We’ve asked Anna, Angel in the North, to give us the low down on the best of Leeds. So if you fancy a weekend away or even a mid-week break, read on...
Near to the train station is Leeds’ newest shopping and socialising mecca, Trinity Leeds, you can easily pass a full day and night here if you’ve got a bit of money in your pocket (as you booked your train in advance!).
First, shop at some of the best-known high street names, then have fast food freshly cooked from one of the mobile vans in Trinity Kitchen, the centre’s hip street food-style dining area.
Chill out for a couple of hours with a film at the Everyman Cinema, where you and your companion can share a comfy two-seater sofa.
Now you’re rested, go back to your room and dress up – because at night Trinity is the place to see and be seen. Start in The Alchemist, where it is nearly as much fun to watch the cocktail creations being made as it is to drink them. Eat at fine dining restaurant Crafthouse and end the evening with a glass of champagne on the top floor, overlooking the city from the balcony of Angelica.
The next day, take things at a slightly slower pace and get to know Leeds’ healthy art scene.
Revered sculptor Henry Moore was born in West Yorkshire, and in Leeds you’ll find the Henry Moore Institute, which hosts exhibitions, conferences and lectures. Neighbouring the Institute is Leeds Art Gallery, in front of which sits Moore’s famous bronze sculpture ‘Reclining Woman: Elbow’.
Unfortunately, the gallery is closed for repairs until 2017 but call in for coffee at its magnificent Victorian Tiled Hall café, which remains open. If you fancy something more substantial, book in for afternoon tea at nearby Brown’s, where a pianist plays on Sundays.
If you prefer up-and-coming and contemporary artists, an interactive experience or something more family-friendly, The Tetley is for you.
The Henry Moore Institute and Leeds Art Gallery are part of the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle, which also includes The Hepworth Wakefield and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. The Hepworth is in the centre of Wakefield, which is about 15 minutes by train from Leeds. From the centre of Wakefield, the Sculpture Park is a 25-minute bus or £10 taxi ride away – but it’s well worth the effort.
If you choose to stay in Leeds, later you could see a show at Leeds Grand Theatre or the West Yorkshire Playhouse, or watch a world-famous artist perform at the First Direct Arena.
Round off your night in the city’s evolving Northern Quarter. Have a cocktail at stylish New York-themed bar Manahatta or, if you like your night caps more laid-back, try Zaap Thai or grab a slice of pizza and a craft beer and sit on a deckchair on the roof terrace at Belgrave Music Hall.
If you’re in Leeds over a weekend, you must take brunch (served 11am-3pm) at Ox Club. Believe it or not, the roast cauliflower is not to be missed.
After, go round the corner to Harvey Nichols if you’re in the mood to treat yourself – or just want to people watch. The Leeds store was Harvey Nichols’ first outside London and it is found in the upmarket Victoria Quarter, also home to designer brands like Louis Vuitton, Mulberry and Vivienne Westwood. It’s not all about the shopping here though: this historic arcade has a record-breaking stained glass roof and stunning mosaic floor.
Speaking of spectacular architecture, your next destination should be the Corn Exchange, home to many of Leeds’ independent and creative retailers and sometimes vintage and craft fairs. After stepping inside the Victorian building, look up and take a minute to stand in awe at the striking domed roof.
On your way back to the train station, call in at Roxy Lanes. Here you’ll have probably the coolest game of ten pin bowling of your life – even while wearing those ugly red, blue and white bowling shoes.
Before boarding the train, grab a drink and a bite at Bundobust – an award-winning pairing of Indian street food and craft beer – or bar and charcuterie Friends of Ham. The latter has become a Leeds institution in its four years in the city, already extending to accommodate its popularity.
I can think of no more fitting way to say ‘goodbye’ to Leeds. Hopefully, it will cement your decision to only say ‘see you later’.
If you’ve been inspired you can book tickets to Leeds here.