Gin Palace

Evolution of the Palace Hotel.

In nearly 150 years of existence the Gin Palace has played host to local residents, celebrities and Bristol's drag & trans scene.

1869-10-21 16:31:43

Gin Palace Built

Palace hotel (Gin Palace), built as a railway hotel (1869-70) for the Midland Railway. Unfortunately, the railway moved to share joint headquarters at Temple Meads! Sumptuous 1860s interior with brass columns and voluptuous plasterwork – plus sloping floor!

1980-01-01 00:00:00

A Glimpse into the Gin Palace

Local businessman Phillip Morris gives a colourful account of his first visit to the Gin Palace in the early 80s: I met this piano player V...he was a fantastic piano player...I thought what’s going on here. Two coppers standing outside in uniform and not drinking and closing time come, they walk over to him and arrested him and took him out instead of arresting him there and then they let him finish...[he was a shoplifter] He further recalled a usual occurrence at the Long Bar: ‘You’d get two fellas knockin’ ‘ammer dong ‘ammerin’ seven bells out each other in Old Market then they’d come in and have a drink cause they’d had an argument about something.’ Balanced against these memories are those of meeting Acker Bilk in the Long Bar or listening to Adge Cutler ‘singing away’ in the Gin Palace’ while ‘V.. played piano.’

2008-01-01 00:00:00

New Owners

The owners of the Bear Bar bought the lease and reopened the Gin Palace in 2008 on the understanding that it would be a gay friendly venue. It has, in fact, become a major venue for Bristol’s drag and trans community. The Gin Palace in turn has now become a meeting point and a beacon for men who dress as women or who are in the process of gender reassignment.

2010-01-01 00:00:00

Gin palace hailed as 'all inclusive'

the Palace had something unique. No matter who you were, or what you looked like, or whatever you were, you were welcomed by all the people in there, and it was really a nice place you could go, and no matter who walked through the door, whether you’re Superman or a tramp. One day I was there and there was a lady in her mid- forties with no top on at all, just sitting, having a conversation with an old man opposite and no one batted an eyelid. That’s the Palace and the randomness of it. - photos by Andy & Mandy (

Gin Palace

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