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10 PLACES TO VISIT FOR THE PERFECT WEEKEND IN BRISTOL

Suzi Dixon

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I'm a West country girl and grew up just 40 minutes from Bristol. Bristol has always been close to my heart. It has friendly, enthusiastic locals and a vibrant strip of bars and cafés along the Waterfront, by the River Avon. You can even take a boat taxi from Bristol Temple Meads station direct into the heart of the city - how civilised! Bristol has been revitalised in recent years, with the addition of the Cabot Circus shopping centre. It's also a hub for festivals in the spring and summer, most notably the world renowned Bristol Balloon Fiesta. What better time to visit? Here are some of my favourite places.'
Hotel du Vin - Bristol

Another top hotel for your weekend away is the Hotel du Vin. It's romantic and relaxed, with standard or deluxe rooms or five loft suites and an extensive wine list to help you unwind. Enjoy a pre-dinner drink in the Bistro or relax in the library, before dining on local produce. If shopping is your thing, you can easily walk from the hotel to Broadmead or Cabot Circus. Walking the other way, you can reach the river, @Bristol or a host of trendy bars in less than five-10 minutes.

The Kensington Arms

One of my favourite gastropubs of all time, The Kensington Arms is where discerning Bristolians go to watch the big sporting events, before dining on exquisite West Country produce. Hearty mains such as steak and kidney pie with Guinness gravy are washed down with real ale or fine wines. ‘The Kenny', as it is affectionately known, is also a popular spot for Sunday lunch so book in advance if you want to sample the mouth-watering menu, featuring roast sirloin of Dorset beef, roast loin of pork or even suckling pig.

Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill Bristol

I was lucky enough to attend the launch of this sizzling steakhouse and turned into a jelly when the broody chef signed my recipe book... not very professional, eh? I've been back several times since to sample the sensational steak. The restaurant is part of the Doubletree Cadbury House Hotel, out near Bristol airport, which has a spa, gorgeous grounds and popular gym. Back to the steakhouse and what stands out is the service. As well as impeccable waiters, the sommelier is very knowledgeable. On my last visit, he recommended ‘The Gourmet' Shiraz wine to go with the beef - a gorgeous Aussie red that was unforgettable (even after several glasses).

Royal West of England Academy

For a bit of peace and quiet on a Sunday afternoon, a couple of hours at the Royal West of England Academy is a real treat. It's located just above Bristol's ‘triangle' district, on the edge of Whiteladies Road, where you will also find BBC Bristol. It's also by Victoria Methodist Church and the Victoria Rooms. Current exhibits at the Academy include a Kerstin McGregor retrospective - predominantly oil paintings, all thought-provoking and full of life. Admission is free, from 9.30am midweek and Saturday, and from 11am on Sunday.

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