Is Papersmiths the Best Shop in Bristol?

Foreground HB pencils in aqua with pink rubber erasers, against background of magazines from Britain, Europe and America

Writing longhand seems like a guilty pleasure these days, but one stationery shop in Bristol makes it unashamedly cool again: Papersmiths.

This Clifton store offers a carefully curated selection of pens, notebooks, cards and accessories, not to mention a vast range of fashion and lifestyle magazines to rival those stocked by London’s best newsagents. I popped in during a quick trip to the city and, being a self-confessed stationery addict, I was quickly won over by most of the stock.

Customers browsing Clifton Village shop for pens, books and journals
These people are wishing Dale Winton would bring back Supermarket Sweep, to be staged here..

Brands in store range from the minimalist design-centric (Hay) to the infinitely quirky (Herb Lester travel guides). Visual merchandising is simple but effective, with pencils arranged in colour order, and copies of The Gentlewoman slotted between thick woollen rugs and bowls full of chunky erasers in the window, so you start to picture your own home gradually being transformed into a Papersmiths palace.

Retro set square by Danish design company Hay, with pencils in the background
Single-handedly making the set square cool again.

Clifton is an expensive part of Bristol, complete with slick cars, a few pretentious boutiques and delis, and an overkill of yummy mummies and Hooray Henry types, but underneath the veneer there’s still a beating Bristolian heart. Find it in the charity shops, the cheap-as-chips bakery, and the forlorn-looking but fabulously eclectic junk emporium (just past an overpriced antiques shop charging fifty quid for single basic bar stools – don’t confuse the two).

Shopfront in Clifton Village, Bristol, with gold lettering and pens on display
If lost, please return me here.

I guess Papersmiths bridges the divide between the showier and more genuine side of Clifton. Yes, there are pens that will cost more than a meal for two, but they’re designed to last years, not five minutes. There are also some great bargains for under a pound or under a fiver (like washi tape, cleverly designed sharpeners and technicolour ink cartridges), and some beautiful journals you could hang on to forever.

Blankets and abstract print cushion beside lifestyle magazine in shop display of Bristol store
Can I just move in here, please?

When it feels like everyone is pushing you to keep your calendar online, write your lists on list-making apps, and draw using your iPad instead of a pencil, it’s refreshing not to go with the flow.

Visiting Notes: Papersmiths, 6A Boyce’s Avenue, Clifton Village, Bristol, BS8 4AA. Open Monday-Saturday 10am-6pm, Sunday 11am-5pm.

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