Review: Full Moon Backpackers, Bristol
With an exterior more star-strewn than outer space, Full Moon Backpackers stands proudly at the mouth of Bristol’s Stokes Croft – a bohemian, free-thinking enclave. Welcoming bleary-eyed travellers into its arms, this quirky hostel is only a pebble’s throw away from the Bear Pit (one of the city’s most iconic open spaces), a 10-minute stroll from Bristol’s city centre, and a short ramble to the UK’s longest independent high street, Gloucester Road.
Hot-footing through its gates, towards the reception, I embraced the buzz of daytime drinkers, supping ciders against a backdrop of tasteful graffiti – and some pretty crazy instalments too. A blue android, perched upon a two-metre high toadstool with a shisha in his hand, is a trippy sight to say the least, but one that compliments Bristol’s eccentricity perfectly.
I was lucky enough to stay the night in this authentic backpackers’ abode, which welcomes hundreds of visitors throughout the year. At reception, the lovely Rachel greeted me and handed over the keys before directing me to my ‘flamingo themed’ room. She explained that Full Moon Backpackers is currently undergoing an exciting project, where artists are being drafted in from across the city to decorate the hostel and each of its rooms (ranging from twin beds to dormitories). I stayed in the 10-bed female-only dorm, where I was accompanied by a flamboyance of cool, pink birds designed and painted by Bristol-based artist Amber Elise! Encounter any one of the following during your stay; a botanical garden, a ‘goddess’ room, a ‘Bristol’s dreaming’ room, and an underwater-themed room.
After offloading my overnight bag, I set out to explore the rest of the hostel. Full Moon’s humble common room is a real hotbed for interesting conversation and an easy place to while away a few hours. Visitors can eat their evening meal, mustered up in the hostel’s well-equipped kitchen, while sharing stories to the sound of fellow guests strumming on their guitars.
Nuzzled beneath the hostel, the Full Moon Pub serves up a wide variety of real ales and ciders, guest beers, as well as decent grub (including wood-fired pizzas – our fave!). Chat the night away with follow hostellers, or local Bristol folk, while reggae dub beats resonate in the background. Linked to the pub and hostel is the Attic Bar – a live music venue which hosts some pure, home-grown Bristol talent, such as Laid Blak, as well as renowned artists from further afield. It was no surprise to me – a Bristol local who has frequented the Full Moon Pub and Attic Bar many times – that it was voted one of the top 10 music venues in the UK by the Guardian newspaper… hats off to you guys!
The large courtyard linking the pub, hostel and bar together, becomes a hub of activity during weekends. ‘Market at the Moon’, held every Saturday, brings together local, independent traders and artists – a perfect place for picking up an eclectic souvenir, or two! Come nightfall, the outdoor area is abuzz with locals and hostel guests flitting between the two bustling venues, shmoking the shisha (from the Full Moon’s shisha bar!), and soaking up the lively atmosphere in true Bristol fashion.
In my eyes, the Full Moon holds it own within the solar system of backpacking hostels … and it most certainly won’t be eclipsed any time soon!
Visit the Full Moon Backpackers website for full details.