The Berkeley Square Hotel and Berkeley Suites are an elegant hideaway in one of the peaceful corners of Bristol, England.
In fact, Berkeley Square is so much admired that TV producers used Number 24 for one of Britain’s most famous costume dramas, The House of Eliott.
Today, Bristolians recommend Berkeley Square Hotel as one of the best boutique hotels their city has to offer. It was also Bristol’s first art hotel.
The Georgian houses, dating from 1790, have façades of beautiful Bath Stone, like so many of the area’s finest buildings.
The Berkeley Suites
The Berkeley Suites are in a separate building, just on the edge of the square. You walk up a handful of flagstone steps to reach a small red-brick Georgian crescent.
To your right, is a small, private garden for Berkeley Hotel guests. Behind the bright blue front door, the hotel has restored this historic building sensitively but simply.
Our suite, on the first floor, looked out onto the garden. The high sash windows flooded the white living room with light. Original features include the handsome mouldings on the cornices, while a chandelier completes the look.
Interior designers have chosen a mix of classic and contemporary furniture to compliment the space. Rather than having an ugly TV on the wall, you can enjoy a cool projector for big-screen action.
Meanwhile a cupboard opens up to reveal a cleverly-designed mini kitchen. This comes complete with a toaster, microwave, hob, sink, fridge and, most importantly, espresso machine.
The bedroom is similarly tasteful. As this is a highly-protected – Grade II listed – building, the hotel had a challenge when they wanted to install ensuite bathrooms. They solved it by putting the bathrooms behind a sheer glass wall. The result is dramatic, modern and yet sensitive to the building’s history. I particularly loved the original fireplace in the bathroom.
Naturally, you get all the contemporary luxuries you’d like. There’s an overhead rain shower, full-sized bath and Elemis cosmetics.
In the mini-bar, you can help yourself to complimentary wine, beer, soft drinks and spirits. And the hotel lays out a small fruit bowl and crisps and chocolate, in case you fancy a sneaky snack.
Back in the Berkeley Square Hotel
Guests in the suites can enjoy breakfast in the main hotel. It also offers an award-winning restaurant, private members’ lounge and cocktail bar. The hotel doesn’t have it’s own gym, but you get complimentary access to the Nuffield Health gym and swimming pool, just around the corner.
The hotel honors the city it’s part of. You’ll find a decanter of Bristol Cream Sherry in your bedroom. And our bookcase included art books by Bristol’s world-famous street artist, Banksy. Incidentally, it is rumored that Banksy attended the same school as me, around the same time I was there, at the bottom end of Park Street, just a few minutes walk from the Berkeley Square.
A home away from home to explore Bristol
As a boy who grew up in Bristol, I tend to underestimate what a great city it is to visit. But I can say Berkeley Suites are perfectly located to start your exploration.
In particular, the city’s outstanding Museum and Art Gallery is just across the road. It boasts a superb collection covering geology, Eastern art, local history and English delftware. The natural history section fascinated me as a child. The gallery includes Bristolian and international artists.
Park Street is a steep hill, running down from the hotel to the City Centre, lined with boutique shops and restaurant. At the bottom of it, you can visit the city’s cathedral or wander around the harbour from where sailors set out to discover the world and spread Bristol’s fame.
Just behind the hotel is a pretty park topped with Cabot Tower, celebrating the most famous of those voyages. John Cabot set out from Bristol to ‘discover’ Canada in 1497.
If you walk a little further, you’ll find superb views of the iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge which spectacularly spans a steep-sided gorge.
Bristol’s thriving LGBTI community
Bristol is a young, vibrant city, home to many students and a cool, dynamic music and arts scene.
Of course, the highlight of the LGBTI year is Bristol Pride, of which Gay Star News is a partner.
Pride-goers from around South West England and beyond join the march and celebration by the picturesque harbor. The main Pride day this year (2018) is 14 July, but the festival will run from 2 to 15 July.
Year round, The Berkeley Suites are walking distance to some of the most popular LGBTI bars, on Frogmore Street. These include the OMG Bar and Club and the Queenshilling, a popular scene stalwart.
Not much further, you’ll find the historic Old Market area. Check out the Old Market Tavern and the Bristol Bear Bar.
You can find out more about the scene on the Visit Bristol site. The site will also guide you around the city, it’s attractions, food, drink and many festivals and events.
Stay at the Berkeley Suites
The Berkeley Suites offer five-star luxury but with the sense you are staying in a graceful private home.
Check out the Clifton Hotels site to book a room in the main hotel or the suites.