When an email plopped into my inbox asking if I’d like to go and see the redesign of the Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel and their brand new restaurant, Keepers, I was intrigued. I’d visited it previously a few years ago and had a perfectly pleasant evening there, but with the promise of Victorian architecture mixed with Bristol’s vibrant street-art scene and a relaxed restaurant vibe, I was looking forward to seeing how they’d given it a fresh new look.
As soon as I walked in, I could see the difference. The entrance lobby is now light and bright, with a gorgeous mix of eclectic furniture and graphic interior design, as well as big sofas that looked perfect for curling up on with a magazine.
I was shown through to Keepers for a welcome cocktail and boy was I impressed – to be completely honest, I couldn’t really remember what had been there before, but now the space is vibrant and modern and filled with super-Instagrammable details. The restaurant/bar has a bee theme (the hotel will be the home to its own urban rooftop bees very soon), which has been artfully reflected in its decor. The light is a warming yellow, hexagons create honeycomb shapes on multiple surfaces and jars of honey are set into glass-topped tables to complete the look.
And, of course, no bee theme would be complete without honey-infused cocktails – I tried all of them, just to make sure that I could report back fairly. My fave was definitely the restaurant’s namesake Keepers cocktail, though the Honey Bubble champagne/honey combo was a close second.
Before dinner we had a little tour of the hotel to find out more about the redesign. Inspired by Bristol itself, the team have worked with Stephen Hayles, founder of Upfest, to introduce a little bit of our fair city’s outside art into the inside of the hotel. Along with an incredible mural in the lobby by Gemma Compton, the rooms are filled with original pieces from some of the best street artists around, as well as locally-sourced design elements. This is a refreshingly different vibe for a chain hotel, and it’s so nice to see Bristol’s talent on display for guests to the city.
Then it was time to eat! We were given a selection of the gastro-pub style food to get our chops around and to give us an overall feel for the menu, and it was certainly a feast. From pizza and pasta to slow-roasted pig cheeks, there were plenty of options to suit all tastes. All the food was well-cooked and flavoursome, but my personal favourites were the Butchers sharing board, the elements of which just worked so well together, and the pan fried seabass – I could talk about its cripsy skin for days. We did also sample some desserts but they weren’t quite as good as the mains in my opinion, though the posset is definitely worth a try if you’re as obsessed with honey as I am.
We went home full and contented after a really enjoyable evening. A combination of a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere, good food and interesting drinks makes Keepers a destination in Bristol I would absolutely revisit – a far cry from usual hotel chain offerings, which tend to blend into one. Paired with the refurbed hotel setting, it now completely reflects its classic Bristol location, which is always something to celebrate. Another Keepers cocktail for me!