The cultural hub of West Yorkshire is rapidly growing and changing. Often neglected in favour of it’s Northern neighbours, here’s our case for a trip to Leeds.
Casually housed in what was formerly the Leeds City Tramways Office, Malmaison’s boutique West Yorkshire outpost contains 100 rooms spread over five floors. The hotel is smack bang in the city centre and the cocktail bar, Chez Mal Bar, is open until 1am. A perfect way to end or begin your night, depending on the vibe.
Gallery: Henry Moore Institute
Sculptor Henry Moore, born and bred in nearby Castleford, studied at Leeds School of Art (now Leeds Art University). The Henry Moore institute was opened in 1993 as part of Moore’s own foundation, and now runs family workshops and art socials alongside fascinating regular exhibitions.
Bar: Outlaws Yacht Club
Expect the weird and wonderful (but maybe not people who own yachts) at Outlaws Yacht Club. This open plan bar has an exhibition space and record shop, plus an extensive choice of vintage board games. Oh and there’s 2-4-1 Bloody Marys on Sundays. Need we say more?
Cafe: Temple Coffee & Donuts
Temple Coffee & Donuts might sit on an industrial estate slightly out of the city centre, but it’s close to the Viaduct Showbar, a popular cabaret spot. We’re not sending you out to the sticks. The coffee is delicious and the donuts are made in a vegan bakery called Porky’s Bakehouse. Also check out the cool merch.
Museum: Royal Armouries
Opened in 1996, the Royal Armouries museum offers a fascinating and disturbing look into the history of war. Highlights include the Oriental Gallery which displays a kabuto (helmet) and mempo (mask) of an armour suit, given as a diplomatic gift from Tokugawa Hidetada to King James VI and I (of Scotland and England, respectively) in 1613. British children remember this place as a non-boring school trip.
Snacks: The Reliance
If you’re feeling snacky, check out The Reliance for the unbelievably tasty charcuterie – handmade in-house by the chefs. Or if you find yourself there on a Sunday, you’ve got to have the Sunday roast – mainly to experience the delight of an authentic Yorkshire pudding. Which you should cover in gravy, like a true Northener.
Wire is loved by locals. Its an intimate basement space (but not in an overly sweaty way) that regularly welcomes top notch talent. It’s best known for dance music but you can expect a lot of indie and rock, too. Just before Covid-19 locked the city down, they’d welcomed Ben UFO, Jane Fitz and Daniel Avery into their space.
Market: Leeds Corn Exchange
Known by many as a great spot to hang out, the Corn Exchange is filled with quirky, independent little shops. Perfect for whiling away an afternoon. It’s also worth a visit just to check out the architecture of the domed roof inside which was based on the Bourse de commerce of Paris – the building itself was completed in 1863 and is a grade I listed building.
Street food: Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen
Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen houses two different street food vendors – Dough Boys pizza and The Patty Smith’s Burger Co. Take your pick. Or – have one, walk it off, come back for the other?