Adel, Bramhope and Otley The northern outskirts of Leeds have escaped the ravages of Victorian over-development with villages such as Adel and Bramhope being amongst the city's most sought-after residential areas. Golden Acre Park and
Armley and Pudsey Although part of the Metropolitan City of Leeds since the mid-1970's, Pudsey has a proud history as a separate entity—the recipient of a Royal Charter of Incorporation in 1900, which distinguished it from the metropolitan sprawls of Leeds and Bradford. Pudsey's Owlcoates Centre is an impressive retail park serving the entire area west of the city. Neighbouring Armley is probably best known for
Beeston, Middleton and Morley Once the industrial heartland of the city, harnessing the River Aire and the Aire and Calder Navigation, this area to the south of the city mirrored the slow decline of commercial waterways from the 1920s. However, the presence of the
Burmantofts, Harehills and Osmondthorpe Once famous for its unique pottery, Burmantofts is now best known for Jimmy's, otherwise known as St. James' University Hospital. It is one of the country's premier teaching hospitals. Next door is the award-winning
Chapeltown, Moortown and Roundhay These northern districts of the city are known for their multicultural communities and character. Chapeltown has found it hard to shake off negative connotations derived from its ramshackle appearance, but is famous for its annual West Indian carnival, a spectacle to rival the Notting Hill Carnival in London. Moortown is synonymous with its Jewish community and boasts a fine selection of specialist shops and cafes. The Synagogue of the United Hebrew Congregation is in nearby Shadwell. Roundhay is another of the city's most desirable residential areas, due in no short measure to the proximity of Roundhay Park.
City Centre The fact that it is a pleasure to wander around the largely pedestrianised city centre is due to the Victorian town planners whose network of elegant arcades and formidable municipal buildings still affirm its position as a leading centre of commerce, culture and the arts. Leeds is probably the premier shopping centre of the north—the Corn Exchange and
Cross Gates, Halton and Seacroft These areas east of the city centre are yet to benefit from the inspired regeneration programmes that have revived other areas of the city. The turn-of-the-century hospital at Seacroft stands out, but the Halton Moor housing estate cannot seem to shake off its negative associations and remains an infamous no-go area. However, nearby
Guiseley, Rawdon and Yeadon This area is sufficiently remote from the city centre, (about 10 miles), to offer some charming countryside walks. However, it has to be said the main draws are probably Leeds Bradford Airport and the famous
Headingley Familiar to followers of cricket and Rugby League alike, this bustling area is home to the famous Yorkshire CCC and
Hyde Park and Woodhouse Hyde Park and Woodhouse are the venues of too many conspicuously rundown student residences to be highly praised. However,
Kirkstall, Horsforth and Calverley Although its 12th century Cistercian abbey is an historical site of national significance, Kirkstall has become the focus of more contemporary interests since the recent opening (at a discreet distance) of the
Leeds had established itself as an important centre of industry and commerce long before Royal Charter granted city status in 1893. In the eighth century, Bede referred to Loidis, as it was then known, in his Ecclesiastical History, and 300 years later the town merited a mention in the Domesday Book. It was not until the 17th and 18th centuries, however, that Leeds became a prosperous market town. Close to rivers, roads and the sheep farming area of the dales, Leeds was perfectly placed to engage in the manufacture and trade of cloth. Later developments, such as the Middleton Colliery Railway in 1758—the world's first commercial railway—and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal in 1770, catapulted Leeds into one of the country's premier industrial centres.
This newly found status came at a heavy price. Industrialisation brought overcrowding, inadequate drainage and poor ventilation. Conditions in the yards off Briggate and Kirkgate were particularly squalid and a veritable breeding ground for life-threatening diseases like cholera and typhus. Charles Dickens once remarked that Leeds was “the beastliest place, one of the nastiest I know”. Still, it was not all dirt, dust and disease. Financially, the town was burgeoning and this was reflected in its fine public buildings—such as the Italianate Post Office and the imposing library—the University and ornate shopping arcades. Not forgetting the majestic Town Hall which was opened in 1858 by Queen Victoria. These buildings continue to contribute to the city centre's distinctive character in the present day.
Leeds' fortunes dwindled somewhat in the first half of the 20th century and many mills, factories and industrial premises were derelict, seemingly forgotten forever more. Not that Leeds stood still. In the inter-war period the Civic Hall and Queen's Hotel were opened, The Headrow was redeveloped and new office blocks were built. Despite this, Leeds had the air of a once-great city that was teetering on the brink of decline. Thankfully an innovative strategy of city centre regeneration has prevented this from happening. Since the mid-1980s, the long-forgotten industrial areas have been given a new lease of life as housing, leisure and commercial developments.
Nowhere is this more visible than Leeds Waterfront, once the hub of Victorian commerce, now the home of the Royal Armouries Museum and Granary Wharf, as the city embraces tourism. The splendid Corn Exchange and elegant Victoria Quarter shopping areas play host to a diversity of retailers; including Harvey Nichols Department Store, its first venture outside London.
In recent times, Leeds has become the second home to the UK's banking and legal sectors. Shiny, new cafe-bars, restaurants, clubs, gyms and leisure facilities have sprung up quickly as a result, with lots more lined up. The anxiously awaited Leeds Light complex promises to be a real hit with shoppers, gastronomes and culture vultures alike. The West Yorkshire Playhouse, City Art Gallery and adjoining Henry Moore Institute are major cultural landmarks that have earned themselves an enviable national reputation.
Sport too has benefited from Leeds' rebirth. Following its success in hosting group matches during the Euro 1996 Championships, Elland Road, the home of Leeds United FC, has become one of England's key football stadium. A similar story is to be found in Headingley, where neighbouring sports grounds regularly host international test matches in cricket and Rugby League.
Leeds' position as one of the UK's top cities was confirmed by the recent visit of Nelson Mandela. The former South African President received a typically warm Yorkshire welcome when he visited the city to open Millennium Square, a brand new public space, which is set to host a series of concerts and performances from the likes of Mel C, Bjorn Again and Russell Watson.
The rise, fall and rebirth of Leeds is a fascinating story that proves the amazing capacity of this city to reinvent itself. One thing is for sure; the future looks very bright indeed for the North's top city.
Leeds is one of the most cosmopolitan and regenerative cities in the UK, attracting investment and tourists from around the world. There is a superlative choice of hotels and guesthouse Leeds is one of the most cosmopolitan and regenerative cities in the UK, attracting investment and tourists from around the world. There is a superlative choice of hotels and guesthouses to meet these demands; from the very expensive to the very inexpensive; for the businessperson and for the tourist. There is a place in Leeds to suit everyone.
Inexpensive: For those wanting to be in the thick of things, there is an excellent selection of inexpensive hotels. On New Briggate, the aptly titled City Centre Hotel, offers a family environment and a night porter. On the same road you might want to try the Central Hotel which caters for families and individual travellers. Briggate and New Briggate form the backbone of Leeds' shopping district. The road itself, leading up from the River Aire and Bridge End, has always been the shopping spine of Leeds—as far back as 1207.
The university area is located close to the city centre. During the Easter and summer holidays, at a very competitive price, the University of Leeds opens its accommodation and business facilities, offering single bedrooms and self-catering flats. Many other hotels might be found in the university and hospital area. The buildings in this area are noted particularly for their architectural splendour. Many originate from the Victorian and later Georgian period.
To avoid the hustle and bustle, try the price busting Accommodation Centre, only two miles from the city centre. Six miles from the city and open between July and September, you'll find Trinity and All Saints University College, close to Leeds Bradford Airport and situated in a beautiful green belt area. For those seeking a strict non-smoking environment, and where price is still a factor, try Wheelgate Guest House in Sherburn-in-Elmet, 12 miles out of the city center, but adequately compensated by public houses and restaurants. Elmet once spanned the land of Yorkshire, with a king ruling over it, fighting many battles against invaders from the South and North. Leeds (or Loidis) is thought to have once been the capital of that kingdom. The village retains its identity in a vast rural landscape.
Moderate: The cream of the moderately priced hotels in Leeds skirt two to three miles around the city. Headingley is the hotel capital of Leeds, particularly within this price bracket, and is well geared towards families, students and business travellers. Gargantuan buildings made of old red brick, homes and otherwise, are a common feature of the Headingley landscape and indicate the past wealth of the area. The Cliff Lawn Hotel offers a games room and private gardens. In the same area you might want to try Trafford House and Budapest Hotel, comprised of three Victorian buildings, where the prices and facilities will appeal to many. Also on Cardigan Road, especially convenient for Headingley Cricket Ground, is St Michael's Tower. This family-run hotel offers excellent bar and restaurant facilities and is less than two miles from the city, making the trip back into the centre for alternative refreshments a quick journey—and a cheap one if returning by taxi after a night of celebration!
Another good area for moderately priced hotels is Roundhay. With a huge park in the area, its lake, fields, gardens, and a plethora of nearby sites to see, Roundhay is always popular with families and business travellers. The park itself is frequently home to festivals, carnivals and concerts. The Merevale Hotel is located in a conservation area within easy reach of Roundhay Park and offers excellent services and facilities. Alternatively, try the Ash Mount Hotel, situated only minutes away from the big park. Both have easy access back onto the city ring road, which skirts Leeds. You could also try Aragon Hotel in Meanwood. This recently converted Victorian mansion will be more attractive to individuals and couples, as there are only two family rooms on offer.
Expensive: For tourists, cricket lovers, and business travellers wishing to avoid the city centre, but still remain within easy access, Headingley's Village Hotel and Leisure Club is a splendid choice. Built in 1996, it offers all the facilities of a very expensive hotel—spa, swimming pool, squash courts and sauna—but at a relatively competitive price. Its location also makes it popular for parents making weekend trips to see children in the nearby universities. For those of you who wish to avoid staying in the city centre at all costs but still want benefit from the city's major attractions, try the Courtyard by Marriott in Tong. Midway between the centres of Leeds and Bradford, its location offers tranquility, but is only minutes away from nearly all of the major motorways to and from Leeds.
Very Expensive: Many of Leeds' most expensive hotels are based on the perimeter of the city, such as the Wood Hall Hotel near Wetherby that boasts 100 acres of ground and enough facilities to challenge the most energetic of guests. Only 12 miles from the city centre, it is a perfect gateway to the beautiful landscapes, which typify Yorkshire. Marriott Hollins Hall Hotel and Country Club requires the vastness of the Baildon Moors to accommodate it. Technically in Bradford, but only 15 minutes from Leeds on the A65, the establishment offers magnificent facilities, including an 18-hole golf course on 200 acres of ground.
For some, however, concrete and fun is more soothing than grass and leisure. If you want doorstep access to a plethora of entertainment from the most luxurious, aesthetically pleasing of buildings, try The Queen's Hotel, next to the city train station. "The Queen's" looks down on City Square and up towards the business district. With a price structure that will appeal to many, the building is noted particularly for its elegance, interior design and architecture. The Marriott Hotel is of a similar grandeur and prime location. It offers excellent facilities and is ideal for those wishing to shop, dine or drink in the city. There is also the The Merrion, offering quick access to the cultural venues on The Headrow and the nearby universities.
Leeds city centre boasts an excellent range of drinking and dining establishments to suit all palates and pockets.
Dining Gastronomes could head straight for either of the city's two Michelin-starred restaurants; Pool Court at 42 or Rascasse. Other fine dining establishments include Leodis, Harvey Nichols Fourth Floor, Sous Le Nez en Ville and Brasserie 44 (neighbour to Pool Court at 42).
A wealth of outstanding, slightly less formal restaurants are scattered across the city. Delicious Mediterranean/British food can be had in and around the Exchange Quarter at Brigg Shots, Calls Grill, Shear's Yard, Art's Café, Oporto and Velvet. According to The Sunday Times, The Cactus Lounge, next to the West Yorkshire Playhouse, is one of the country's top four Mexican restaurants. For fine French food and wine, visit the subterranean La Grillade. Quality Italian food is served at The Italian Job and the long running Bibi's. Shabab and Darbar both serve good Indian cuisine. Chinese, Thai and Japanese restaurants are mainly clustered around the Grand Theatre and at the top of Vicar Lane. Try Canton Flavour, off The Headrow, for lunch with a difference.
Excellent cafe-bars are to be found all over Leeds. Try Moderno, Metz, Cuban Heels, The Elbow Room, Revolution, Milo or Norman—all in and around the Exchange Quarter. Chain outlets, such as All Bar One, Bar 38, Henry's and Parisa are clustered around The Headrow and in the financial quarter. Soul Kitchen, also in the financial quarter, deserves a special mention. Café Rouge, Est, Est, Est have branches in the city. There are two branches of Pizza Express. Unlicensed eateries, such as Roots and Fruits and Kada's are of excellent quality.
In the outlying areas of Leeds, visit Citrus Café in Headingley or Grove Café in Hyde Park, both unlicensed. The Ferret Hall Bistro in Headingley serves quality English food. On the city's outskirts, close to the BBC and the University, Strawberry Fields serves delicious wholesome food and has a good choice for vegetarians. For Italian, The Flying Pizza in Roundhay and Salvo's in Headingley are both popular, long-running establishments well worth a visit. Leaving the city via Kirkstall Road, you will find TGI Friday's, Frankie & Benny's and Quincey's. Tariq's and Nafee's serve up the customary curries in student land.
Drinking Bar life in Leeds is booming. There are distinct areas to the city and if you follow this guide, you can't go far wrong:
The area around the Corn Exchange, known as the Exchange Quarter, is filled with great bars. Choose from Metz, Milo, The Townhouse, Po Na Na, Pitcher and Piano, Fudge, Cuban Heels, Oporto, Velvet, Norman, Moderno, Art's Café, Revolution, Café Junction, The Elbow Room, Hakuna Matata, Break for the Border and Dimitri's. Call Lane should form the backbone of your bar crawl. Several bars now have late licenses - Revolution, Norman and The Townhouse. Clubbers should head for Think Tank, Po Na Na or The Elbow Room. Many of these places are chameleon-like changing from sedate cafe-bars, to thriving evening quality drinking establishments.
Travel away from the Exchange Quarter up Boar Lane. Bars like Yates' Wine Lodge, Square on the Lane, Observatory and Bar Censsa line the route. After this, you can head up to Majestyk or Jumpin' Jacks for a dance, a kebab and an early morning fight for a cab. Head up Park Row away from City Square and you're deep in the financial district. There are bars and restaurants here that will keep you amused enough. Parisa, The Firehouse, The Old Monk, All Bar One and O'Neill's are all on or around Park Row or East Parade. In The Headrow area, try Empire, LS One, Bar 38, or The Slug and Lettuce. There are more pubs and bars clustered around the Civic Hall and library.
Go down The Headrow, towards Eastgate, turning off at the Odeon cinema. Lovers of quality independent bars, you're back on safe ground now. Try North, the fantastic Mojo, Le Beatrute, The Atrium—another bar with late license and club. The Mint Club (home of Basics on Saturday night) is on Harrison Street and Club Heaven and Hell is opposite The Atrium. So, there's plenty of quality dining, drinking and dancing to be done in the city. Head for the area that most suits your taste. There are other hidden gems around the city like The Wardrobe, Whitelocks and Joseph's Well.