For the eagle eyed of you, you will have noticed the blog posts a little slow of late. A combination of concentrating hard on my digital marketing biz and not reeeeally going anywhere, apart from the odd night out. But this week I had the opportunity to spend 24 hours in Leeds to check out a pretty cool hotel that’s recently opened, and even though Leeds may not seem very exotic, I jumped at the chance to sleep in a deliciously luxurious bed, (the ones that you just sink into are the best) and rediscover this gem of a northern city.
I have fond memories of Leeds, my sister went to Uni there and I used to love visiting for the weekend. I would frequently jump on the cheapest train going from Newcastle and arrive all wide-eyed in this uber cool city. I thought I was so grown up hanging round with all her arty mates, eating falafel in little cafes in studenty Headingly, and drinking cheap pints of cider and black.
Although there is still a thriving alternative scene in Leeds, it’s not quite the grimy post-industrial northern city a lot of people imagine when they think of it, , far from it! This week I spent 24 hours in Leeds city centre and set out to explore the new high-end shopping and entertainment destination the city has become.
Leeds is truly a shopping lovers dream, gleaming new malls sit side by side with old Victorian shopping Arcades. You will find all the usually high street shops, plus designer stores and quaint independent places too.
Trinity Centre – my first stop of the day, and just a 2-minute walk from my hotel. A semi open-air mall with all the usual high street shops (Next, M&S, Boots) plus restaurants and bars and an Everyman cinema. They also have an international street food style food court. Dynamo was doing a book signing when I was there and it was bedlam, so on to the next place.
Victoria Quarter – out of the other side of the Trinity Centre and a short walk up the high street is this beautiful glass and red brick arcade that houses Harvey Nichols daaaaaaling. The make up and beauty range in Harvey Nic’s is amazing and I always have to go to the alcohol department to look at the huge variety of very expensive champagnes and spirits. There is a champagne bar on the top level at the one in Leeds if you need a little refresher after a hard days shopping. But as I’d not even had breakfast that morning I decided that probably wasn’t wise and pushed on.
Victoria Gate – If you walk all the way through Victoria Quarter, out the other side is shiny brand spanking new Victoria Gate. Filled with high-end shops, a casino and a couple of rooftop bars it almost had that fresh out of the box smell.
The Corn Exchange – This is somewhere I used to hang around with my sister and all her arty mates. It’s a stunning building filled with quirky little independent shops, cafes and hair salons/barbers. Very cool although not quite as buzzing as I remember, then again my memory of it might be a little hazy being a few (ahem) many years ago!
Arcades – The city centre is littered with these super cute Victorian Arcades, just keep your eyes peeled!
Where I ate
Brunch – Le Pain Quotidien, Victoria Gate
I’ve never been a fan of early morning eating; I mean coffee is essential but brekki nah. I’m much more of a lunch/brunch kinda person. So after a couple of hours of hard-core shopping I stumbled across this Belgian style café housed in the brand spanking new shopping mall, Victoria Gate. I’ve been to a couple of their outlets in London before so knew it would be tasty and I was definitely in the mood for really good bread and coffee. They do these open sandwiches called Tartines, and I had one with smoked chicken, egg, chorizo, and my absolute obsession avocado. It was DELICIOUS! They do incredible pastries too, but as I knew I would want coffee and a sweet treat later in the afternoon I held back.
Coffee & Cake – Fettle Café, George Street
I wish I could have made it here earlier in the day, as their breakfast/brunches are legendary. However I’m so glad I made it for afternoon coffee and cake. I judge every café by how well they can make a flat white because so many get it so wrong, yes, I’m unapologetically a coffee snob. Fettle Café didn’t disappoint though, the coffee was excellent and after perusing all the yummy looking cakes and bickies on their counter I plumped for a salted caramel brownie, which was sheer heaven in my mouth and TOTALLY worth the calories.
Dinner – Ox Club, Headrow House
On my way into Leeds I browsed through the 2018 Michelin Guide online to see if anything new/interesting grabbed my attention. I wasn’t particularly up for anything too formal, it was going to be pretty late after all, but I did want somewhere that took their food offering seriously. Ox Club definitely fit the bill
relaxed, but stylish restaurant down a little cobbled lane.
As soon as we sat down I knew we were in for a treat, a big tray of really good sourdough bread arrived with a bowl of chicken schmaltz to dip the bread into. It was like liquid Sunday roast and set our taste buds up for what was to come next. A selection of barbequed meat, fish and vegetables with a nod to American BBQ food, but much more refined, it still packed those punchy smoky flavours. All washed down with some excellent red wine I’d say we were happier than a couple of pigs in shit, and just as full. This place is worth making the trip to Leeds alone!
Where I stayed
I arrived for my 24 hours in Leeds in the evening and checked straight into Dakota, a brand new luxury hotel on Russell Street, just a 5-minute walk from the train station and surrounded by great places to eat and drink.
It’s an incredibly stylish hotel, all dark muted tones, beautiful furniture and sumptuous fabrics. I just about melted into the bed in my room and didn’t want to get up again.
I really enjoyed my 24 hours in Leeds; it was a fun trip down memory lane and really whet my appetite for a longer visit some time.
I’m not long back from Lindisfarne Festival, a brilliant 3-day end of summer blow out party on Beal Farm in Northumberland. It felt great to squeeze in a last HURRAH of the year in our old VW campervan, which was stranded down in Bristol for most of the summer after Glastonbury Festival… that’s a story for another day. However, with the campervan back in our possession we couldn’t wait to go festivalling again, and what an amazing festival it was!
The bar scene in Newcastle is fast moving and there are some fabulous new additions. So, if you’re heading to the Toon for the up-coming bank holidays, I’ve put together a handy list of some of the best bars in Newcastle, with something to appeal to everyone.
While sorting through my photos this week it suddenly occurred to me that I had NEVER written about The Gili Islands in Indonesia on my blog!! Or more specifically, Gili Air, one of the islands closest to the big island of Lombok. I’m actually amazed, because it is by...