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Leeds City Guide
One of the North's industrial powerhouses, Leeds came of age during the boom and bustle of the Industrial Revolution. From its humble origins as a Roman settlement and a medieval trading post, Leeds grew to a metropolis, flush with cash and eager to impress its status on the rest of Britain and the world. Today, Leeds boasts amazing Victorian architecture, the legacy of that brash civic pride, as well as world-class museums, shopping and other attractions.
Leeds is famed for its 19th-century architecture, most of which is in the pedestrianised city centre. The Town Hall, built between 1853 and 1858, has been called an example of “Northern civic bombast,” an expression of the city's Victorian prosperity and power.
The Town Hall plays host to concerts, performances and special exhibitions throughout the year. Also unmissable is St Anne's Catholic Cathedral, a beautiful expression of the 19th-century Arts and Crafts style. Another Victorian landmark is the Corn Exchange, the elliptical glass-domed shopping centre that stands at the heart of the quirky, vibrant Exchange quarter.
Leeds's most famous museum is the Royal Armouries Museum, located at Clarence Dock. This massive collection includes over 8,000 weapons and pieces of armour, from swords and maces to rifles and machine guns. The highlight of the collection is the stunning elephant armour, an intricate system of chain mail and metal plates that would have turned the animal into a monstrous medieval tank.
In the heart of the city, Leeds City Museum features free exhibits on world and local history, with exhibits ranging from Egyptian mummies to representations of Leeds's modern, diverse culture. The Art Gallery and Henry Moore Institute bring the best of art from around the world into the centre of Leeds – the Moore Institute focuses on sculpture in particular.
Dining and nightlife
You don't have to spend a lot to eat well in Leeds. You can if you want to, of course – Michelin-starred Anthonys in the city centre is among the city's best restaurants, and also one of the most popular. Be sure to book ahead. At the lower end of the price range, though, Leeds offers a bewildering diversity of different styles, from American pizza and burgers at the Belgrave Music Hall to North African delicacies at Cafe Moor in Kirkgate Market. A local favourite is the Greedy Pig, which adds sophisticated modern touches to the traditional fry-up. Don't let the presence of Spam baps on the menu fool you; this is a serious approach to the familiar bacon roll.
Leeds has a large and diverse night life, driven by the student population of its two universities, but thankfully not every bar is a deafening student hangout. The areas around Call Lane in the Exchange quarter are home to stylish bars, while the region around Briggate is a bustling centre of bars and clubs. One bar in this area, North Bar, was named the best place to drink in Britain by The Observer.
Summer is when Leeds comes fully to life, with annual festivals such as the Waterfront Festival, which sees boats swarm the water around Armouries Square. A hotly-contested Dragon Boat race is the highlight of the festival. Late May and early June are also the time for the annual food festival, which attracts gourmets from all across the country. Perhaps the most famous of the city's festivals is the International Concert Season, which runs throughout the summer, with over 200 events in venues all around the city.
History lovers will enjoy the special events hosted at the Royal Armouries, where trained experts recreate medieval life and warfare, including jousting, hawking, the proper use of plate armour and hand-to-hand combat.
Where to stay
Leeds hotels range from the luxurious but pricey to the more affordable. The stunning Portland stone art deco facade of the Queens Hotel is a major city landmark. Other notable hotels in Leeds include 42 The Calls, a boutique hotel located near the Exchange Quarter.
Not every hotel in Leeds is a historic luxury building. There are good budget ones as well. For instance, the Express by Holiday Inn Armouries provides budget accommodation at Clarence Dock, moments from the Royal Armouries Museum and a short walk from the city centre. This area, once neglected, has undergone major renovation, with new buildings springing up along the banks of the canals that once brought coal to fuel the city's industrial heart.
When to visit
A visit to Leeds in autumn or winter is a good idea, as long as you don't mind some rain and cold weather. A better time to visit is from late spring to late summer. Summers in Leeds are mild and typically dry, with highs averaging around 21 C (about 70 F) during the hottest months of the year. May and September are also good times to visit.
Leeds Bradford International Airport is mainly a destination for local flights, with few long hauls. However, it's relatively easy to get there from around the world by changing at Amsterdam.
Additionally, Leeds is easy to reach by train – around two to three hours from London's King's Cross station – or by car.
Recently Rated Leeds Hotels
|Jurys Inn Leeds||
4.2 / 526 reviews
|Britannia Hotel Leeds Bradford Airport||
2.7 / 56 reviews
|Holiday Inn Express LEEDS - EAST||
4.0 / 5
|Park Plaza Leeds||
3.8 / 58 reviews
|Leeds Marriott Hotel||
4.6 / 514 reviews
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Featured Leeds Hotels
Advance Purchase Rates
Contemporary hotel with fitness centre on Brewery Wharf in LeedsThe Jurys Inn Leeds hotel is ideally located on the Brewery Wharf in a newly developed area of Leeds city centre, and offers guests...
roaming in the dark
4 Trevelyan Square, Boar Lane
Rate includes breakfast
Luxury four-star city centre hotel with indoor swimming poolThis four-star hotel more than holds its own amid strong competition. The Leeds Marriott is decorated to an exceptionally high standard...
No. 1 The Light, The Headrow
Grade II listed building in the city centre. 147 luxurious guest rooms in 3 styles (High Tech, Art Deco, Italian). Lounge and bar offering genuine hospitality and upscale food and beverage. Hotel...
Perfectly located hotel for your business or leisure break in LeedsWith easy access to the motorways, train station and airport, Bewley’s Hotel Leeds is located close to Leeds city centre. For...
Wouldn't stay there again
Granary Wharf, 2 Wharf Approach
Signature chocolate chip cookie at check-in
Award-winning hotel located in Leeds City centerFeaturing contemporary accommodations and top-notch facilities, DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Leeds City Centre makes for an ideal base for business...
Perfect for both the leisure visitor and the business guest, the Discovery Inn Leeds is perfectly located right in the center of Leeds. Not only is the Discovery Inn Leeds close to the main railway...
4 Whitehall quay
Rate includes Breakfast
Inviting hotel with up-to-date facilities and central locationTravellers visiting the city of Leeds find convenient base at the centrally located accommodations of Novotel Leeds Centre. This cozy...
Good hotel, well located
Cavendish Street,(Off Kirkstall Road)
Enjoy high quality accommodation with our budget-friendly Holiday Inn Express hotel in Leeds City Centre. Youll only have a 10-minute stroll to reach the lively street of Leeds city centre. You can...
Boar Lane City Square
Save 10% on your stay
Modish four-star hotel perfect for exploring LeedsPark Plaza Leeds is a stylish four-star hotel occupying one of the best locations in Leeds. On top of the town centre, despite the many amenities...
Night in Leeds
Okay, but expected more
Gateway Apartments are half a mile from Leeds city centre, Gateway offers 4-star luxury apartments with private parking.
Armouries Drive,Clarence Dock
Make the Holiday Inn Express Leeds City Centre-Armouries hotel your base for events in the Royal Armouries centre. Our modern 5-storey hotel is in a peaceful location overlooking a canal, right...
Family Get together
42 The Calls
42 The Calls Hotel is located on the edge of the River Aire, in a vibrant area of the city of Leeds. The Calls is fast becoming one of the most stylish and trendy parts of the city. The hotel was...
The Merrion Centre
Explore Leeds with ease from this hotel set in the heart of the cityWith contemporary units and convenient amenities ideally positioned in the heart of Leeds, The Merrion Hotel makes for a...
Set in the vibrant heart of the city, Hilton Leeds City Hotel is steps from Leeds Central railway station, minutes from the M62 and less than 25 minutes from Leeds Bradford International Airport...
Well established four-star hotel in Leeds City Centre This smart four-star hotel has long been a feature of Leeds' cityscape. A popular choice because of its location slap-bang in the middle of the...
Girlie night out
Millgreen View Ring Road
Retreat to Leeds and relax in modern, yet traditional luxuryHidden in the beautiful landscape of West Yorkshire, the Britannia Leeds Hotel offers the perfect blend of homely and welcoming...
Horses for Courses
Duty staff were very rude
Leeds Road, Bramhope, Leeds
Book in advance and SAVE
The attractively furnished 160 en-suite bedrooms have Trouser Press, Hairdryer, TV, Telephone and Tea & Coffee making facilities. The dedicated Business Centre offers modern function and...
Laid back Leeds
in need of updating
1150 Century Way
Book in advance and SAVE 10 GBP
Leeds is one of the North's most cosmopolitan cities. Thorpe Park is just a stone's throw from the best it has to offer - great shopping, vibrant nightlife and nearby, Harrogate, York and The Dales...
Choose the inviting Holiday Inn Leeds-Garforth hotel, set in a rural location just minutes from the M1 and Leeds city centre. Colourful blooms in our landscaped gardens brighten your arrival at...
Great staff - booking process not quite right
Built around a 17th Century Manor House, Weetwood Hall Hotel in Leeds is set amidst a 9-acre parkland estate. The hotel combines the original features of the 17th century Manor House with modern,...
Situated just 15 minutes from Leeds city center, this family run Victorian built hotel offers free Wi-Fi, free parking, authentic decor and antique furnishings. Positioned near Elland Road, the...
22 The Queens
As the most famous landmark hotel in Leeds, The Queens really does set the standard. Proudly positioned in the heart of City Square adjacent to the rail station and a host of other amenities, The...
Great Location and staff
23 Golden Lion
2 LOWER BRIGGATE
The Cosmopolitan Hotel has been constantly up graded and refurbished with modern decor and facilities to keep pace with the modern traveller and is thus a very good vlaue city centre hotel. Free...
361 Burley Road
Ideally positioned with marvelous social and sporting scenes within walking distance, perfect for those longing for A familiar concept - freedom of choice. 22 generously sized apartments with one...
Great North Road, Peckfield
Located on the outskirts of Leeds, just off J42 of the A1 (M), BEST WESTERN PLUS Milford Hotel has excellent links to both the M1 and the M62 motorways. The shops and attractions of York,...
Friday night stay