0 Love It
Save it

The best pubs in Bristol

Our pick of Bristol's best boozers, from craft spots to traditional old drinking dens

© Chris Hoare

Bristol's pub scene is pretty much second to none, with a very impressive array of boozers ranging from hip young spots brewing their own beer to traditional old inns playing unwitting homage to yesteryear. And then there are those gastropubs serving food to rival the very best restaurants, the live music venues, the student favourites... yep, Bristol pubs really can match those of anywhere else in the country. Here's our pick of the very best.

The Cornubia

The Cornubia has been given a new lease of life since award-winning landlords Phil and Jakki took over in 2010. While the pub has been a fixture on Bristol’s real ale scene for decades, it’s taken the CAMRA award-winning duo to restore it to its former glory. The Cornubia should now be considered something of a hidden gem, in part due to its curious, off-the-beaten-track location.

Read more
Central Bristol

The Steam Crane

Before it was taken over and re-branded by experienced landlord Stephen Wallace – most famous for turning the Golden Guinea into one of Bristol’s best-loved establishments – the pub now known as The Steam Crane was one of Bedminster’s most notorious watering holes.  Since re-opening in early 2014, Wallace has turned around the venue’s fortunes, largely through a dedication to great drinks, and a tasty food menu.

Read more
Bedminster

The Bag Of Nails

The Bag Of Nails has long been regarded as one of Bristol’s best real ale establishments. It is, without doubt, also one of the city’s most eccentric pubs.  Much of this eccentricity stems from landlord Luke Daniels, a self-proclaimed “opinionite [sic], non-conformist and cat-fancier” whose dedication to real ale is notorious.

Read more
Central Bristol

The Star & Dove

Since landlords Leigh Pascoe, Timothy Denny and Matthew Duggan took over, the main focus of The Star & Dove has been its’ “historic dining rooms” restaurant. Certainly, the popular pub – based a stone’s throw from the bottom of Victoria Park, and close to Totterdown – has a reputation for offering great quality British food in laidback surroundings.

Read more
Knowle

The Old Stillage

While Redfield has become something of a desirable location in recent times – for first-time house buyers, at least – the neighbourhood’s pub scene has yet to catch up.  In a sea of weird local boozers, down-at-heel establishments and depressing chain pubs, The Old Stillage sticks out like a sore thumb. 

Read more
Easton

The Bell

Recommended

Long before Stokes Croft became the city’s most bohemian locale, The Bell was widely regarded as something of a Bristol institution. Tucked away on Hillgrove Street, just off the main Stokes Croft drag of bars, independent stores and kooky cafes, it has long served a multitude of purposes; a laidback meeting place for local artists, DJs and musicians, a low-key community pub, and a popular weekend pre-club boozer all rolled into one. 

Read more
Cotham

The White Bear

Recommended

When climbing up the frustratingly steep St Michael’s Hill, you’re unlikely to miss The White Bear at the summit; a life-size replica of the creature that gives the pub its name dominates the front wall at first-floor level. It’s a useful metaphor, because The White Bear can be as lively as its towering mascot – an unsurprising fact given that it’s owned by legendary local club promoter turned venue owner Julian Smith (a face on the Bristol scene for the last two decades). It’s at night, though, that the White Bear comes alive. Then, the pool table gets put away, the tequila flows and it becomes a party destination of choice. 

Read more
Cotham

The Albion

Recommended

Given the general exclusivity of the area, it’s surprising how few high class drinking establishments there are in Clifton Village. It’s not an area short on good quality pubs – there are numerous others in our list of Bristol’s best pubs, for starters – but The Albion just feels different. It’s aimed at a higher class of customer, something that becomes plainly obvious when you browse the list of trips and activities put on for patrons and regulars. Certainly, there are few other pubs in Bristol that organise fly-fishing and clay pigeon shooting trips. 

Read more
Clifton

The Cadbury

Recommended

For the assorted students, young professionals, party people and liberal locals that make up The Cadbury’s clientele, the pub has legendary status. For many, the weekend isn’t complete without a hungover, bleary-eyed trip to the pub for its regular Reggae ‘n’ Roasts Sunday session. As the name suggests, it’s an opportunity to tuck into one of the tastiest – not to mention cheapest – roasts in the city, while having your aching leads and head soothed by some of the best roots, dub and reggae around. 

Read more
St Pauls

The Greenbank

Recommended

The re-opening of the once popular Greenbank pub in Easton in early 2014 was good news for an area largely light on good quality community watering holes. The pub had been shut for a couple of years and there were rumours that the building was to be converted into flats. Thankfully, experienced publican James Savage – the man behind the acclaimed Zazou’s Kitchen range of eateries – decided to save it from the bulldozers. 

Read more
Easton
Show more

Comments

15 comments
Emma E
Emma E

Have a soft spot for quite a few of those... would also add in The Miners in Werburghs, Hillgrove and The Prince of Wales on G Road.

Ben H
Ben H

Great list, loads of my favs in here. Not sure what all the fuss is about below - seems like a good spread of places across the city to me. You guys need to get out more - maybe pick a pub off this list and go relax?

Chilli Y
Chilli Y

Really?

This is not a researched selection of the best pubs in Bristol it is a narrow selection chosen by a very restricted audience of pubs that you go to yourselves.Plot these pubs on a map and we could probably work out where in Montpelier your cool flat share is.

Ok, so you have chucked in a couple of other Bristol institutions to pretend that the list has some validity – really, when was the last time you went to the Hatchet or the Navy Vol?I bet you haven’t been in years.I don’t even think your choice of Stokescroft pubs is the best ones but have been picked on a cliquish basis.

I know that times are hard and money is tight for journals like Time Out, but creating lazy lists like this will only hasten your demise.

Sorry, your self-absorption has angered me, I have now vented and will slip off into the background again.Bye.

Edward G
Edward G

@Alexander J  I think  @Chilli Y has a point, stick a point in the map and none of those pubs are further than 2 miles from each other, apart from the the Albion.

No mention of anything south of the river, no mention of anything west of whiteladies or north of the Sportsman. It's a very off centre (geographically) list

Alexander J
Alexander J

@Chilli Y I think your self absorption is pretty ridiculous actually mate. Maybe people look for different things in pubs than you? You sound like the sort of prick who doesn't like any sort of fun after all.


The stokes croft selection is the best the area has to offer IMO, but you know other people may disagree.  Navy Vol is great these days too, its probably you who hasn't been by the sounds of it.


Bye.

Mark W
Mark W

No Golden Lion, no cigar.

Dave M
Dave M

I know Bristol pretty well and I know a lot of the pubs listed really well.  There's some glaring omissions (which I would say are better pubs than the majority listed above): Bag O' Nails, The Three Tuns, The Barley Mow, Small Bar, The Hare, Star and Dove, Old Duke, The Hillgrove, Highbury Vaults, Volunteer Tavern and The Duke of York

Alexander J
Alexander J

@Dave M Perhaps they should just list every pub in Bristol in alphabetical order eh?

jay d
jay d

Great list TimeOut. Definitely has many establishments listed that I like to frequent.

Dan, Charlotte, James have you ever considered that maybe your opinions on pubs are just WRONG?

Alexander J
Alexander J

Great list to be honest, some of the best pubs in Bristol on here. I imagine its hard to cater to everyone's taste, some people like awful old men pubs and 'real ale' places after all! 


I'd say Charlotte, Dan, James and Barrington are just a bit butt hurt their own pubs aren't on this list. They need to get a life or get their pub to market themselves a bit better so no one could possibly leave it out. 


Also Dan, I've heard of every pub on this list, maybe it you who needs to try out some different places?



Charlotte C
Charlotte C

I agree, this list has made me lose faith in Time Out recommendations! For instance, I live in Clifton and most locals will tell you that The Clifton is far superior to The Albion.

Dan P
Dan P

What a load of rubbish this is. I would not call this the top pubs in Bristol, far from. In fact I would say you emailed lots of pubs in Bristol and the first to get back to you got a mention. I guess this as I work in the industry and know that several bars got told they were in the list (probably better choices than some listed) and despite replying they did not get mentioned. Some of these pubs many would not of heard of or frequented. A few of the write ups are not accurate. Poor work Timeout!

James C
James C

Obviously not written by someone who is in or from Bristol

Barrington F
Barrington F

All these are mediocre compared to the Bag of Nails. I've been here 20 years and that is far and away the best pub I've been to in Bristol. Also, were it not for the outdoor seating area, the Ostrich would be among the worst pubs in Bristol - terrible food, drink and service. Even the seating area is pretty run down these days to be honest, I'd avoid. And if you think the Hen and Chicken is better than The Hare, I'm afraid you dont know North Street very well