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Since 2000 Leeds has won a number of travel accolades. It was the "UK's favourite city" in 2004, and the "Best English city to visit outside London" and "Visitor city of the year" in 2005. And whether or not you credit these sorts of reader polls, this city has a lot of buzz around it. Leeds has been at the forefront of the post-industrialising rebirth. It's replaced its industrial backbone with a new reputation for culture, nightlife and retail. Many of the best places to stay in Leeds reflect this shift, with plenty of boutique establishments popping up all over the place!
Leeds' grand Victorian architecture has been polished up, and the centre around its pretty covered arcades pedestrianised, and filled with boutiques, cafes and restaurants. So one of the nicest things to do is just wander around.
If you're lucky you'll bump into the medieval wonder which is Kirkstall Abbey, or the river, or the surprise that is Leeds Harvey Nichols. And if you think it's bustling by day, just wait until you come out in the evenings.
If you're enticed by the fact that Leeds is the only UK city outside of London to have its own opera and ballet company, you might also be impressed by what's coming out of the West Yorkshire Playhouse.
Leeds Art Gallery is also a big hitter when it comes to national galleries and showcasing British art. It's packed with plenty of heavyweight works by Turner, Constable, Wyndham Lewis and Stanley Spencer, for example, but also presents works by more modern artists - it's got a recent acquisition by Antony Gormley for example. If you want to see work by local-boy Henry Moore, head to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
To really appreciate modern Leeds, you need to know where it comes from, and you can find some of that out at the Leeds Industrial Museum. One of the best things about this museum is that it occupies a building which used to be one of the world's largest textile mills. But Leeds' most fascinating museum is probably the Royal Armouries, which started as a collection of arms from the Tower of London, but has expanded, and now covers thousands of years worth of weaponry. The live demonstrations have to be a highlight.
Harewood House, another traveller-voted favourite, is a short distance from Leeds. Listed and lovely, this house is packed with original Chippendale furniture, and the garden was designed by Capability Brown. Its also got an impressive art collection.
- Some of Leeds' finest buildings have been converted into some of the best places to stay in Leeds. 42 The Calls is an excellent example - this building used to be a corn mill! It then became Leeds' first boutique hotel, and 16 years on is still a firm favourite.
Leeds and Surrounds
- If you're looking for something more relaxing, the Wood Hall Hotel & Spa, set amongst 100 acres of its own grounds, is perfect. The hall was built in 1750, but the interiors are modern but elegant. Staying at this small country house hotel is a bit like being a house guest at an extremely elegant house party. But one with a comprehensive spa menu.
Best Hotels in Leeds
42 The Calls 41 rooms from $109Leeds (West Yorkshire)
This 18th Century corn mill converstion on River Aire was Leeds' first boutique hotel and remains a hot spot for both business and leisure guests. Contemporary rooms house art works, TV and the homely touch of daily made biscuits. The romantic notion of breakfast in bed is lived to the full here.Sights nearby - Leeds Art Gallery is home to some fantastic permanent exhibits, as well as a cafe with noteworthy small bites.Great walks - Head to the Moors for some fresh air, stunning views and a of course a hearty pub lunch!Views - River Aire.Lively - Hip and happening.Recommended by - Good Hotel Guide, Fodors
Wood Hall Hotel & Spa 44 rooms from $141Wetherby, Yorkshire
Attractive small country house hotel just outside Wetherby. Set amid 100 acres of its own grounds, privacy and serenity are guaranteed. Enjoy a relaxing day in the spa followed by an indulgent dinner in the Georgian Restaurant. The ideal country escape from it all.Views - Great views from hotelSpaSwimming Pool - Indoor/outdoorFour poster beds - For romantics.