Bristol Life and Travel Tips
(Bristol, England, UK)
Bristol is a wonderful city to visit at any time of the year and the city does not really have an 'off-season', being busy throughout the year. Even in the coldest winter, Bristol remains popular and people flock to this city to enjoy the Christmas festivities, spectacular decorations and to do their Christmas shopping in the vast shopping precinct.
The quietest time in Bristol is from January to mid-March and this is probably the only time when hotels are likely to reduce their prices, in an attempt to attract more tourists to Bristol.
Tourism and Tourist Information
There are a number of tourist information offices and outlets throughout Bristol and these provide useful brochures, maps, opening hours, directions and general listings. The main tourist information office in Bristol is situated in the centre of the At Bristol complex, on the harbourside.
Bristol Tourist Information Centre
Address: The Annexe, Wildscreen Walk, Harbourside, Bristol, BS1 5DB, England
Tel: +44 (0)117 926 0767
Bristol Tourist Information Centre offers a range of services for tourists and these include booking theatre tickets, boat trips and coach tickets.
Open hours: daily - 10:00 to 18:00
As in any large city, always maintain an awareness of your surroundings and try to blend in and not look like a tourist when visiting Bristol. Although crime levels in this city are considered low, look like you know where you are going and be particularly careful with hand baggage. Wear a bag or camera across your body, or even consider using a concealed money belt. The St. Paul's area is one place best avoided at night.
Places of Worship
The diverse city of Bristol is home to a large number of different cultures and most religions have a presence. Many of the churches here belong to the Church of England as places of worship for the Anglican faith, although all faiths are always welcome. Newspapers generally list times of services for the main denominations. Bristol contains numerous cathedrals, chapels, mosques, temples and synagogues.
Pharmacies and Chemists
Most pharmacies in Bristol are open from at least 09:00 until around 18:00 and supermarkets often have in-store chemists. Local drugstores will usually open until 18:00, although some may stay open until later, and these usually have a pharmacy counter for dispensing prescriptions. Drugstores are rather like mini-supermarkets, with a wide range of products on sale.
English is the most commonly spoken language in the Bristol and the United Kingdom, although regional dialects can vary greatly and the Bristolian accent can be strong. There are many ways to say the same thing in the English language, so, in most cases, don't worry about trying to think of an alternative.
Tipping in Bristol is quite discretionary, with local taxi drivers usually being given a 10% gratuity or thereabouts - although this is not essential. City restaurants often include service charges and these are always clearly stated on the menus, otherwise a gratuity of around 10% is usually expected in recognition of prompt and courteous service. Hotel staff in Bristol, such as luggage handlers, happily accept a tip of one or two pounds. Generally, no other public service workers in the Bristol area expect tips.
In most buildings and on public transport in Bristol, rules now restrict smoking and this is usually indicated by no-smoking symbols in prominent places. Pubs and bars no longer welcome customers who wish to relax with a drink and smoke, following the arrival of a strict anti-smoking law in July 2007. Many pubs do tend to cater for smokers in garden and patio areas, with outdoor heaters during colder weather.
Smoking in Bristol, and England as a whole, is not as fashionable as it once was, so it is always worth exercising discretion and sensitivity when selecting a place in which to smoke. The best advice would be not to smoke unless others around you do so.
Invitations to Eat
Much business is done over the dinner table in Bristol and business lunches frequently take place at central Bristol restaurants recommended by your host. In most good restaurants there will be a comprehensive wine and beer list and tables usually need to be booked in advance. Business dinners in Bristol are also often conducted at home and these tend to be less formal affairs, with a pre-arranged time for arrival about half an hour before dinner is served. Although guests are not expected to arrive bearing gifts, a bottle of wine or flowers are very much appreciated and should be presented upon arrival. Social dinners are rarely formal affairs and guests will be encouraged to relax.
The British love pubs for their informality and social atmosphere. Pubs and wine bars in Bristol are most often places to meet and be seen, though each has its own standing in the local community, with some being frequented by business people, locals, celebrities and others by visitors and tourists. Most pubs and wine bars in Bristol are friendly places - if there is a good mix of people you can be sure that it is a good pub, otherwise, just close the door and find another nearby.
One of the most common social customs associated with drinking in pubs is that of buying a 'round' of drinks when drinking socially with a group. Members of the group take their turn, in no particular order, and as people's glasses empty it is a good idea to reciprocate and offer to buy the next round.
The belief that the British drink nothing but tea is today very much a myth. Many love drinking coffee, especially from the countless popular coffee shops in Bristol that have opened in recent years.