Bristol is a vibrant city full of culture and history. There are plenty of hotels and unique venues available for all kinds of meetings and events. Access to Bristol is also very good, with great rail and road connections and a nearby airport, too. So is it as good as it appears on paper? We sent our Andrew Cox and Tim Richardson to find out.
“Our reconnaissance trip involved an overnight stay at The Bristol Hotel and a VIP trip to the Ashton Gate Stadium, which made for two very different but equally impressive experiences.
The Bristol Hotel is one of the Doyle Collection hotels, a family-owned group of just eight luxury hotels located in prime city spots. The setting for The Bristol couldn’t be better, right by the old docks with an NCP car park next door (which is free to use if you’re staying in the hotel) and just a short walk from the city centre and its many cultural attractions.
We started to relax from the moment we arrived. The reception area is well presented, with pieces of unique local art on the walls that had been selected by the owners themselves. The staff were very attentive and our rooms were lovely, spacious and comfortable and offering all of the little touches that you would hope to find in a hotel of this calibre. Our rooms had views over the harbour, which looked quite magical at night.
Back downstairs we met up with our hosts Louise (from The Bristol) and Amy (from Ashton Gate) and were taken on a tour of Bristol’s famous King Street. This 17th century street in the city centre is named after King Charles II and packed with stunning Grade II Listed Buildings that are now being used as pubs, restaurants and offices along with the Theatre Royal, home of the Bristol Old Vic Theatre Company.
Having worked up an appetite we returned to the hotel for a simply delicious three course meal, which we selected from a very varied menu that included a high proportion of locally sourced produce.
The next morning, after breakfast, we were taken on an excursion around the Bristol Harbour on a Bristol Packet Boat Trip. As we navigated our way through the central areas of Bristol the tour guide kept pace with a lively talk on the history and culture of the city.
We then headed south of the River Avon to the 27,000 capacity Ashton Gate Stadium, the home of both Bristol City FC and Bristol Rugby, which has recently undergone a £45million refurbishment to bring it into line with other modern stadia. We had heard that Ashton Gate is now the largest conference and events venue in the South West of England and a quick tour of the facilities confirmed they must be right. It really is a fantastic space, with many meetings rooms available, some of which overlook the pitch. The largest is simply massive and can comfortably fit 1,000 delegates. The parking facilities are excellent and the choice of catering options seems very good, too. Our lunch was delicious and, considering that they were catering for over 1,000 people on the day, the service was extraordinarily good, so the teams responsible are clearly experienced and organised. Our VIP day included tickets to the Bristol City v Newcastle United game, which was a real treat for two confirmed football fans.
Bristol is certainly a city with plenty to entertain you, so if you organised a meeting here your delegates would not be bored during any downtime.
The Bristol Hotel has much to recommend it as a meetings venue as much as a hotel. It has 10 meeting spaces available to accommodate small groups up to larger parties, making it ideal for events such as corporate/gala dinner dances, staff parties, Annual General Meetings and conferences requiring breakout rooms and other supplementary space. The Ashton Gate Stadium, on the other hand, would be perfectly suitable for most types of events but the acres of available space make it the natural choice for really large affairs such as sales conferences and exhibitions.”