My partner and I were getting really excited as we were dragging our luggage along the old rail tracks by Bristol Harbour. Not only to get settled into our accommodation and to get ready to take on the city, but because our accommodation this time wasn’t any normal hostel – It was on a boat! None of us had ever been staying on a boat before, so I thought it would be great fun to try it out, when I came by the Kyle Blue hostel boat on the UK’s Independent Hostels website.
And here we were, boarding this beautifully refurbished boat, which turned out to be surprisingly spacious and comfortable to move around. We especially fell in love with the kitchen, which like the welcoming lounge offers some really nice views across the habour, and makes you feel right in the heart of the harbour-atmosphere.
The dilemma about unique forms of accommodation is chosing whether to stay in and just enjoy it, or to head out for adventures – but despite being tempted to hang out on the boat all day, we wanted to experience what the surrounding harbour had to offer.
Kyle Blue is moored at ‘Spike Island’, surrounded by several of the harbour’s highlights and some of the city’s main attractions. On a previous visit to Bristol I had the pleasure of visiting the impressive museum ship Brunel’s SS Great Britain, which is located in a drydock just a short walk west of the hostel, and this will be a perfect match if you’re visiting the city with kids.
A short walk east will lead you to another iconic ship, the reconstruction of ‘The Matthew of Bristol’, which in contrast to the SS Great Britain actually sails. Right next to this pirate-looking ship you will also find the extensive ‘M Shed’, which is a highly entertaining city museum that includes a doubledecker bus and colourful hot air baloons hanging from the ceiling. This is the best way to learn more about many different aspects of Bristol’s history.
On this particular harbourside-stroll we got tempted by edible attractions though, more specifically those found around the enticing “shopping container complex” named ‘Cargo’.
A whole little “city” of street food with intimate restaurants, specialty shops and cafés – literally stacked on top of each other in the Wapping Wharf area. The perfect place to go for a lunch-date, or to find some exotic ingredients for cooking in a self-catering accommodation like the Kyle Blue.
When you’re done eating and shopping, Bristol is a great place to go street art hunting – and from Spike Island it’s only a 15 minutes walk across the river down to the Southville and Bedminster, where you’ll find plenty of amazing murals and pieces to check out. I love to go exploring with my camera around these streets, where much of the street art originates from the annual street art festival ‘Upfest’, held in July.
Back on the boat we enjoyed the views from the kitchen as the sun set above Bristol Harbour, so even washing the dishes became a highlight of the day, and we couldn’t resist heading back out for a moonlit harbour-walk. It was supposed to just be a short stroll after dinner, but it ended up taking us across Queen Square and down the atmospheric King Street, from where jazzy tunes were flowing out over the rain wet cobblestones. We continued back down to the water, where sparkling lights were reflecting in the dark water of the inner harbour canal, and returned home to Kyle Blue and our cosy cabin with lots of “big city impressions,”. A great day on and around the water in downtown Bristol.