As well as green credentials, the Bristol Wing has a strong community ethos, providing rooms for young homeless people alongside paying guests
Not so many years ago, arriving on a Friday night at Bridewell Street in the centre of Bristol (better known as The Bridewell) might have meant a night in the cells. Until 2005, this cluster of Grade II-listed buildings housed a police headquarters, police station and law courts, as well as a fire station. Since then it has been many things, including a graffiti gallery and a circus space – I have dim memories of coming to a rave here, once – and now it’s home to the Bristol Wing, a new boutique hostel with a social conscience.
Passing through a doorway engraved with the words Bristol Police Headquarters, my partner and I found ourselves in a stately 1920s foyer with forest-green walls, a black-and-white tiled floor and a restored cage lift: it’s a bit like a scene from Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. It would be tempting to describe this as a sanctuary from the streets outside, but that would miss the point. Along with its green credentials (wood-fibre insulation, solar panels and bird boxes on the roof), this hostel, opened in January 2018, provides nine single bedrooms for young homeless people every night, as well as one-to-one support, subsidised by fees from the commercial rooms and dorms.