The largest city in the western part of England, Bristol's outlying communities contain a population of more than a million people. Famous for its links to the United Kingdom's industrial heritage and revolution, it surrounds the River Avon and is very close to the Bristol Channel, which divides England from Wales. Bristol was the main port from which many immigrants left for the New World; subject to regeneration and civic pride of late, it is now the base for much of the UK's aeronautics industry, which in turn provide Bristol MICE venues with both local and international custom. It is also considered the gateway to England's "sunnier" counties of Somerset, Devon and Cornwall.
Bristol Airport (BRS), which has flights only to other parts of Europe, but not to London, sits eight miles southwest of the city centre, while 104 miles to the east is London Heathrow Airport (LHR), one of the busiest airports in the world. Trains from Paddington Station in London to Bristol take just over 90 minutes and stop at only five stations before they reach it.
While there are no large-scale MICE venues in Bristol, larger events can enjoy a cluster of facilities known as Bristol Harbourside, which includes Anchor and Waterfront squares, Lloyds Amphitheatre and At-Bristol, a conference facility that has seven meeting and function rooms mostly named after famous scientists, the largest able to cater to banquets of up to 480 persons.
MICE hotels in Bristol able to cater to meetings include the 275-room Mercure Bristol Holland House Hotel & Spa, which has 12 meeting rooms for up to 200 persons; the 242-room Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel, which has 21 meeting rooms for up to 350 persons; the 201-room DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Bristol City Centre, which has nine meeting rooms for up to 300 persons; the 187-room Bristol Hotel, a Member of the Doyle Collection, which has seven meeting rooms and a ballroom able to host up to 400 persons; and the 149-room Future Inns Bristol Cabot Circus, which has a conference facility spanning the hotel's entire top floor and with room to host 275 persons.
Unique MICE venues in Bristol mostly take advantage of the city's rich heritage. Excellent choices include Brunel's ss Great Britain, supposedly the world's first luxury ocean liner, which was built by the UK's greatest-ever engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel and has conference facilities and luxurious banquet rooms; Bristol's Old Station, which is one of the oldest in the world, also was built by Brunel and contains the Passenger Shed, the city's largest event space measuring more than 16,000 square feet, as well as other spaces such as the Station Master's Office for 10 persons; and Bristol Grammar School, which was founded in 1532, is still an active and much-sought-after center of education and contains a theatre for 145 persons and the magnificent Grand Hall for banquets of up to 380. Two other choices are arts center The Watershed, which is in the city's Harbourside area and has three function areas for up to 120 persons and three cinemas, the largest with 200 seats, and the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, which is, as is the grammar school, in the Clifton area of the city – most famous for the Clifton Suspension Bridge again built by that man Brunel – and which include the Wills and Winterstoke halls that can host receptions of up to 400 persons and banquets of up to 120 and the Egypt Hall, with many artefacts, for 30.
Restaurants in Bristol perfect for groups include Riverstation, which is Harbourside and has a changing menu and can be rented exclusively for up to 150 persons; the very celebrated Bordeaux Quay, which champions sustainable cuisine and also has a cooking school; Goldbrick House, in Clifton, which has several private rooms, such as The Loft, Orangerie, Study and Library (they are what they suggest they are); The Glass Boat, which is a boat on the River Avon with huge windows, an inventive menu and dining space for groups of up to 100 persons; and, also on the Avon but farther downstream, The Pump House, which has especially for groups a mezzanine for 72 persons.