As students, we all have to indulge our friends’ yearnings for those tacky, boring or awfully cringe things to do.
But the truth is, no matter how much hate you profess for wherever you get dragged to by your mates, you will always leave wanting more. Here are the places we can’t help but love in Bristol.
Two feet through the door and the stench of bile and broken dreams floods your nostrils. It is 10am and perched on the stool by the bar, is a retired bricklayer who asks to see the cider menu while the head of Football Society grabs a cheeky round of fosters for the lads. Why does everyone keep coming back? It’s cheap, it’s cheerful, it’s Spoons.
The Free Shop
Located in Stokes Croft and built-in 1780, the former squatter’s house is now the ultimate charity shop. Doing exactly what it says on the tin, The Free Shop was created by locals and run by volunteers. You can leave your old bric-a-brac and unwanted presents for anyone to come in and take. Truly a free for all, on paper, it sounds like a mess and in all honesty, the shop isn’t exactly in the best upkeep. Next to a paint factory and surrounded by the iconic graffiti and dinginess of the road it should be unpleasant in nature. However, it is actually delightfully quirky and infinitely friendly. There were plans to take it down in 2012 after squatters moved back in and started a 72-hour rave, and it is again under threat and may be dismantled. So make sure to stop by and give it support while it is still around.
‘I’m not coming out tonight guys, I have no money’ moaned Suzie as shes slouched in the lecture theatre this morning. But before she knows it, she’ll be sprawled on the pavement outside Beacon House with six jaeger bombs gurgling in her stomach. Soon she will be scoffing down a dirty kebab that costs nearly twice her entry to The Bunker. Surely we students can’t afford one of these every night, but at 3am, we will always make it work.
The Bear Pit
Despite appearing like a random place, it is looked at fondly by the locals. On first glance, it’s a collection of cold concrete decorated with political graffiti and the homeless. It’s definitely not a tourist destination. However, the street music combined with the sense of community, the newly opened street food stalls and fruit stalls have to make it into a great place to pass by.
Do I want to see a menu? I wouldn’t bother mate. With four hundred options it is all the same delicious slop. Nobody comes here for the ‘fine traditional Indian cuisine’ promised on the windows. We come here for the BYOB, no rules piss-up.
Nestled around casinos and bookies The Lanes could easily be missed, however, it is a gem once you find it. Once you take a flight of dark steps to emerge at the underground alle the first thing you are met with is a full catered bar rather than a desk full of smelly bowling shoes. Now, the prospect of throwing heavy spheres in a room of intoxicated individuals doesn’t sound like the smartest idea but the drinks are definitely the perk of the retro-themed alley. There are no hyperactive kids running around, the atmosphere is chilled and you are most likely going to have a friendly competition with the other two lanes.
Za Za Bazaar
This all you can eat gut-busting buffet is single-handedly the most disgusting and yet glorious place on earth. A group trip to Za Za’s is always planned weeks in advance so the starvation process can begin. During my visit, I can be about a kilo of lamb bhuna in, but I can still go back for pizza, fried chicken and duck pancakes before starting on my twenty-minute chocolate fountain binge.
Motion is an over-glorified warehouse to most that first encounter it. Off the side of a quiet road, it boasts the most potent music which can be heard as vibrations for miles. Overall it has the empty presence of a horror movie rather than a club. But when you are in the mood for a cheeky bit of live house and grime it has you covered. Moving from room to room can definitely feel like a club crawl. Just be sure to taxi it home so you don’t have to face the tunnels while you are drunk.
This is undoubtedly my go-to bar and it has finally reopened. But good luck ordering drink girls, I am 5ft 4ins and I find it impossible to reach the top of the bar. On the dance floor, you will brush shoulders with middle-aged women, bar crawling packs of students and greying men. With free entry and the finest naughties cheese on offer and if you don’t enjoy yourself here, you take yourself too seriously.