Bristol sits on the River Avon in South West England and became famous for its sea links. In fact, the infamous pirate Blackbeard was born and bred in the city. So, with such strong seafaring traditions at its core, it’s no surprise that the regenerated Harbourside area, with its plethora of new bars and restaurants, is at the heart of the city.
The city is a short hop across the Severn Bridge to Wales. Excellent road and rail links mean that London, Birmingham, Cardiff and Southampton are all reachable within two hours.
Some £3billion of economic development and infrastructure projects are scheduled across the city region up to 2012. These include office, industrial, retail, leisure, culture, transport and education projects.
On a more quirky note, Bristol has one of the largest free-to-access Wi-Fi networks in the UK. A number of Wi-Fi transmitters known as StreetNet have been installed in the centre.
The population of the Bristol city -region is about one million and is projected to grow by more than 100,000 by 2026. Employers within the city region have access to a workforce of about 600,000 people living within one hour's travel from Bristol, with the average age of the population is 36.6.
Once famed for its shipping industry, the city’s thriving economy is now based on the aerospace, defence, engineering, media, creative and environmental industries, ICT and electronics, and financial services, as well as its four universities – the University of Bristol, the University of the West of England, the University of Bath and Bath Spa University.
Hospitality job opportunities
Over the last 10 years, Bristol's tourism sector has grown to such an extent that the value of this market now exceeds £750m, with more than 15,000 jobs dependent on the sector.
In the past decade, regeneration of the city has attracted a number of niche luxury hotel operators, including boutique hotel company Hotel du Vin & Bistro and local operator Clifton Hotels’ ultra-chic Berkeley hotel. Most of the other big hotel companies are represented, too.
Future plans include the £350million regeneration of Canons Marsh, due for completion in 2011, which will include cafes and restaurants. Also, proposals have been submitted for eateries at Wapping Wharf and a 176-room hotel at Broad Quay.
Quck hospitality stats:
- Leisure & tourism provided nearly 8% of employee jobs in Bristol in 2007
- Professional services accounted for almost 12%, wholesale and distribution accounted for 11% and retail accounted for just under 11% of businesses in Bristol in 2007.
- Tourism & leisure was fourth place at 10.6%
Hotel jobs and restaurant jobs accounted for nearly 4% of JCP notified vacancies in Bristol in September 2009
Bristol has always been a unique, slightly edgy city in which to live and, despite the vigorous development activity, that’s still true today. It’s also worth noting that Bristol was ranked as the UK’s most sustainable city in environmental charity Forum for the Future's Sustainable Cities Index 2008.
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*The Zed-Index! is the average home value in a given area based on current Zoopla.co.uk Estimates.
Travel and Commuting
Getting to and from Bristol is a cinch. Temple Meads Station in central Bristol and Parkway Station to the north of the city offer half-hourly services to London and Birmingham and are connected to most other UK cities.
Bristol International Airport now has scheduled services to 16 cities across the UK and Ireland, and 67 cities across Europe, as well as New York. Plans to increase the capacity of the airport and improve facilities were announced in 2008.
Getting around Bristol is easy, too. There are plenty of initiatives to encourage people to cycle around the city, but it’s the bus service network that gets most people from A to B. Firstbus, for instance, offers a range of season tickets including:
- Monthly tickets at £54.10 for zones one or two and £73.50 for zones one and two
- Annual tickets at £583 for zone one, £585 for zone two and £784 for zones one and two
For a more refreshing commute to work, it’s worth checking out the commuter ferry services. A commuter through-fare is £1.80.
Culture, tourism and nightlife
In the city centre, there are more restaurants than you can shake a wallet at. As befits its heritage as a sea port, Bristol is a melting pot of every type of world cuisine, from Turkish to Thai and from Portuguese to Afro-Caribbean – with all the usual suspects in between.
- The £500m cutting-edge retail centre Cabot Circus opened in 2008, attracting for instance Harvey Nichols’ swish fourth floor restaurant and Raymond Blanc’s Brasserie Blanc.
- Michelin-starred restaurant Casamia, in nearby Westbury on Trym (www.casamiarestaurant.co.uk)
- Ronnie’s in Thornbury, run by chef Ronnie Faulkner and named best British restaurant by the Good Food Guide in July 2009 (www.ronnies-restaurant.co.uk)
- The award winning Bordeaux Quay, an eco restaurant and cookery school with a gold rating from the Soil Association (www.bordeaux-quay.co.uk)
Eating and drinking
Whether you’re in love, looking for fun, or just looking to treat the family, there’s something for everyone in Bristol. For history-lovers, some of the oldest pubs in the country are still open for business. The Llandoger Trow in King Street was built in 1664, and it's where author Daniel Defoe met Alexander Selkirk, the inspiration for Robinson Crusoe.
More contemporary pubs and bars include:
The Living Room cocktail bar and restaurant, part of the nationwide chain
The Amoeba, a bohemian bar with a good choice of bottled beers
Bocobar gets good reviews and offers Addlestones Cider as well as an impressive wine list and good food
The club scene is as cool as it gets. In fact, Bristol has one of the two Syndicate Superclubs in the country. Other venues include the Green House, Panache and Oceana. It’s also got a great live music scene - bands such as Portishead and Massive Attack were spawned here.
Other cultural highlights:
- The Arnolfini contemporary arts museum
- SS Great Britain, the first passenger liner
- Clifton Suspension Bridge
- The Bristol Old Vic theatre company
- The annual Bristol International Balloon Fiesta
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