The suburbs, villages, towns and cities that made the cut within a short distance of Bristol were chosen for different reasons - either for their best restaurants and pubs, stunning green spaces, cool independent shops, brilliant farmers’ markets or must-see attractions.
The lifestyle website uses insider knowledge of places outside of London to help potential buyers and renters decide where they’d like to live.
The local round-up is part of the site’s top 250 places to live guide for 2023. Below are ten top places picked in Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire - along with the reasons they were chosen.
1. Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire
A gorgeous historic town packed with fairytale cottages, this is your nirvana if you’re after indie shops and eateries, canal and river life, a vibrant ethical and cultural community plus a quick route into Bath. Muddy Stilettos says: “It’s a beautiful historic town with honey-coloured stone buildings and both a canal and the River Avon running through it, plus a station with brilliant links to Bath, Bristol, London and the South Coast. Things to do include walking or cycling the glorious countryside, messing about on the water, or taking part in this small but vibrant community’s various cultural and ethical initiatives, from wine-tasting to litter-picking to eco-activism. Not forgetting some great places to eat, drink and shop at indies, plus good schools and a close proximity to Bath (20 minute drive, 10-15 mins by direct train) – in fact it’s considered locally as one of the Georgian city’s suburbs, despite being just across the border.” Timbrell’s Yard is a stylish riverside coaching inn with rooms in the heart of town, perfect for family lunches, evening cocktails, pop-up events and parties. The Weaving Shed has an idyllic view of the river and is a great brunch stop, but for a slap-up special occasion, The Bunch of Grapes is the ultimate rendezvous. A little way up the hill, there’s family pizza business Amici’s, while Hartley Fare, just on the edge of town at Winsley, is a top spot for pretty much anything edible. Down by the river, Stones Paper Scissors is the place for locally made gifts while just across the way near the medieval Tithe Barn, a historic building owned by English Heritage, is The Granary at the Tithe Barn, with a selection of gorgeous, rustic home decor, presents and decorations.
2. Bruton, Somerset
The Notting Hill of the South West has more than its fair share of cultural highlights, great food and famous people. Muddy Stilettos says: “Low key but cool Bruton, aka the Notting Hill of the South West, has more than its fair share of cultural highlights, great food and famous people. There’s a strong community feel and the annual Packhorse Fair in May is fun.” Meet friends for coffee, cocktails, dining, fresh bread and pizzas at At The Chapel. Cocktails and dining at The Roth Bar & Grill; dish of the day at Matt’s Kitchen, coffee with books (and sometimes live music) at the Stripy Duck bookshop and Mexican-inspired grub and live music at The Prickly Pear. When you fancy Michelin star dining, head to Osip, owned by the youngest chef to win a star, Merlin Labron-Johnson or you can eat at his deli and wine bar The Old Pharmacy. Rochelle Canteen co-founder Margot Henderson is opening The Three Horseshoes in nearby Batcombe soon. There is a growing number of tasteful shops and assorted little galleries. Near the railway station is Godminster for cheese and more. The Durslade Farm Shop for artisan produce and homewares, artfully displayed.
3. Cirencester, Gloucestershire
With butterscotch buildings and acres of stately parkland Cirencester is sky high on the good life hit list. It might have a price tag to reflect its brilliant schools and bucolic setting – but it’s oh so tempting. A truly stand-out Cotswold market town that combines history with hipness. Perched on the edge of an Area of Outstanding Beauty it’s crammed with pretty butterscotch lanes, outstanding schools, bustling boutiques, exceptional restaurants and a chilled café scene. Famed for being ‘well heeled’, it’s in fact a wonderfully unpretentious town with a strong community spirit and friendliness that makes it an ideal place for families. The pretty Abbey Grounds play host to the phenomenal annual Phoenix Festival – the Cotswolds free music and arts festival. The ‘Capital of the Cotswolds’ – or Ciren as locals call it – gives you the full package, historic architecture, a redesigned central piazza lined with pretty pastel shops at the heart of the town and a cosmopolitan mini-metropolis buzz. The award-winning Malt and Anchor does a legendary Prosecco-based ‘Fizz ‘n Chips’ night. MBB Brasserie is where the culinary cognoscenti go to network and nosh. Head for the King’s Head Hotel with its luxury rooms, Roman remains on show and rooftop bar, or to Teatro at Ingleside House for five-star pre-show dining. Newly opened Henry’s Bar & Restaurant does cracking seafood. Retail mavens will be very happy here. There’s an eclectic sprinkling of little boutiques, especially down pretty Black Jack Street. Delve into the cavernous Cirencester Antiques Centre for antiques and visit the eclectic antique market held in the Corn Hall every Friday, a treasure trove of vintage jewellery, paintings, and vintage homewares. Every week sees a brilliant Farmers’ Market, too, in the main market place, with the best local food producers selling their bread, cheese, locally-made gin and more.
4. Clevedon, Somerset
Independently minded, lively little seaside town overlooking the Bristol Channel and beyond, with elegant Victorian villas, indy shops and eateries, possibly the country’s prettiest pier – and only 15 miles from Bristol. An independently minded, lively little seaside town overlooking the Bristol Channel and beyond as far as Wales, with elegant Victorian villas, indy shops and eateries and possibly the country’s prettiest pier – and only 15 miles from Bristol, if you need a city fix. Highlights include the family-run British/Italian restaurant/deli/bar/wine shop and bakery Murrays of Clevedon and the Modern British fare at Puro. On The Beach Tiffin Teahouse has views across the estuary and expect inventive bread and cakes from Pullin’s Bakery. For independent shops, try hip home wares at Midgely Green, Clevedon Music Shop, Books on the Hill and the artisan Clevedon Sunday Market on the first Sunday of the month between the seafront, Hill Road and Alexandra Road from March to December. There are chains downtown. Have a dip at the sea water swimming pool Marine Lake on the seafront.