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Best Kept Secrets

Best Kept Secrets

With its history of alternative culture and a very creative student population, few British cities have as many hidden nooks to explore as Bristol. Whole neighbourhoods are crammed with tiny doors and crooked alleys, and there’s always a delicious meal or a funky music spot waiting where you least expect it. Join us on a trip through Bristol’s best secrets, some so closely-guarded that they’ll be news even to locals.
 
First, some of our favourite secrets spaces. Many will arrive in Bristol at Temple Meads station, but before you take the normal route towards the town centre, try heading out the back door – that’s where you’ll find The Goods Yard, a venue made of shipping containers. This pop-up venue is used for all different events and parties throughout the year, and sits next to our firm favourite bar and restaurant Yurt Lush, which offers fine delicacies from the comfort of three Mongolian yurts. If you feel up to some shopping after you’ve had your fill, a cornucopia of quirky objects await at Clifton Arcade, where 17 eclectic shops are set in a splendid Victorian shopping centre. There you’ll find everything from vintage clothes to kitsch décor to luxury soap.
 
If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, check out the amazing street art at Dean Lane Skatepark – this is the home of Banksy, after all! If you’d like to learn more about the world’s most famous street artist, check out the tours via Visit Bristol. Banksy’s anonymity and style earn him some street cred, but you can’t get more underground than Redcliffe Caves. This is the eerie network of caves under Bristol that host regular events from horror movie screenings to plays and raves. Wrap up warm and go check them out, if you dare.
 
When you’re hungry, you could check out The Ox, a subterranean cocktails and steak joint where your meat is locally sourced and grilled over a charcoal flame. But not all the city’s foodie secrets are tucked away – check out staple cafes Maximillions or Café Amore to find quality, well-priced grub with friendly staff and an utter lack of pretension.
 
Bristol wouldn’t be one of the country’s coolest cities without plenty of trendy watering holes, and you’re genuinely spoiled for choice in this department. If you’re feeling upmarket, try Her Majesty’s Secret Service, a cocktail bar marked out only by a single white flag. Inside you’ll find creative cocktails and sleek Bond-style décor. You could also give The Horts pub a try. Unknown to most, they recently installed a 26-seat cinema at the back of the bar, and often show films for free. For a truly secret experience, there’s Haus bar, a speakeasy tucked underneath an Indian restaurant at the top of Black Boy Hill. Their mojitos can’t be beat.
 
It’s amazing how some of these spots have remained hidden gems for so long. Take 20th Century Flicks, surely one of the only video stores to have survived the digital revolution. They’ve just moved to a larger venue off Christmas Steps, and will be happy to furnish you with their unbeatable cinematic knowledge. You can even hire out their amazing private cinema which is decorated like Twin Peaks’ notorious Red Room. And if your idea of the perfect afternoon, whiled away in secrecy, is buried in an enormous pile of old books, there’s nowhere for you but Beware of the Leopard Books. This central institution has everything you could ever read (and lots besides that you probably couldn’t), and yet still doesn’t flash up on the average Bristolian’s radar. Maybe that’s about to change – these spots can’t stay secret forever! 

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