Humans have a unique habit of looking at an empty building and thinking: ‘This would make a wonderful place to eat.’ From cafes inside of an old toilet or Robert of Gloucester’s atrium to restaurants in an old bank vault, these dining spots in Bristol have opened in some unusual places. Don’t worry, the food is still top-notch!
1. Vaulted Chambers Café
A cafe in a park isn’t that special, we know, but Vaulted Chambers Café is actually located in the remains of Bristol Castle in Castle Park. Thought to have originally been the entrance to the castle’s great hall, the cafe opened in 2021 with the income used to with the cost of maintaining the city’s parks and green spaces. With elaborate vaulted ceilings (giving the historic building its name) it is a breathtaking experience that comes with coffee and a cake.
Vaulted Chambers Café, 87 Castle St, Bristol BS2 0HQ
2. The Cloakroom
From eating like a king in his castle to living in squalor in an Edwardian public toilet. Yes, The Cloakroom used to be a bog, a water closet, a lav. But these days, sitting just off of Park Row, it’s one of Bristol’s cutest cafes. Built back in 1904, the restroom existed at a time when the surrounding area was an elegant, thriving destination – added features like radiators, lamps and furnishings are a nod to this Edwardian era. Its past as a toilet brings a unique blessing to the building too, with a sunroof that brings in plenty of sunlight!
The Cloakroom Cafe, Woodland Rd, Bristol BS8 1US
3. The Ox
To eat at one of the best steakhouses in Bristol, you have to head down into the basement of this Wetherspoons – which used to be a bank vault and wartime bunker. The Ox continues the Hyde & Co Group’s knack for creating hidden away, must-visit spots in the city. With more mouthwatering meat on the menu than you’ll ever be able to eat, as well as some incredibly creative cocktails, The Ox shouldn’t be missed.
The Ox, The Basement, 43 Corn St, Bristol BS1 1HT
4. The Glassboat
The Glassboat was a working barge in the 1920s, but from the ‘80s to 2022, it was one of Bristol’s most beloved restaurants. It recently reopened as a gin hotspot, Bristol’s local gin company, 6 O’clock Gin. You can’t get any food here yet, but a fully functional kitchen is on the way. For now, we’ll have to stick to just a few more G&Ts on a boat.
The Glassboat, Welsh Back, Bristol BS1 4SB
5. 3ft 6
Named after the length from the front of the cafe’s counter to the back wall, you’ll find 3ft 6 in someone’s garage. The Redfield coffee shop is owned by artist and designer Rob Savage, who transformed the space during the lockdown. Sometimes called Bristol’s smallest cafe, you’ll find it serving all sorts of hot drinks and baked goods to the residents of Lancaster Street and beyond.
3ft 6, 0.5 Lancaster St, Redfield, Bristol BS5 9QL
6. Bristol Lido
Bristol Lido has made such a splash as one of the best restaurants in Bristol that we often forget it’s overlooking a swimming pool (That is odd, right?). It’s the oldest surviving heated pool in the country, but you can dine on a variety of Mediterranean dishes in the original viewing gallery. After dinner, why not go for a dip?
Lido, Oakfield Place, Clifton, Bristol BS8 2BJ
7. St Werburghs City Farm Café
You’ll find this cafe directly next to St Werburghs City Farm and Boiling Wells, but that’s not what makes it one of the most unusual dining locations in Bristol. No, it is the gnarled wooden structure of St Werburghs City Farm Café that leaves us baffled and amazed. The hyper-local cafe feels almost hobbit-esque in its design, while the menu aims to have as minimal impact on the Earth as possible – with the farm providing all the ingredients.
St Werburghs City Farm Café, Watercress Rd, Bristol BS2 9YJ