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The Gay Bristol Guide (United Kingdom 🇬🇧)

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The Gay Bristol Guide (United Kingdom 🇬🇧)

Table of Contents

  1. Intro: Welcome to Gay Bristol 🌆
  2. Gay Map of Bristol 🗺️
  3. Gayborhoods in Bristol 🏘️
  4. What Kind of Gay Accommodations in Bristol are There? 🏠
  5. Gay Nightlife in Bristol 🥂
  6. Best Restaurants in Bristol 🍽️
  7. What to See in Bristol and Tours of Bristol 🏛️
  8. Shopping in Bristol 🛍️
  9. Gay Events in Bristol and Gay Festivals Near Bristol 🎉
  10. Day Trips from Bristol 🚗
  11. TL;DR: Plan Your Bristol Trip (Logistics) 🛫
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Please help us improve this guide 💖: Our gay guides undergo regular updates to ensure that all listed establishments are current, popular, and, most importantly, safe. The recommendations and descriptions provided within this guide stem from personal experiences and/or reports. We welcome any input regarding new venues or updates to existing ones included in the guide. Please feel free to reach out to us by email with your suggestions or updates.

1. Intro: Welcome to Gay Bristol 🌆

Welcome to the quirky and vibrant city of Bristol, United Kingdom, also known as "Brizzle" to the locals, where diversity, inclusivity, and creativity thrive around every corner. If you're part of the gay community or an ally seeking an unforgettable experience, Bristol has much to offer. From its buzzing nightlife to its rich cultural tapestry, this city welcomes all with open arms.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll dive into the Bristol gay scene, uncovering the best nightlife hotspots, community events, restaurants, and inclusive spaces that make this city a beacon of acceptance and celebration. Whether you're a local resident or a visitor planning your next adventure, let's explore Bristol through a colorful and inclusive lens.

We spent a little over two months in Bristol and besides the painfully steep hills where we got to train our "Bristol booty 🍑", we fell in love with the place - from the ease of getting around, to the creative spaces, to the kindness of the people, to the fresh sea-touched air, to the proximity to beautiful places like Bath, Bristol grabbed our hearts much faster than London could (even though we have a complicated crush on London, too).

colorful Bristol houses


2. Gay Map of Bristol 🗺️


3. Gayborhoods in Bristol 🏘️

Old Market

Nestled in the heart of Bristol city centre, Old Market is a lively and eclectic neighborhood that is probably the gayest of them all. You'll find an array of LGBTQ+-owned businesses, trendy cafés, and art galleries that cater to the queer community. The annual Bristol Pride festival is a highlight, bringing together people from all walks of life to celebrate love and equality.

Stokes Croft

Known for its Bohemian vibe and street art scene, Stokes Croft is another fantastic neighborhood for LGBTQ+ individuals. The area is home to numerous queer-friendly bars, clubs, and performance spaces, making it a hub for the local LGBTQ+ community. Don't miss the chance to explore the colorful murals and quirky boutiques that line the streets.

Montpelier

Montpelier exudes a laid-back charm that appeals to LGBTQ+ residents and visitors alike. This neighborhood is renowned for its inclusive atmosphere and strong sense of community. You'll find a mix of independent shops, cozy pubs, and welcoming cafés where you can relax and connect with like-minded individuals. Montpelier truly embodies the spirit of acceptance and unity.

Bedminster

Undoubtedly a place that has seen its fair share of gentrification in recent years, "Bemmie" takes your standard British high street, throw in a bunch of eclectic, hipster markets and bars on it, tags some graffiti and street art to give it some color, and there you have it. Your creative juices 💦 will start to flow walking down North or East Street.

bemmie Bemmie! A hipster gay paradise


4. What Kind of Gay Accommodations in Bristol are There? 🏠

You will find a smorgasbord of gay-friendly places to stay in Bristol.

  • Artists Residence - super trendy boutique hotel with a phenomenal restaurant and bar downstairs. The vibes are top-notch!

  • The Bristol Hotel - located in the heart of the city, right next to Bristol's sexy harbor, this hotel is known for its welcoming atmosphere to all guests, including LGBTQ individuals.

  • Clayton Hotel Bristol City - offers a vibrant and friendly environment, ensuring all guests feel accepted and respected.

  • Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel - centrally situated and featuring works and design from Bristol's independent art scene.

  • Number 38 Clifton - luxurious accommodation located in Clifton (by the suspension bridge); the perfect place if you're feeling a bit fancy.

  • Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel - the center of it all and right next to the Bristol cathedral, this Victorian-style hotel is opulence at its finest.

Bristol marriott royal hotel Bristol Marriott showing its true colors!

Sometimes hotels are not the best option if you are visiting for a longer time or would like a more local experience. In that case, try out:

  • Misterbnb: This online marketplace and hospitality service allows you to rent short-term lodging in residential properties, with the aim of providing safe and welcoming spaces for gay male travelers.

  • Quouch: A queer couch-surfing alternative, this is a start-up created by one of my old students! You'll find some wonderful like-minded people on this app.

  • House sitting: Another unique way of experiencing Bristol (and experience FREE accommodations), is by doing house sitting. You get accommodations in exchange for watching a home and generally their dogs and cats. It is more responsibility, and it takes a bit of time to get your first sit (plus a membership fee), but we have stayed 2 months in Bristol rent-free. We love to use TrustedHousesitters as they are based in the UK and therefore have a ton of Bristol and nearby-Bristol offerings. If you want to sign up on the site as a sitter, use the code 12TRUST to get 12% off a year membership. If you also put your email in on our site, you will get a guide on How To Get Your First House Sit.


5. Gay Nightlife in Bristol 🥂

The Bristol scene offers a dynamic nightlife for gay men that caters to diverse tastes and preferences. It is a much calmer, smaller scene than bigger cities like London and Berlin, but it is that intimacy and friendliness which makes it such a special place to go out.

The Best Gay Bars and The Best Gay Clubs in Bristol

From cozy cocktail bars to energetic dance clubs, Bristol has something for everyone. While you don't have a lot of choices, but they are a good time.

  • OMG - Located conveniently off of Park Street on Frogmore Street in the city center, OMG stands out as one of the popular scene bars known for its pulsating music and welcoming atmosphere.

  • The QueenShilling - Literally across the street from OMG on Frogmore Street, this place has a little special place in my heart, as it was the first gay night out we had in Bristol. It offers the campiest of music, that we all secretly love. Also, if you're in the mood for a drag show, The QueenShilling is a must-visit venue where you can enjoy fabulous performances, a mixed crowd, and a great night.

  • Bristol Bear Bar (Bespoke Bear Bar) - We stumbled in this Old Market gay village icon on West Street by accident on a latex/rubber night 🤣. Aside from that, they hold cabaret nights and more, all packed into a small little pub exclusively for gay men. Other bars in the Old Market Street area include The Old Market Tavern and The Old Castle Green.

  • Seamus O'Donnell's - A gay bar cum Irish pub in the center of it all, Seamus O'Donnell's may be most well-known for their FriGAY drag nights. Nice vibe with nice people and an icon of the Bristol gay scene.

For less regular parties (especially for techno lovers), check out Headfirst Bristol, as they tend to have a fabulous queer party selection and will list more events around Bristol Pride.

Us at the QueenShilling in Bristol Probably belting out Taylor Swift at 1:30 in the morning at The QueenShilling

BBB Bristol Bear Bar and two bears

Frigay at Seamus O'Donnell's Seamus O'Donnell's in the middle of FriGAY drag roast

There are a few more gay bars mentioned here, that we have yet to make it to!

Other Noteworthy Bars in Bristol

While there aren't an overwhelming amount of gay bars and clubs in Bristol, there are plenty of other wonderful Bristol bars and clubs to check out, for their memorable and creative atmosphere.

  • The Hillgrove Porter Stores - A very random pub that combines the UK's passion for drinking with... Japanese food. Yes that is right, you can have an authentic okonomiyaki, while sipping a Bristol-style cider.

hillgrove porter stores

Happily full after our Japanese-style fried chicken and IPAs

  • Tobacco Factory - Bristol is known for its revitalization efforts, and the Tobacco Factory is no exception to this. Once literally a tobacco factory, it is now a theater, but also a bar, but also a creative space.

Tobacco factory

  • Canteen - Another fabulous all-purpose space. It is a restaurant, but also a bar with live jazz music some nights, and on Saturday nights, a club. The music is a bit house-oriented on Saturday night, and it is a vibe!

  • The LANES, Bristol - Okay, this place is utter gold and screams 'alternative forms of entertainment' any time of the day or night! The main purpose of The LANES is its bowling alleys, but they also have a karaoke room you can rent out by the hour with a truly amazing system. We love getting our Japanese-style karaoke rooms in the middle of Bristol, United Kingdom.

Lanes Bristol karaoke Probably mid-way into singing, I'm Coming Out for our friend Josh's coming out party

  • Little Martha Brewing Company - All the cool places are under railway arches, and this place is no exception. They have some wonderful craft brews on the menu. I particularly loved the sours!

Little Martha brewing company

  • Left Handed Giant - Located right on the river, this three-story mega craft brewery is filled with all kinds of fun, including billiards and darts. The pizzas are lush, too!

Left Handed Giant


6. Best Restaurants in Bristol & Best Cafés in Bristol 🍽️

When it comes to dining in Bristol, it is a massive foodie city, thanks to the diversity of its people. You will find smashing restaurants around every corner. My recommendation is that you should go ahead and book ahead, as it seems to be that type of city where restaurants fill up! Girl, you better book.

  • The Spotted Cow - Puts on a mean Sunday Roast and especially good vibes during summer weather when you can sit outside on the back terrace.

  • The Boot Factory - Located in the Artist Residence hotel, this place is delectable! Try the Moules marinière and the alcohol-free beers are actually good!

Moules marinière at The Boot Factory Seriously banging Moules marinière at The Boot Factory

  • Nadu - A trendy take on Sri Lankan and South Indian food, this place is just mouthwatering! Make sure to get a massive dosa for the entire table.

nadu facade

  • Milk Bun - Locally-sourced, fine ingredients for one of the most delicious burgers out there. Located in Clifton, but has one of the best burgers of any district in any city.

  • Pieminister - Taking the British pie to the next level. I got the spinach feta pie with tzatziki to try to be a little healthier, and I don't think I missed out. Also has some great beers on tap!

Pieminister pie Healthy-ish, but damn delicious pies a Pieminister

  • Pizza On The Park - We came here by accident when a competitor, Pizzarova, was overcrowded, and we are super glad we did. The pizza was Neapolitan style (confirmed by Fabio), and some with a Westernized-flair. Try the carnitas style pizza for some banging flavor combinations.

Pizza on the park Orgasmic flavors at Pizza on the Park. The carnitas one in the bottom-right corner was absolutely tantalizing

  • BANK, Bristol - A restaurant that specializes in contemporary fire cooking. Their menus change regularly with the season and ingredients, so be prepared to try something new every time you go there.

  • BOKMAN - A little Korean gem in the heart of Clifton that also offers classes, like kimchi class!

  • The Old Market Assembly - The Old Market Assembly is set inside an old bank! Excellent food, vibes and right near some Old Market gay bars.

Food Markets

For specific food markets in Bristol, check out this page. We loved St. Nicholas' Market ❤️.

Cafés and Hangout Spots

When it's time to unwind and catch up with friends, Bristol's cafés and hangout spots offer the perfect setting for relaxation and connection. Popular spots like the Bristol Loaf and Society Café and Tin Can Coffee are frequented by the LGBTQ+ community for their cozy ambiance and friendly service. These places provide a comfortable space to enjoy a cup of coffee, indulge in sweet treats, and engage in conversations with like-minded individuals.


7. What to See in Bristol and Tours of Bristol 🏛️

Walk up to Clifton Bridge, have a drink on the terrace at the White Lion

If you have ever seen photos of Bristol, this is the most famous site in Bristol hands-down. The bridge took 30 years to build by the famous civil engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel (that name is just everything), but it was a marvel for its time. I recommend walking up to it via Wellington Terrace, going over the bridge, coming back over, observing it from a different angle from the Clifton Observatory, and then when you are on your way down, head to the White Lion and have a drink out on the terrace overlooking the bridge once again. It is truly a transfixing site, and it never gets old. If you are in Bristol in the summer, you will certainly need to book a table at the White Lion. When you are done, have a walk through Clifton town as there are many nice restaurants, pubs and shops.

Wellington Terrace walk The walk-up to Clifton Bridge on Wellington Terrace

Clifton bridge view

Watch a film at the Watershed and walk around the Harbourside

It is not just a cinema, but also a talent incubator as well as a restaurant and a bar! To top it all off, it is basically made for the LGBT community and puts on some of the greatest mainstream and independent films in LGBTQ+ cinema. We watched one of our favorite gay films of all time there, All of Us Strangers. The Watershed is located right in the center of the neighborhood Harbourside, so have a stroll around there before and after, and you will wonder at times if you are actually in Amsterdam or Hamburg instead.

The watershed Bristol bar We can never refuse, a post-trippy film drink, especially when it is in the same venue. 👏 Watershed

harbourside Bristol

Do a Bristol street art tour

Did you know that the all-time famous, secretive Banksy comes from Bristol? But it isn't just Banksy street art that fills Bristol's buildings. Take a street art tour to see what the sexy art that is an emblem of Bristol is all about!

Street art in Bristol

Check out some of Bristol's Exhibitions

Bristol is massively arty and creative and there are no shortage of exhibitions to keep you entertained. M Shed is in an industrial part of Bristol and is a free museum that gives you the low-down and history of Bristol. My one complaint is that there is no natural flow to it, but you will learn a lot about Bristol's (slightly dark) history and modern context. Another exhibition that surpasses any expectations is Wake The Tiger, an immersive art exhibition, where you and your friends will wind your way through installations and experience totally different things.

Exterior of M Shed Bristol

Head to the Arnos Vale Cemetery and the Steepest Street in the UK

For a unique Bristol experience (albeit morbid), check out the Arnos Vale Cemetery, which has stones dating back to the Victorian era and which nature has ravenously taken over. Since you are already in the same area, head to the Steepest Street in the UK afterward, Vale Street.

arnos vale cemetery Arnos Vale Cemetery


8. Shopping in Bristol 🛍️

Bristol offers a diverse and vibrant shopping scene, catering to a wide range of tastes and preferences. Whether you're looking for unique boutiques, vintage finds, or high-end designer brands, you'll find it all within the city's charming streets and bustling markets.

Cabot Circus

Located in the heart of Bristol, Cabot Circus is a premier shopping destination featuring over 90 stores, including popular fashion brands, homeware retailers, and beauty outlets. From high-street favorites like H&M and Zara to luxury labels such as Harvey Nichols and Hugo Boss, Cabot Circus offers something for every shopper. After browsing the shops, you can refuel at one of the many restaurants and cafés located within the complex.

St. Nicholas Market

For a more eclectic shopping experience, head to St. Nicholas Market, a historic market located in the Old City area of Bristol. Here, you'll find a diverse array of stalls selling everything from locally-produced food and artisanal crafts to vintage clothing and unique gifts. Don't miss the weekly farmers' market on Wednesdays, offering fresh produce from local farmers and producers.

Gloucester Road

Known as Bristol's independent shopping quarter, Gloucester Road is lined with a plethora of quirky boutiques, vintage stores, and independent retailers. Whether you're hunting for vintage fashion, handmade jewelry, or one-of-a-kind artwork, you're sure to find hidden gems along this bustling street. Take your time exploring the eclectic mix of shops and cafés that give Gloucester Road its unique charm.

Clifton Village

For a more upscale shopping experience, venture to Clifton Village, an elegant neighborhood renowned for its Georgian architecture and leafy streets. Here, you'll find a selection of boutique shops, upscale galleries, and designer boutiques offering luxury fashion, and gifts. After a day of shopping, unwind with a leisurely stroll through the picturesque Clifton Village and soak in its sophisticated ambiance.

Park Street

Park Street is another popular shopping destination in Bristol, known for its vibrant mix of independent shops, trendy cafés, and lively street performers. Explore the eclectic array of stores selling everything from vintage clothing and vinyl records to contemporary artwork and handmade crafts. With its lively atmosphere and unique offerings, Park Street is a must-visit for any shopper looking for something a little out of the ordinary.

Whether you're searching for the latest fashion trends, artisanal goods, or vintage treasures, Bristol offers a shopping experience like no other. So grab your wallet and get ready to explore the city's diverse retail landscape!


9. Gay Events in Bristol and Gay Festivals Near Bristol 🎉

Throughout the year, Bristol hosts a variety of LGBTQ+ events and festivals that celebrate diversity and inclusivity. Bristol Pride is a prominent annual event and one of the most famous in Europe that brings the community together through parades, live music, and empowering activities including the Queer Vision Film Festival.

More regularly, experience the joy of Drag Karaoke at OMG club or dance the night away at Poundemonium, both offering vibrant entertainment and a sense of belonging. Don't miss Out of The Wardrobe ft Jayde Adams & Friends at The Wardrobe Theatre for a night of comedy and camaraderie.

Make sure to check out Head First or the Visit Bristol site for more impromptu events that are happening.


10. Day Trips from Bristol 🚗

Bristol is located in a pretty sexy area of the UK because it is well-connected, and it is your gateway to exploring the Western UK, including Cornwall and Wales.

Bath

We have spent a few afternoons in Bath and a few hours is always just enough for us! It is the cleaner, posher, prettier sister of Bristol and only ~10-20 minutes away by train from Bristol Temple Meads. Make sure to buy a round-trip from Bristol Temple Meads as it is almost the same trip as a one way!

Some must-do Bath day trip things:

  • Check out the Royal Crescent

  • Head to the Thermae Bath Spa (it is a bit touristy but a nice experience)

  • Have a high tea

  • Head to the Hall & Woodhouse for terrace views of Bath and a delicious baked Camembert

the royal crescent Anyone need us to look after their Royal Crescent homes?

Gay street bath Bath was made for the gays

Us in the Hall & Woodhouse

Cardiff & Wales

Bristol is a direct 45-50 minute train journey from Cardiff and is your gateway to the rest of Wales, a country of the United Kingdom with a beautiful coast, bucolic green fields, and a hell of a lot of castles.

Just the city has a lot going on including the famous Cardiff Castle, but if you can, try to explore the rest of the country.

Sexy Cardiff Castle Cardiff Castle


11. TL;DR: Plan Your Bristol Trip (Logistics) ✈️

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Bristol is during the spring and summer months, when the weather is warmer and the city is at its most vibrant. We happened to come during the height of Winter and while it rained a lot, there were still plenty of times when the sun peeked through. Either way, you must always be prepared to be welcomed with rain at any time of the day during any season, though.

Visa Information

  • EU, EEA, or Swiss Citizen: (Ehemm, f**** Brexit) Now you can stay a maximum of 6 months in the UK on tourism purposes

  • USA: You can stay a maximum of 6 months in the UK on tourism purposes

  • For other countries, take a look at iVisa.

Getting There

  • By air: Bristol is served by Bristol Airport. Take a look at flights today!. From many Western European countries, the prices can be well cheap! Once you land in Bristol you can take the Airport Flyer, which will take you to the center.

  • By train: Bristol is well-connected by train with the rest of the UK and Europe. To get from mainland Europe to Bristol, the Eurostar will get you there to London from which you can take another direct train. Check out trains.

  • By bus: The city is also well-connected by bus with the rest of the UK! This is how we got from London to here and sometimes the one-way tickets are only a single pound. Take a look at Flixbus or Omio to see your options.

Internet and Data in Bristol 🛜

The latest alternative that we have been using when travelling is eSIMs. We use Airalo religiously. Through them, you can get an e-SIM that has coverage for most countries in Europe for much cheaper than roaming. Just make sure to research whether your phone is e-SIM compatible before buying an e-SIM. If you go this way, buy it before your trip and make sure you set it up beforehand as well (and turn off your normal SIM before connecting to data).

Health and Safety

Bristol is a very safe city, although of course it has its crimes. However, it is not in the rank of the 10 most violent UK cities, so you should be fine. As with every place, practice vigilance.

For LGBTQ+ travelers, Bristol is one of the safest places to express yourself.

The healthcare system in the UK is primarily provided by the National Health Service (NHS), which offers free or low-cost healthcare to all residents, including visitors.

Nevertheless, make sure you get your travel medical insurance!

Getting Around

🚌/🚇

Bristol is served by buses as its main form of transportation, and it is very well-connected. There is a flat fare of £2 to go anywhere in the city, and you can use contactless payment, just like in London.

🚴‍♀️

I always prefer the more direct means of bikes, e-bikes, and scooters and fortunately TIER began rolling out in 2023. Fabio and I bought a monthly 300-minute pass for £30, and it has become our main form of getting around. Definitely exercise caution, though, as the hills in Bristol can be mega steep!

🚕

Bristol has standard taxi apps like Uber and Bolt.

Currency

The currency in the UK is the British Pound (£). You will rarely need cash with you around the city. In 2024, all I have used it for was to get a haircut and to tip on walking tours.

Tipping Culture

Tipping is not compulsory in the UK, but it's customary to leave a 10-15% tip in restaurants if you're happy with the service.

Other London Things and Tips 😼

  • Power Plugs - Type G: The large and clunky one - Do yourself a favor and pick up a universal converter beforehand.

  • Getting around the city is a much smaller task than getting around a city like London. I find that door-to-door, I am spending no more than 30 minutes.

  • You can drink outside in Bristol, but do not drink on buses.


And that is it (well not really, there are tons more we could have written about 🤣). Bristol has stolen our hearts, and we hope it does for you, too! Let us know what your favorite spots in Bristol are.

Bristol rainbow Bristol's made for the gays!


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