kids. Well worth a visit, or check out their online store and beautiful Instagram feed.
I have so much love for this amazing, groundbreaking grocery store, Bristol's first zero waste shop. Bring your own containers and fill up on everything from pulses, cereals and pasta to flour, spices and tea. The staff are super friendly and helpful and will explain how it all works. They also stock a lovely range of beauty products and homewares. Yes please!
A beautifully curated gallery space and jewellery workshop right in the heart of Bristol, Flux (above) is local silversmith Sarah McCallum’s brainchild. It stocks a range of beautiful art, ceramics, glass, sculpture and jewellery and also hosts regular exhibitions. If you’re after a present for that special someone, then this is definitely the place to go to.
Boston Tea Party
I can’t finish this without an honourable ment of Bristol stalwart BTP. This family run chain of cafes first opened its doors on Park Street in 1995 and now has outlets all over the West Country and beyond. They make my list not just for their delicious breakfasts and custard tarts, but also because they recently banned takeaway cups from all their outlets. Instead, you can buy a reusable cup or borrow one in return for a small refundable deposit. It takes guts to do be the first cafe to ban single use cups, so it's a double thumbs up from me.
I hope you like my list, but if your favourite indie is missing and you feel the need to set the record straight then drop me a line in the comments below or get in touch via my Instagram
Elin Horgan is a British jewellery designer & maker of beautifully simple handmade pieces crafted from sustainable materials in her Bristol studio. You can read more about her work and the ethos behind her understated jewellery brand HERE. If you’d like to enquire about a specific product or discuss a bespoke commission please e-mail email@example.com
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