Set just behind the main shopping high street of Briggate on Central Road is another edition to the thriving independent coffee scene of Leeds.
Walking into Mrs Atha's feels like you have just entered a downtown New York coffee house. Exposed brickwork, high ceilings, and mood lighting add to the feel. The guys who work behind the counter are all really well informed about the coffee served. Along with the regular house blend each week they have a guest coffee. The all day breakfast menu has mostly sandwich fare along with pancakes. Pastries and cakes are also available from the counter. Nearly everything on the menu comes in around the £3 50p mark.
The atmosphere is friendly with sofas and communal tables giving an informal air to the place.
18 Central Rd, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6DE
Google map: bit.ly/ZVFGOt
I discovered this place yesterday, even though I have lived in Leeds for four years. Hidden away next to a fish and chip shop (I think that's new too?) just off Wellington Street, this place serves up a brilliant sandwich.
Although I had never been there before, I was clearly late to the party on this one as it was very busy and there was a queue for sandwiches. I had a roast beef sandwich on the biggest slices of bread I've ever seen, and my friend had a jacket potato slathered with tuna mayonnaise!
We were lucky to get a table as most people were ordering lunch to take away. The food was delicious, and we had to go back for some carrot cake to finish it off in style. I would really recommend Appetite cafe.
The Chambers is an incredible hidden gem in Leeds city centre and would give any five-star hotel a run for its money.
The Chambers is in a grand building on a quiet street in the city centre. We went inside to be greeted by a roaring fire and a very friendly welcome from the receptionist. The reception area is very grand and has the feel of a private members' club or boutique hotel.
All of the rooms are serviced apartments so we had a bedroom that was just like a luxury hotel room (big bed, huge mirrored wardrobe, TV on the wall), plus a lounge with sofas and an armchair, another TV, a dining table set for four people and a kitchen! We really liked the decor, which was modern but still cosy. The lounge area was perfect as I could spend time there with my parents, unlike in a hotel room.
My parents really enjoyed their stay and found the bed was very comfortable, the staff very friendly and were happy with everything.
30 Park Place, Leeds, LS1 2SP
+44(0)113 394 6379
Google map: bit.ly/12p9pDU
It is a fantastic city and I always find what I am looking for. It has all the major chains, including a Harvey Nicks, where I can get that perfume that no-one else seems to sell anymore! But it has small independent shops hidden away in wonderful arcades or try the shop next to the art gallery for something a bit different. If you come for the weekend, there are wonderful restaurants, hotels and I am told, great nightlife. Give it a try.
My girlfriend and I decided to visit Leeds Seventeen after receiving a recommendation from a friend. The reception by the staff was warm, and the menu was perfect for us (traditional English dishes with a contemporary feel).
I ordered a rib-eye steak (medium rare), and my girlfriend ordered the duck. Both meals were beautifully cooked and presented. The prices where very reasonable for what felt like a high-end restaurant. The side dishes were a bit small, but priced appropriately so we didn't mind.
We took advantage of their early bird deal, meaning we got 30% off our total bill. Highly recommended!
Roots & Fruits is a vegetarian institution. This unpretentious cafe in central Leeds offers a warm and homely welcome and a menu full of fresh and delicious fare which appeals to veggies and non-veggies alike.
My favourite starter has to be the goats cheese fritters with onion marmalade, and the full breakfast is equal to the task of conquering any hangover you care to throw in its path.
Situated in the Grand Arcade, and open until 7pm, it is also a good choice for a pre-theatre supper. The drinks menu includes an unrivalled choice of teas and fresh juice, but if you fancy a glass of wine then you’re welcome to take your own.
The Aire and Calder navigation runs from Leeds to Goole, and its towpath forms part of the Transpennine Trail. For several miles the canal runs alongside the river Aire, to Thwaites Mill in the suburb of Hunslet. Strange to think that the 21st-century office and factory workers walking its banks are treading the same towpath as their Victorian forebears. Lads from Hunslet, all tattoos and LUFC shirts, fish from the banks. The waterways are home to kingfishers, otters, herons, and me. Without this peaceful retreat from factory life, I would go insane.
Thwaites Mill, Hunslet, LS10 1RP
The Hyde Park Picture House in Leeds is the second oldest continually operating cinema in the country, one of the oldest surviving cinemas from the silent era and with many of its original features still intact. To be found on the corner of a terraced street you come upon it almost by surprise. Not only has it shown film, it has also featured in film, notably Wetherby in 1985. What makes it so appealing is its intimate feel - indeed it was advertised in 1914 as “the cosiest picture house in Leeds”. It hasn’t changed much since then. Among its most well known features is its gas “modesty lighting”, which could be dimmed by the projectionist to a level that would preserve decency during a show! To be found on the corner of a terraced street you come upon it almost by surprise. Today it serves the local community well, showing a mixture of selected mainstream cinema, classic cinema, arthouse films, Hindi films and is about to host the Leeds Young People’s film festival. It even welcomes babies to its Saturday morning screenings.
A trip to Leeds would not be complete without a visit to Fuji Hiro. A small noodle bar based near the Merrion Centre. The exterior may not look impressive and the interior is simple to say the least, but once your food arrives you will realise there is no need for frills as the food speaks for itself. Mountains of noodles or giant soup bowls filled to the brim with fresh succulent chicken breast, garlic, chilli, ginger, you will not be disspapointed. And you will no doubt go away feeling like your clothing may have shrunk.
Merrion Centre, 45 Wade Lane, Leeds, LS2 8NJ
+44(0)113 243 9184
Nearest Station - Leeds City
Google map: tinyurl.com/yaf25aa
Harewood is a fantastic place, with over 300 acres of immaculately and beautifully kept gardens and grounds for visitors to stroll through with their dogs, or romp wildly through the winding paths with their children or just sit and admire the Capability Brown fashioned landscape. This is all before you explore the architectural and artistic wonders of the house. The Lascelles family (the Earls of Harewood) have been avid collectors of fine art for over 250 years and most of it is on display for the public.
To keep the children amused there is a fantastic adventure playground, apparently spread over three acres - the kids love it, along with the bird garden, containing of all things penguins and flamingos.
Harewood's enduring appeal is its beauty, the wide range of experiences for young and old, all backed up with a magnificent events calendar.
Locals should take advantage of its membership - the Harewood card - which allows free entry throughout the year making it amazingly good value, the literature claims families can save upto £700 per annum on days out with the card!
Harewood, Leeds LS17 9LG
tel: 0113 218 10 10
Harewood House is 7 miles from Leeds and Harrogate, catch the number 36 bus, which drops outside the gate. Harewood lets you in half price with a valid bus ticket or if you are on a bicycle.
From mid November, the Leeds Christkindelmarkt – set in the splendour of Millennium Square - offers a real alternative to the claustrophobic hustle and bustle of a pre-Christmas high street.
Lanes of garishly decorated wooden chalets stocked full of food, toys, clothes and trinkets provide alternative ideas for that last minute stocking filler. From German sausage and honey to hand crafted wind chimes and children’s toys, the market is an ideal haven for those looking for something a little bit kooky.
It’s at night, however, when the market really comes to life. The twinkling lights, the sound of the vintage carousel and the smell of frankfurters are a delight to the senses, that can’t help but put you in a festive mood.
For a real taste of Germany, end your day in the bierkeller where Oompah bands entertain a lively crowd with their own interpretations of songs written by Hamburg’s adopted sons, The Beatles.
Millennium Square, Leeds
Google map: tinyurl.com/y8q85ok
With comfy sofas, friendly staff and a decadent line in chocolate cake, Kadas in Leeds is definitely a great choice for the late night reveller. Still going strong, after many years in the city, offering Middle Eastern fusion food and a relaxed vibe, Kadas enables the post pub/club go-ers to keep the party going in a less frenetic way. This little piece of Arabian heaven conveniently lives on Crown Street in the centre of the city and stays open until 6am on Friday and Saturday nights. Well worth checking out in the wee hours - there's nothing like a slice of their chocolate or carrot cake to sooth the soul before the trek home after a night out.
3-5 Crown Street, Leeds, LS2 LS2 7DA, 0113 243 3422
Google map: tinyurl.com/yad7pk8
Not only is Hansa's one of the finest Indian restaurants in Leeds (indeed, restaurant of any kind), it is also entirely vegetarian - as much Indian cuisine traditionally is, or in Britain, was at least. The finest ingredients, lovingly prepared, go into making subtle, complex Gujarati dishes, whose flavours can all be made out even in the hottest of dishes. The staff - including Hansa herself - are extremely helpful and friendly, eager to explain the dishes to you, if you need any help after the thorough and interesting menu. A real treasure.
72-74 North St, Leeds, LS2 7PN - a fifteen minute walk from Leeds City Station, or ten from the bus station.
The best scheduled scenic train journey in Yorkshire, and probably England, is the Settle-Carlisle route over the massive but elegant Ribble Viaduct. Setting off from Leeds, the gritty mill towns unfold as the hills rise up, a prelude to the drama of Yorkshires Three Peaks and the panoramic views that motorists, and even walkers, never get. Ingleborough, Pen-y-ghent and finally the very flanks of Great Whernside fill the windows, making an assault on one of them almost irresistable followed by a yorkshire pint at a village pub, perhaps the welcoming Crown at Horton.
Ribblehead, Northern rail on the Leeds Carlisle line, Horton-in-Ribblesdale or Ribblehead for a walk
Alongside all the usual high street culprits, Leeds' compact city centre has a fantastic range of independent boutiques that really set it apart from many other shopping destinations. While long-time bastion of alternative and independent retailing, the Corn Exchange, is now being transformed into a luxury food emporium (there are a clutch of tempting little foodie stores in the intimate basement level), the surrounding streets of the Exchange Quarter are thriving. Blue Rinse, on Call Lane, is an old stalwart of Leeds retail and continues to be one of the best, and most reasonably priced vintage shops in the area. Newcomer Best Vintage, round the corner on New Market St really does what it says on the packet, with high quality and interesting pieces. Next door is fantastic organic minimarket Out of this World, and one of England's four fabulous Pop Boutiques selling bargain priced retro-style fashions (both new and vintage) is diagonally opposite on Central Road. Along Duncan St-Boar Lane from the Corn Exchange are several independent stores including ever popular streetwear shop Ace and poster/wall art mecca Off the Wall, amongst others. While down Lower Briggate is one of the city's biggest vintage emporia, Ryan Vintage, crammed to the ceilings with one-off finds.
Further up Briggate, opposite the opulence of the Victoria Quarter, are Queen's and Thornton's Arcades. They might not be as spectacular as their designer-filled counterparts across the street, but are still lovely examples of Victorian architecture offering rain-free environments in which to explore a wealth of mainly independent shops (and several high-end hair salons). Accent, award-winning White Label Clothing, Sugar Lump and No15 Boutique are amongst the many treasures to be had here. A personal favourite - though not really a shop - is Pickle & Potter, a delicatessen and café that not only offers a huge and mouth-watering selection of sandwich fillings but is home to what many - myself included - hold to be not only Leeds' but the world's best chocolate brownies.
If you tire of the hustle and bustle of the city centre but aren't quite done scouring the indie boutiques, a twenty minute walk (or 5-10 minute bus) journey away up Woodhouse Lane is Hyde Park Corner. Here you will find a small but brilliant clutch of stores and eateries, including vintage couture and evening wear at the Final Curtain, and best of all, the temple of vintage and antique treasures that is Retro Boutique. Two floors of clothes, jewellery, furniture, antiques and anything else you can imagine, immaculately laid out so that it ressembles something between a home you wish was yours and Aladdin's Cave, Retro Boutique is perhaps the zenith of Leeds' independent shopping experience, yet somehow is never as crowded as you might imagine.
All over Leeds city centre, particularly around the Corn Exchange (Call Lane) and Queen's and Thornton's Arcades, between Briggate and Lands Lane; Hyde Park Corner is at Woodhouse Lane/Headingley Lane, a mile and a half north-west of the city centre. Bus no1, 28, 95, 96, 97.
The Victoria Quarter is, quite simply, probably the most beautiful shopping area in the whole of the United Kingdom. It is only small, but it crams almost one hundred stores into its stunning arcades and elegant King Edward Street frontage. The North's premier luxury shopping destination, the Victoria Quarter is home to designer boutiques from Vivienne Westwood, Paul Smith and Louis Vuitton alongside exclusive branches of stores like Arrogant Cat not found elsewhere outside of London, as well as jewellers, chocolatiers, popular high-end chains such as Reiss and All Saints, and famously, the first Harvey Nichols outside London. If the fantastic range of shops isn't enough to tempt you, the gorgeous architecture makes the Victoria Quarter unique. County Arcade is a sumptuous Victorian feast for the eyes in gilt and marble, while the airy atrium of Queen Victoria Arcade is home to the largest stained-glass ceiling in Europe. Immaculate shop fronts and striking window displays lend further elegance to the Quarter. Sheltered from the northern weather, you can indulge yourself year-round in indoor retail therapy without the soulless clone atmosphere of modern shopping malls. And there are a clutch of fantastic cafés located in the centre for when it all gets too much. It really is luxury retail heaven and makes a trip to Leeds a must for any shopper all by itself.
Victoria Quarter, between Briggate and Vicar Lane in Leeds City Centre. A ten minute walk from train and bus stations.
One of the largest urban parks in Europe, the verdant expanses of Roundhay Park offers a huge range of different surroundings, all of which are a world away from the bustle of the city centre, only five miles away. Fields, forests, lakes and golf courses cover much of the parkland, but there are also many beautifully landscaped gardens, especially on the other side of Princes Avenue from the park proper. Canal Gardens with its crocus fields, scented borders and water features, is a great place to stop and pause. Next to it is Tropical World, a menagerie of rare animal and plant species in simulated habitats ranging from desert to Amazonian rainforest - always popular with children. The Roundhay Fox pub, situated in the middle of the park, is a lovely traditional pub with fantastic outdoor terrace, and there is a good range of dining options and shops both in the centre of Roundhay, and at the southern end of the park in Oakwood. There are also frequent events in the park in summer, particularly the ever-popular Indian delights of the Leeds Mela.
Roundhay Park, Princes Avenue, Roundhay, Leeds, LS8. Bus no2 or 13 from the city centre (New Briggate/Vicar Lane).
A lively little neighbourhood three miles north of the city centre, Chapel Allerton is about as close to a continental drinking and dining experience as you'll get in the north of England and is home to a clutch of the region's finest restaurants. Clustered around the junction of Stainbeck Lane and Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton may not be possessed of the beauty of a French square or Italian piazza but come on a summer's evening and find a lively, friendly buzz without the sense of underlying tension and atmosphere of total drunkeness that most of Britain's drinking districts entail. The restaurants and bars spill out onto the pavements, many with heated or covered seating areas, nestling in between a range of small independent shops that make a daytime trip a pleasant diversion from the bustle of central Leeds. Some of Chapel Allerton's more renowned restaurants include the much-lauded Sukhothai, held by many to be one of the country's finest Thai restaurants, a branch of Leeds' greek Olive Tree restaurant, Sami's North African cuisine, and two Casa Mias, the original, cheaper, trattoria-style eatery with a range of light Italian meals and sumptuous desserts and Casa Mia Grande, a high-end, high-quality Italian dining establishment that is among Leeds' best restaurants. As for drinking, traditional pubs like the Regent compete for your custom with quirky bars like Further North and quality cocktails at the Hub, Zed and Angels Share, amongst many others
Chapel Allerton, north Leeds, take the no2 or 3 bus from various points in the city centre.
Dough is a restaurant in the leafy suburbs of Leeds. It has gone from strength to strength and is now considered among many Leeds diners to be one of the best restaurants in the county! It's small and intimate but this Parisian style bistro creates a fantastic atmosphere. The service is superb and laid-back. The food, however, is what really does the talking, with menus that change on every visit, food sourced only from the local region - apparently the chef has his own allotment that he uses produce from! As well as the quality of the food, the fact they allow customers to 'bring their own' while remaining fully licensed is a revelation in the industry, proving that not all businesses are just out to make a quick buck!
Address is 293 Spen Lane, Headingley, Leeds, LS16 5BD. Tel 0113 2787255. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Nearest station is Headingley I presume.
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