The Victorians sure did know how to design their toilets. Two of their more ornate examples are still in their original positions on the Downs either side of the monstrous concrete water tower; one still serves its original purpose, the other has been converted into one of Bristol’s most picturesque cafés.
The Downs Tea Room has now been rebranded as Café Retreat, sharing names with its sister businesses on Victoria Street and Whiteladies Road. But I will insist here in calling it by its original name. It remains the café to go to in Bristol when the sun is shining. There is a large area out front and to the side with tables and chairs, absolutely perfect in the sunshine and with lovely views across the Downs and often an ideal vantage point for games of football, Frisbee or the more obscure sports so popular these days. Anyone for Korf-ball?
The only problem can be the wind blowing a gale across the open space, sometimes making it nigh-on impossible to read a newspaper, of which the café provides many for customers to read.
Pushchairs can be parked half-a-dozen abreast at times, and the café is also popular with walkers and cyclists looking for a place to recharge their batteries.
It may have once been a toilet, but the Downs Tea Room is anything but shhh.
The Downs Tea Room, next to the water tower, Stoke Road. 0117 923 8186.
Bristol cafes. Cafes in Bristol. Clifton cafes. Cafes in Clifton. Cafe on Downs.