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UK hotel review: The Inspector calls at Artist Residence, a ‘gorgeous’ former squat in Bristol

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The Inspector stays in a former squat in Bristol that has been transformed into an industrial-chic hotel… and declares it a ‘triumph’

  • Artist Residence in Portland Square is fifth in a series of boho boutique hotels
  • Before it was a squat, the constructing was once a boot factory, the Inspector reveals
  • ‘To bring this constructing back to life is actually heroic,’ he says of its restoration 
  • Remember, the Inspector pays his way… and tells it prefer it is… 

Bristol has some dreadful buildings of the type only urban planners within the Nineteen Sixties could have dreamt up. So it’s a relief to show in to Grade I-listed Portland Square, laid out around central gardens, with St Paul’s church in a single corner — and Artist Residence in one other.

This gorgeous constructing was once a boot factory, then a squat for a few years, and the clever people behind the boho boutique chain (that is the fifth) have managed to retain a robust sense of each.

There are steel girders and pulleys here, exposed brick and timber joists there, wacky art on the distressed partitions (much of it involving phrases reminiscent of ‘party prefer it’s 1999’ and ‘if it’s not weird I’m not interested’), a beautiful steel lift shaft, concrete floors.

The Inspector checks into Bristol’s Artist Residence, which is housed on a corner of the Grade I-listed Portland Square in a ‘gorgeous’ constructing that was once a boot factory, then a squat for a few years

Pictured above is the Inspector's ¿Factory¿ room, which has high ceilings, two big sash windows , a small black Smeg fridge and a Roberts radio

Pictured above is the Inspector’s ‘Factory’ room, which has high ceilings, two big sash windows , a small black Smeg fridge and a Roberts radio

This picture offers a glimpse into a Factory room ensuite

This picture offers a glimpse right into a Factory room ensuite 

'There are 23 rooms, ranging from tiny broom cupboards (look away Boris Becker) to two large suites,' writes the Inspector. Above is the hotel's 'Loft' room

‘There are 23 rooms, starting from tiny broom cupboards (look away Boris Becker) to 2 large suites,’ writes the Inspector. Above is the hotel’s ‘Loft’ room

The rolltop bathtub in the 'Loft 'room. 'To bring this building back to life is truly heroic,' says the Inspector

The rolltop bathtub within the ‘Loft ‘room. ‘To bring this constructing back to life is actually heroic,’ says the Inspector  

In the event you thought industrial chic was on the wane, re-evaluate.

There are 23 rooms, starting from tiny broom cupboards (look away Boris Becker) to 2 large suites. 

Only a number of rooms are taken after I arrive on Tuesday evening after the Bank Holiday — so the friendly young man in charge offers to upgrade me to a billet with a shower. But on reaching the room, it transpires that the sheets haven’t been modified from the previous occupants.

‘Oops,’ he says, and off we return down the seagrass corridor to my original ‘Factory’ room, which has high ceilings, two big sash windows (three for those who count the one within the shower room), a small black Smeg fridge, clothes rack with chunky hangers and touches reminiscent of a phone charger, ‘deep sleep’ pillow spray and Roberts radio.

Pictured is the hotel's 'Club Suite'. Doubles are priced from £125 room only

Pictured is the hotel’s ‘Club Suite’. Doubles are priced from £125 room only

'The atmosphere is such that if you can¿t have a good time here, you won¿t have a good time anywhere,' the Inspector says of the hotel

‘The atmosphere is such that for those who can’t have time here, you won’t have time anywhere,’ the Inspector says of the hotel 

The Inspector notes that there's 'wacky art on the distressed walls (much of it involving phrases such as

The Inspector notes that there is ‘wacky art on the distressed partitions (much of it involving phrases reminiscent of “party prefer it’s 1999”)’

There’s a large amount of space on the bottom floor. One area has a ping-pong table and photo booth — and the long picket bar (with ‘Snog’ written above it) wouldn’t be misplaced in a cowboy film. Yes, it’s a touch contrived in places (a lollipop sign says ‘gone to sea’) however the atmosphere is such that for those who can’t have time here, you won’t have time anywhere. 

Plans are afoot for a correct restaurant. For now, there are pizzas and several other starters. I actually have three of the latter (sticky chicken wings, smoked bacon Caesar salad, rosemary fries) — all delicious.

This latest Artist Residence is a triumph. Not many individuals would have taken on such an audacious restoration project. To bring this constructing back to life is actually heroic.

TRAVEL FACTS

Artist Residence, 28 Portland Square, St Pauls, Bristol, BS2 8SA. 

Doubles are priced from £125 room only. For more information, call 0117 4288440, or visit artistresidence.co.uk

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