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Hotel Highlights

  • Stylish design and decor
  • Top quality breakfasts and afternoon tea
  • Panoramic views of Bristol from its best side

Overview

Picturesquely set on the edge of the Clifton Downs park in Bristol, Number Thirty Eight hotel's stately Georgian exterior belies its sultry, stylish interiors and cool, contemporary art. A plant-dotted rooftop terrace looks out over the city, the common rooms are perfect for lounging in overstuffed leather chairs beside the fireplace and its breakfasts are renowned as among the best in Bristol.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking Number Thirty Eight with us:

A free swimming pass for the Lido (usually £20 a day for non members).

Facilities

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Number Thirty Eight hotel – Bristol – United Kingdom

Need To Know

Rooms

10.

Check–out

11am, but flexible. Earliest check-in, 3pm (check-in after 8pm can be arranged with notice).

Rates

Double rooms from $173.08 (£104), excluding tax at 20 per cent.

More details

Rates usually include full English breakfast.

At the hotel

Terrace, DVD library, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV; Roberts digital radio; a minibar; free tea, coffee and cookies; and REN toiletries.

Our favourite rooms

The West Loft Suite is the star at Number Thirty Eight, with its dark teal walls and a soak-worthy copper-toned bathtub for two (there’s also a powerful shower neatly tucked away in what at first glance appears to be a second wardrobe). The suite stretches the length of the townhouse, with views of Clifton Downs on one side and the multi-coloured city rooftops stretching into the distance on the other. The East Loft Suite has the same spacious layout and a more neutral palette.

Packing tips

Your camera. It doesn’t matter whether you prefer Brunel or Banksy: Bristol’s got plenty to photograph, and Number Thirty Eight’s ideally situated for exploring the city. There’s plenty to shoot in the hotel, too, from the choice antiques in the reception rooms to the modern art dotted around.

Also

As in many historic hotels, sound travels between floors: wearing heavy shoes in your room won’t endear you to your fellow guests.

Children

Over 12s only.

Food & Drink

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Number Thirty Eight hotel – Bristol – United Kingdom

Hotel Restaurant

None. Breakfast – Continental and full English, both made with the freshest local ingredients – is served in two elegant and airy reception lounges (or in the larger bedrooms).

Hotel Bar

The hotel doesn’t have a bar as such but guests are given an invitation to the very cool speakeasy-style Hausbar a few doors down.

Last orders

Breakfast is served 7.30am–9.30am on weekdays and 8am–10am at weekends; enjoy afternoon tea until 8pm.

Room service

Room service is available 8am–8pm; dine on a traditional cream tea and sip tea and coffee, soft drinks or cocktails.

Smith Insider

Dress code

Bristol’s a laid-back city, even in elegantly renovated merchant’s townhouses. Wear your best jeans and you’ll fit right in.

Top table

In summer, sip cocktails on the outdoor terrace, overlooking the rooftops of Clifton. When it’s colder, take afternoon tea in one of the two reception rooms.

Local Guide

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Number Thirty Eight hotel – Bristol – United Kingdom
Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Worth getting out of bed for

Isambard Kingdom Brunel designed the Clifton Suspension Bridge in 1831 – it’s still the posterboy of Bristolian icons more than 180 years later. Take a 700ft stroll across it over the Avon Gorge and into Somerset. Admire the city’s most gorgeous Georgian terrace, Royal York Crescent, at the end of Clifton Village; the village itself is a historic hillside neighbourhood full of upscale shopping and amazing Avon Gorge views. Explore the exhibitions, take in an independent film screening or enjoy a live dance or music performance at the Arnofolini, on Bristol’s waterfront. The centre also has one of the country’s best art bookshops (www.arnolfini.org.uk; +44 (0)1179 172300). The Royal West of England Academy on Queen’s Road (www.rwa.org.uk; +44 (0)1179 735129) is full of art and design treasures, ranging from works by YBA stars like Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst to drawing workshops and lectures on Banksy. Tour your way around Bristol by strolling from Banksy to Banksy; one of the most famous – and easy to find – works by the anonymous artist is the Banksy on Frogmore Street in the centre of town (www.visitbristol.co.uk/experience-bristol/banksy-in-bristol).

Local restaurants

Tuck in to fresh seafood at chef Mitch Tonks’ restaurant RockFish, on Whiteladies Road. The service is top class, the ingredients fresh and the clientele smart; it’s a short walk from Number Thirty Eight (www.rockfishgrill.co.uk; +44 (0)1179 737384). Cowshed is a carnivore’s dream: the on-site butcher prepares juicy steaks and more at this laid-back restaurant on Whiteladies Road; the knowledgeable staff are more than happy to chat with fellow meat lovers (www.thecowshedbristol.com; +44 (0)1179 933550). Have you ever enjoyed a delicious dinner while watching swimmers doing lengths in the underwater-lit pool below? Now’s your chance: Lido Restaurant, Spa & Pool, tucked away between attractive Georgian terraces, serves up some of the best dishes in Bristol, from breakfast to dinner – with afternoon tea and tapas in between (www.lidobristol.com; +44 (0)1179 339533). Flinty Red on Cotham Hill has both a menu that changes daily and a lengthy wine list. It’s an informal spot for dinner or drinks (www.flintyred.co.uk; +44 (0)1179 238755). The Clifton Sausage on Portland Street serves up the best of British cuisine (www.cliftonsausage.co.uk; +44 (0)1179 731192).

Local bars

Knock on the unmarked door of Hausbar on Upper Belgrave Road to gain access to this sophisticated drinking den. Berliner Aurelius Braunbarth has created an intimate, laid-back lounge stocked with premium spirits and knowledgeable mixologists (www.hausbar.co.uk; +44 (0)1179 466081). Enjoy a local ale or glass of wine at the Kings Arms on Whiteladies Road, one of Bristol’s better pubs (www.kingsarmsbristol.com; +44 (0)1179 735922).

+ Enlarge
Clifton cliffside

Number Thirty Eight

38 Upper Belgrave Road , Clifton , Bristol, Bristol, Avon BS8 2XN, United Kingdom

Bristol’s a very walkable city, and Number Thirty Eight’s location on Clifton Downs makes it a great base for exploring on foot. The town centre, waterfront, Clifton Village and famed Clifton Suspension Bridge are all within strolling distance.

Planes

Fly in to Bristol Airport, 10 miles (or about 25 minutes) away, which has direct flights from a host of European destinations (such as Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Vienna and Zurich) and various spots around the UK (www.bristolairport.co.uk).

Trains

The Brunel-designed Bristol Temple Meads, four miles from the hotel, is the nearest railway station. It’s served by First Great Western trains from London, Manchester, Cardiff and Birmingham.

Automobiles

There’s street parking in front of the hotel; to get there, head to Bristol then follow signs for the zoo – Number 38 is on the same street.

Reviews

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Number Thirty Eight hotel – Bristol – United Kingdom

Anonymous review

by Tim Chester , Writer and web editor at Rough Guides

I’m pretty sure Number Thirty Eight is run by ghosts. We certainly barely saw a living soul there. From the moment we arrived, lurching through a fitful snowstorm to find the place bolted, barricaded and guarded by a lone fellow guest puffing on a cigarette, to the moment our time was up, we pretty much had the place to ourselves. Sure, somebody emerged from a dark panelled door on the grou…
Read more

Number Thirty Eight

Anonymous review by Tim Chester, Writer and web editor

I’m pretty sure Number Thirty Eight is run by ghosts. We certainly barely saw a living soul there. From the moment we arrived, lurching through a fitful snowstorm to find the place bolted, barricaded and guarded by a lone fellow guest puffing on a cigarette, to the moment our time was up, we pretty much had the place to ourselves.

Sure, somebody emerged from a dark panelled door on the ground floor to pass us a key, and someone else materialised two days later to settle the minibar, but on the whole it was a house of whispers, faint creaks, and pervasive silence. This atmosphere of isolation in the centre of a big city was partly down to the time of year (halfway through January) and partly the intentional design of the hotel, which eschews an official reception, bar and other noisy communal trappings in favour of peace and privacy and a quite lounge/breakfast-room hybrid where the conversational volume is turned to murmur. It was like The Shining without the spooky twins or personality disorders.

Which was alright by Mrs Smith and me. As we explored the West Loft Suite, collapsing onto the sprawling sleigh bed and running a scalding bath in the copper-toned tub for two, we opened the bottle of room service red and toasted anonymity. Our quarters spanned one half of the top of the house, boasting huge sash windows with full length blinds that rose to reveal the snow-covered grassy expanse of the Downs on one side and Clifton’s hodge-podge multi-coloured houses on the other. Further deep blue panels enclosed a toilet and a separate shower with requisite dinner plate head, stuffed with Ren toiletries. Bedside tables were packing cases and a huge vintage chest sat at the foot of the bed. A Union Jack digital radio had been tuned to Jazz FM by a spectre prior to our arrival.

We were here with several aims: to splice that most monochrome of months in two, to escape the tedious talk of post-Christmas dryathalons surrounding us on social media, and to revisit the city I grew up in over a decade ago. I promised I’d go easy on the nostalgia. That was easier said than done. As with any town in which you spend your formative years, the streets were stamped with reminiscences and full of my own personal ghosts from the depths of my memory. Even a short walk to the alma mater, an imposing 16th-century pile that ‘looks like Hogwarts’ according to Mrs Smith, brought back visions of furtive first cigarettes, fumbled encounters in bushes, scrapes with the law and all those other teenage hoops laid before an impressionable teen.

Number Thirty Eight is perfectly positioned for exploring the best of Bristol in a morning. Twenty casual minutes on foot took us past Bristol Zoo (impressive as they go, but covered in exhaustible depth in my youth) to Brunel’s spectacular Clifton Suspension Bridge, built a century and a half ago and long-favoured as a spot to bid a permanent farewell to the world. A swift about turn led us away from sudden death to Clifton Village, home to the city’s most exclusive residences and best boutiques, for coffees and all manner of decadent delicacies at the Mall Deli.

As the tome on local history in our room pointed out with a typically local mix of respect and cynicism, Bristol is the victim of thousands of years of, shall we say, creative town planning, bombing raids and bureaucratic buggering about, and as a result has grown higgledy-piggledy on a hilly, unsuitable patch of Britain into a charming mess of alleyways, dead ends and incongruous architectural clashes. While nearby Bath is a compact, convenient, tourist-friendly postcard of a town, Bristol is a living, breathing fallible mess of a place and all the more charming for it.

The descent from Blackboy Hill to Whiteladies Road (named after pubs, not long-forgotten slave trading or racial profiling, apparently) and on to Park Street is a must. Britain’s flatlining high streets are nowhere to be seen here although the likes of HMV and Woolworths never really muscled in on it in the first place. Instead family businesses thrive after decades and new contenders – from the massively popular Cowshed steakhouse and butcher’s shop to the forthcoming River Cottage – are constantly upgrading Bristol’s status as a city worth your attention. Park Street, meanwhile, is a must for vintage threads and quirky accessories and of course Banksy’s famous Naked Man stencil.

That evening, after two obscenely large steaks and a couple of pints of local Bounders cider at the nearby Townhouse restaurant we retired to our room at the top of the house at top of the hill. Mrs Smith thought we might hear some of the infamous local, ahem ‘doggers’ on the Downs, but middle-aged grunts were thankfully absent from the bushes and our sleigh bed whisked us off into a blissful slumber.

The following morning, woken by the sun peering over the city’s ramshackle skyline and feasting on cake-like homemade bread and butter and a spectacular full English spirited to our table, it struck me that Bristol’s grown up as much as me over the last 10 years. Over two wet January days the city pulsed with life as locals, shoppers, tourists, musicians, artists, rowers and sailors flowed through its roads and river. Change has certainly marched through – the sparkly Cabot Circus shopping centre has supplanted the shabby Galleries mall where we used to bunk off school and try to (unsuccessfully) charm local girls – but is hasn’t trampled over the city’s soul. It’s a place to be proud of, and Number Thirty Eight is the perfect address from which to explore.

 

 

 

The Guestbook

Reviews of Number Thirty Eight from Smith members

Whenever you book a stay through us, we’ll invite you to comment when you get back. Read the Guestbook entries below to see what real-life Mr & Mrs Smiths have said about this hotel…

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I loved everything!

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

You know those places that are so nice you almost don't want to recommend them because you want them all to yourself? Yep – it's one of those. I stayed in the West Loft Suite, which is gorgeous (the bath is huge), and breakfast in the room was delicious, service was excellent, and we only saw another person when we were checking out. It's a really quiet, private hotel and we'll definitely be going again.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

All the staff were wonderful, the breakfasts were delicious and the rooms were very clean. We received a warm welcome from the manager. It is just perfect.

 

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The building is beautiful, and tastefully decorated. There's a calm ambience, and the views over Bristol are great. We had a fabulous breakfast, too.

Don’t expect

Our room was a bit cramped but it would be fine for a one or two night stay.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The rooms were a brilliant size, very luxurious. The staff was helpful and friendly and the breakfast was great quality.

Don’t expect

Parking was a little tricky when we arrived.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The room was faultless – every aspect was beautiful. We especially liked the giant bed, copper bath and stunning views over Bristol. It's possibly one of our favorite rooms ever! The breakfast was huge and lovely and served by a very attentive staff in a lovely breakfast room overlooking the Bristol Downs.

Don’t expect

We couldn't get through to the hotel on the phone on the day we arrived, which was a little frustrating.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on No

We loved

The view from the room was incredible and the style of the room and bathroom were great! And, the breakfast was huge.

Rating: 9/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

it was clean and beautifully decorated, and a good alternative to most dreary B and Bs. I enjoyed the very good breakfast.

Don’t expect

A free bottled water on arrival would be good.

Rating: 8/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

This hotel was fantastic. From the minute we stepped in and received a warm welcome to our check out, we couldn't fault it. The room was great with a very comfortable bed, lovely tasteful decor, gorgeous bathroom ensuite with a huge bath. I enjoyed the lovely little touches like the ginger biscuits to relax after a long journey. Breakfast was the best breakfast we have eaten in a hotel due to the sheer skill of the cooking: perfect eggs, bacon, lovely granola, pastries and fruit if you didn't fancy a cooked breakfast. The outdoor terrace is a lovely addition for balmy nights and the views from the room were outstanding – Bristol as far as the eye can see. The location's great – just a few metres from the beautiful downs and a 10–20-minute walk from Clifton and the centre. All of the staff we met were so friendly and helpful. We will definitely return and couldn't recommend it any more highly.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I liked the beautiful decor, friendly staff, fantastic breakfasts and incredible views overlooking town.

Don’t expect

It takes a good 20–30 minutes to walk to Clifton Village and/or the Lido.

Rating: 8/10 stars

SilverSmith

Stayed on

We loved

This was a well located hotel – very much near town and good eateries. It was peaceful and you were left to it. The staff was very polite and attentive when around. The general ambience was such that you felt at home.

Rating: 10/10 stars

SilverSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I liked the lovely atmosphere, very clean lovely rooms, good atention to detail, friendly staff and lovely breakfast.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

We loved that you could come go as you pleased without any fuss. The breakfast was wonderful. The suite was lovely, especially the bath.

Don’t expect

I would only have liked more lighting as it was hard to read in the room, more pillows and more breakfast tea as there were only two bags.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I enjoyed the luxury of my room and the very stylish breakfasts.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I liked the lovely room and beautiful views, and the friendly staff.

Rating: 9/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The hotel was smart, comfortable and clean.

Don’t expect

 Not a lot could be better.

Rating: 8/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The position, design, service, breakfast and general welcome and ambience of Number Thirty Eight are great.

Rating: 8/10 stars

SilverSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I liked the lovely decor and location in trendy Clifton, great views of the Clifton Downs or rooftops; comfortable clean stylish rooms and wonderful cooked breakfast. It's a great base to explore Bristol from and I highly recommend Bravas, a Spanish tapas restaurant in Cotham Hill, and Hausbar, which is literally a few doors away, for a proper cocktail bar experience (you need to arrive early though to bag a seat). All in all, highly recommendable and enjoyable.

Rating: 9/10 stars