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September 9th, 2020
From marvelling at rare Toulouse Lautrec paintings, seeking out Banksys, to admiring Grayson Perry's earliest forays into the art world, consuming culture can be a demanding business. Luckily for visitors to Bristol, Bath and the surrounding area, many of our galleries, museums, theatres and attractions have got brilliant cafes attached. Here's our pick of where to get a get a good brew in culture-tastic spots around the two cities.
*Please note Covid-19 restrictions may apply to some of the locations mentioned in this blog post. We advise calling, or checking the website before your visit to avoid disappointment.
Arnos Vale is a Victorian Garden Cemetery and unique heritage site in the heart of Bristol, with 45 green acres of woodland to explore. Wander the grounds before settling in at the Atrium café for freshly-ground coffee and mouth-watering cakes and pastries.
The Orangery Cafe, American Museum and Gardens, Bath
The American Museum takes visitors on a journey through the history of the USA, from its early settlers to the 20th century. There’s as much to see outdoors as inside the Georgian manor house, including a replica of George Washington’s garden at Mount Vernon.
After delving into Americana, visitors can sample American recipes in The Orangery Cafe, including Snickerdoodles, cowboy cookies and brownies alongside a cup of Joe.
Milsom Street’s Grade II*-listed Octagon Chapel in Bath is steeped in history. Built in 1767, the fashionable church attracted many distinguished visitors, including Jane Austen. William Herschel was appointed as the organist and the keyboards and pipes can be seen today at the nearby Herschel Museum of Astronomy. Today, the octagon-shaped building is in the hands of The Botanist, a restaurant and cocktail bar where you can get everything from a cup of coffee, to tapas, Indian street food and theatrical concoctions.
Arnolfini is one of the leading international contemporary arts spaces in Europe, presenting a diverse programme of performance, dance, music, cinema and artistic events throughout the year.
Along with its thought-provoking exhibitions, Arnolfini holds one of the best waterfront positions on Bristol Harbourside and its onsite cafe/bar (managed by independent brewery Bristol Beer Factory) has indoor and outdoor tables on the quayside where you can soak up the views.
Alternatively, you can make like the locals and dangle your legs over the Harbour wall, while quenching your thirst with a takeaway beverage.
Emmeline Cafe @ Spike Island, Bristol
Spike Island is an international centre for the development of contemporary art and design, and a hub of creativity based at the southern end of Bristol’s Floating Harbour. A working space for artists, creative businesses and designers, Spike Island showcases contemporary art exhibitions all year-round, alongside lively talks and events in its expansive gallery spaces.
To get you in the art-perusing mood, check out the fabulous onsite community cafe, run by Emmeline Cafe (who also have a site on Cheltenham Road). The focus here is on wholesome food and drink and you’ll find organic, free-range nosh on the menu in bright, spacious surroundings.
The Royal West of England Academy (RWA) is a world class art gallery that celebrates the best of historic and contemporary art from around the world.
Dissect the amazing exhibitions with a friend over a cuppa in the RWA cafe, run in partnership with ARA - a registered charity which has helped over 70,000 people with alcohol, drug, gambling and mental health issues.
Cafe @ Bristol Museum & Art Gallery
Bristol Museum & Art Gallery houses a wonderful mix of arts, natural sciences, archaeology and world cultures dating back thousands of years ago, up until the present day.
The Museum's permanent collection includes jaw-dropping examples of curiosities, Old Master paintings, contemporary works (including a couple from Banksy himself) as well as impressive ceramic and glassware.
If all that culture-devouring leaves you famished, the museum’s onsite cafe will let you gawp at mesmerising sights (a giant pliosaurus and stone lion sculptures nonetheless) while tucking into fresh, homemade, fairtrade and organic food. Located towards the rear of this beautiful grade II* listed building, it’s a fascinating setting, with lofty ceilings, comfy seating and family-friendly vibes.
Located in one of the remaining ex-Tobacco Factories in the city, the theatre is an energetic performance venue that features classic and contemporary performances, as well as comedy, dance, puppetry, film, opera, music and family shows.
The Cafe Bar is the proud owner of a solar-powered coffee machine, so you can sip an eco-friendly cup of joe (from local roaster Clifton Coffee) while discussing thrilling plots and performances. There’s also an outdoor terrace, should you find yourself in need of caffeine in warmer weather.
This handsome Georgian museum sits at the end of Great Pulteney Street and houses an expansive art collection (current exhibition Grayson Perry: The Pre-Therapy Years has been making waves in 2020).
The museum’s Garden Cafe is an architectural attraction in its own right, an award-winning modern extension whose layers of glass and moulded ceramic, contrast beautifully with the 17th century building’s facade.
The cafe, run by Benugo, is a magnificent space that opens onto the historic Sydney Gardens, and a bright, charming spot for refuelling after observing an eclectic range of masterpieces.
Bowl of Plenty @ Bristol Folk House
Bristol Folk House is a music venue, gallery space and adult education centre all rolled into one. Inside you’ll also find a cosy cafe run by Bowl of Plenty, with outdoor space - a bohemian haven in the heart of the city.
Whether you’re stopping in after attending one of their many courses, or seeking refreshment after an exhibition or gig, expect delicious coffee and a menu full of organic goodness.
Bristol Old Vic is the oldest continually-running theatre in the English-speaking world. More recently - following a huge refurbishment project - BOV opened a new bar and kitchen, 1766 (named after the year the theatre opened), where you can sip a coffee (and tuck into some delectable treats) against the impressive backdrop of the theatre’s original façade.
Harbourside Kitchen @ Brunel’s SS Great Britain
Built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, one of the greatest figures of the industrial revolution, the SS Great Britain became one of the most important historic ships in the world. Visitors can explore the magnificent vessel, as well as fascinating museum Being Brunel, which takes a look into the mind of the man who created her. Afterwards, digest 175 years of history over a cup of coffee, watching the world sail by on Bristol’s Floating Harbour.
Tucked away in Bristol’s Shopping Quarter is the oldest Methodist Chapel in the world, the New Room. Inside, there’s an award-winning, interactive museum to explore where you can find out what life was life in Georgian Bristol and how Methodism spread through the UK, USA and rest of the world. Visitors will also find a cafe under a large glazed roof, serving Fairtrade and a good pedigree of organic coffee (it’s called Grumpy Mule!), tea and tempting bakes.
360 Cafe @ Clifton Observatory, Bristol
Perched on the cliffside of the dramatic Avon Gorge, Clifton Observatory has one of the best views in Bristol. Drink in the views of Clifton Suspension Bridge and Mendip hills over a coffee at the fabulous 360 Cafe. There’s indoor seating in the glass cafe, plus a rooftop terrace with breathtaking panoramic views.
No National Trust visit would be complete without a slice of cake or a freshly-baked scone, washed down with a mug of tea or coffee. Both Dyrham Park, Dyrham and Tyntesfield, Wraxall have transformed the former stables into atmospheric, family-friendly cafes where visitors can refuel after touring the sprawling grounds and fascinating mansion houses. If you don’t want to sit in, there are also kiosks open on both sites, where you can grab a coffee to go.
Situated in the majestic Assembly Rooms, Bath’s world-renowned Fashion Museum showcases a remarkable collection of historic Regency gowns to current fashion from leading designers.
The Assembly Rooms cafe, with its sun-trap garden, is the perfect place to take a break in historic surroundings. Pick up a Fairtrade coffee and sumptuous cake for a fiver!
From the introductory talk by a costumed guide, to the Regency Tea Room, where you can treat yourself to a ‘Tea with Mr Darcy’, the Jane Austen Centre offers incredible insight into life in Regency Bath. Grab a coffee, or afternoon tea, all served by staff in Regency regalia for the ultimate Austen experience.
The Roman Bath complex is one of the best preserved Roman ruins in the world and offers a true glimpse into one of the most fascinating parts of the city’s history. Once you’ve been wowed by these stunning remnants of ancient Roman Britain, you can sample the famous Bath waters straight from the spring in the Pump Rooms next door. If the famously ‘unusual’ tasting water - containing 43 minerals - is not for your palate, morning coffee, breakfasts, cream teas and brunches are all on offer, served alongside classical music under beautiful architecture.
M Cafe @ M Shed, Bristol
Located on the dockside, inside a former transit shed, the colourful objects, art and archival materials inside M Shed tell the story of the people of Bristol from prehistoric to modern times.
M Café, located on the ground floor of the museum, overlooks the Harbour, city centre and independent eateries housed in refurbished shipping containers next door. As well as fairtrade and organic drinks (the coffee comes from artisan roasters in Clifton), there are cakes, sandwiches and teatime treats for your delectation.
Old Market Assembly, Bristol
The Old Market Assembly has many strings to its bow. Home to the Assembly Bakery, Wardrobe Theatre, regular live music and open mic nights, there’s also a fantastic restaurant space creating flavourful, flexitarian and sustainable dishes, and cafe/bar stocked with the finest local brewers, winemakers, cider producers and distillers in the region. The best part is, you can order a coffee and slab of cake to munch while you enjoy the show.
Cafe/Bar @ St George's Bristol
The stunning Georgian building of St George’s Bristol is one of the country's finest concert halls, boasting superb acoustics that attracts thousands of music-lovers to hear classical, jazz, blues, folk, world music or spoken word events. The cafe, on the ground floor of their pavilion-style extension, serves a locally-sourced menu for breakfast and lunches coupled with home-made cakes and Triple Co Coffee, where you can unwind after treating your eardrums to a musical feast.
The Edge, Bath
The Edge is an ultra-modern arts centre which houses the spacious Andrew Brownsword Gallery. Part of the University of Bath, it’s a cultural hub that promotes the art in science and the science in art. The modern, stylish cafe is a calming space where you can pick up a coffee before or after browsing an exhibition.
Thermae Bath Spa, Bath
Thermae Bath Spa is the only day spa in the UK which has access to Bath's natural, mineral-rich thermal waters. In addition to relaxation rooms, multi-sensory wellness suites, various pools and spa treatments, there’s an elegant restaurant which you can wander into in your bathrobe. Spa users can soak up the beautiful Georgian architecture, while trying a variety of rich coffees, drinks and a seasonal menu.
Underfall Yard is a working boatyard with a historic visitor centre and cafe overlooking the water.
Keep yourself shipshape and Bristol fashion with coffee in the Visitor Centre or out on the Knuckle with lovely views out over the Harbour.
Multi-arts venue Watershed houses three cinemas alongside a waterfront bar and restaurant that prides itself on its ethical approach to food and drink. Sourcing as many ingredients as possible from people they know and trust in the South West, everything is freshly-made and the coffee is top notch. It’s the perfect place to natter over art-house movies and soak up Bristol’s buzzing Harbourside atmosphere.
This exciting, interactive science centre is a state-of-the-art visitor attraction offering creative, hands-on exhibits, the UK’s first 3D planetarium and year-round events and activities to fire imaginations and embolden curious minds. If all that wild discovering leaves your brain in need of re-energising, the award-winning onsite cafe has great views of Millennium Square. All food waste is composted where possible, which then gets used on the Millennium Square Community Garden.
St Nick’s Market, Bristol
Trading since 1743, St Nick’s is one of Bristol’s oldest markets and has been named one of the top ten markets in the UK. Under its glass roof you’ll find many permanent independent food stalls and several outdoor markets take place on various days in the streets running adjacent to The Exchange Building. Visitors are spoilt for choice on places to pick up a coffee and a treat in this vibrant Georgian arcade.
Teatro Lounge, Curzon Cinema, Clevedon
The Curzon opened its doors in 1912 with a fundraiser for the survivors of the Titanic disaster and is one of the oldest working cinemas in the world. Today, the vintage movie theatre offers a unique cinematic experience, screening everything from mainstream to arthouse, live streamings of opera, exhibition and theatre, as well as live comedy and music.
The art deco-inspired Teatro Lounge occupies the same building as the Curzon cinema, so you catch a flick and grab a flat white in this historic spot.
Clevedon Pier, Britain’s only Grade 1*-listed pier, offers visitors the chance to stroll along the Victorian landmark and discover its fascinating history through hands-on exhibitions. For spectacular views across the Severn Estuary and the pier itself while you dine, it’s hard to beat the glass-fronted Tiffin at the Pier. Summer will see the opening of the Pagoda café at the far end of the Pier, with coffee, cake and coastal panoramas to swoon over.
You don’t need to buy tickets for Berkeley castle to dine at the pretty Walled Garden Yurt Tea Rooms, but we highly recommend it! The medieval castle (which is still lived in today) has a fascinating past. Inhabited by the Berkeley family for 27 generations, the impressive fortress has been embroiled in significant historic events, from a murdered king to a wedding that inspired Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, to a modern day film location, there is much to discover within its walls.
The Theatre Bar is open one hour before performances and for interval drinks, selling locally-sourced bottled drinks, great coffee and amazing ice creams.
The Theatre Bar doubles up as an art gallery every second Saturday displaying work by local artists.
Weston Museum is home to Clara’s Cafe which offers fresh food and drink daily. We offer seasonal specials related to our current exhibitions.
With stunning views of the Museum courtyard, Clara’s Cafe is open to all guests and aims to be a space which is inclusive to all. Clara’s Café is a safe and welcoming space which is fully accessible and is part of the Breastfeeding Friendly Scheme.