All charcoal tones and herringbone floors, Avon Gorge by Hotel du Vin feels like a cosy cocoon as soon as you step into the lobby. That’s not to say it’s dark and dingy: a grand chandelier casts a warm glow over the Parisian-chic interiors – the result of a huge £16 million revamp when the hotel came under the Malmaison Hotel du Vin umbrella in the spring of 2018. Some of the discoveries unearthed during the renovation included the steam pumps for the former spa (now the location of private dining suites), an original marble staircase and stunning stained-glass windows.
The moody hues continue through the hotel, streaming along creaky, lamp-lit corridors to the guestrooms, accented here with framed portraits, dark wood furniture and strips of monochrome floral wallpaper. A splash of colour comes in the form of red velvet chairs and blush-pink headboards, edging huge beds hidden beneath a cloud of marshmallow-soft duvets and goose feather and down pillows – the highlight of the rooms, which, along with the dark walls and curtains, are conducive to a great night’s sleep.
Another standout feature: the glorious vistas of the Avon Gorge stretching for miles, with a glimpse of the Clifton Suspension Bridge – views of which are best from the suites; some also feature freestanding roll-top baths strategically placed by windows. Other rooms overlook the pretty Georgian crescents of Clifton Village.
Bathrooms are white tiled, with bursts of teal and hexagon-patterned floors, along with large powerful showers and L’Occitane products. The attention to detail shines through in the small luxury touches: fluffy towels, oversized bathrobes, Nespresso coffee machines, soy milk as well as dairy. Along with the bedrooms, the major focus of the refurbishment was the restaurant, Goram & Vincent, which is causing a stir on the Bristol dining scene. With black-and-white wall prints and sleek leather booths, the restaurant is a stylish spot, but it’s the views that steal the limelight: the bridge glittering like a diamond necklace at dusk.
Diners gain a front-row seat to the culinary action in the open kitchen, where coal-fired grills and a smoker transform the finest cuts into a menu of tender steaks and grilled fish. Standouts include a delicate slow-cooked ham hock terrine with a tangy pineapple pickle, followed by whole sea bass en papiloteinfused with fennel, and topped with clams, tomato and samphire. There’s an oyster menu, too.
It’s easy to see why the place hums with activity, as hotel guests rub shoulders with locals keen to see if the place lives up to the hype – spoiler: it does. Breakfast is also served here, with a Country Table piled high with flaky pastries, banana bread, brioche, yoghurts, seasonal fruits and freshly squeezed juices. Alternatively, pick from the menu for cooked-to-order omelettes and any-which-way eggs – poached, with avocado on Altamura toast and chilli flake-dusted tomato salsa is as tasty as it is artfully presented.
Elsewhere, the White Lion bar is an industrial-style haunt that’s particularly popular in the summer for its iconic terrace. The latest addition is a new lounge-bar, decked out with more sumptuous interiors – rich plum tones, fireplace, butter-yellow velveteen seats and long leather banquettes. And if you want to explore further afield, you’re in no better place for food and drink options. Clifton Village is an exclusive enclave of quirky boutiques, antique stores, bookshops and artisan cafes, interspersed with watering holes and restaurants to refuel visitors.
You’re a short hop from Wallfish Bistro, which serves classic British dishes drawing upon fare from the West Country larder, the Giggling Squid that’s famed for its Thai tapas, and Fishers Restaurant for excellent fish and seafood. The city centre is an easy half-hour walk away, while the M Shed is a 30-minute amble away – mostly scenic along the river Avon – with detours to iconic Banksy street art along the way. You are in Bristol, after all.
Prices start from £110, with extra beds available in every room and dog-friendly options on offer. For more information, visit www.hotelduvin.com.
Photos Ki Price, Emulsion.