Bristol: a great city to read in?

Don’t you just love it when you find a good book that you can just curl and disappear into? Me too. Sometimes it can be a challenge to find that perfect reading spot. I’m yet to own a library/study/personal cubby hole that I can decorate with a comfy, over-sized chair so for now I read a lot in bed (read: fall asleep on my book). Or on the bus. Neither are great options!

Last weekend I was pottering around Bristol city centre; shopping for a dress and needed to kill time before a date. I’d brought my book with me, so I was a prepared for some quality literary time. The book was Hannibal by Thomas Harris; brilliant characters, really bizarre ending.

So I tried reading my book in three places: Costa Coffee, The Birdcage and The Watershed.

Costa Coffee, Cabot Circus

It’s a coffee chain. There’s not that much to say; the hot chocolate is always very nice, but the seating is not particularly comfortable or suitable for spending much time in. I guess enough to drink your drink and move you on your way ready for the next customer. I did read a couple of chapters whilst eating my goat’s cheese and beetroot panini (which was quite tasty), but it was a bit busy and cold with the constant stream of people opening the door to get their caffeine fix.

The Birdcage, Clare Street

The Birdcage is a vintage, independent coffee shop come music venue. I really like it’s kitsch style and mismatching crockery and furniture. Sadly all of the comfortable, well-worn sofas were taken, so I settled for a rather normal-looking  chair and table. The hot chocolate was delicious and I stayed here for quite a while. I really enjoyed taking breaks from the plight of Hannibal Lecter and admiring the decoration; I really liked the way doors had been re purposed for the front of house area. There was enough hustle and bustle, but not too much so I managed to get a good few chapters in before I headed off into a rainy Bristol afternoon.

Watershed, Harbourside

I love the Watershed. Admittedly, I’ve not yet taken advantage of the cinema or any other events that they put on. But, I do love the bar/cafe area. Not only does the Watershed serve delicious beers, ciders, coffees and juices, but it also has a kitchen that produces great, affordable food. Take the chips; I’ve ordered them the last two times I have visited and they are all kinds of chunky potato sublimeness (is that a word? Should be). I took a table next to a window and was afforded a lovely view of the water. The seating is not exactly comfortable; pretty standard cafe chairs and benches, but the atmosphere is perfect for reading in. It’s always busy, but the kind of busy that gives a low level, steady buzz, rather than a cacophony of conflicting noise.

Of the three venues I mention above the Watershed is my favourite so far. But, I’ve still not found a great place in Bristol to curl up in a big armchair and read whilst the rain pours outside. Do you have any hidden gems to share with me? Perhaps I just need to get my own place and design my dream reading room!

lisa sig


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