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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" as well as "Visitor city of the year" in 2005. Whether you credit these sorts of reader polls or not, this city has a lot of buzz around it. Leeds has been at the forefront of the post-industrialisation 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, 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 that 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.
What Not To Miss
- Leeds Art Gallery is 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.
- That said, 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.
What with its recent notoriety as a top place to visit, you might want to book well ahead (especially in summer), as the best places to stay in Leeds often get quickly booked up.
- Some of the city's 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.
- The New Ellington is a sophisticated Art Deco themed hotel located in the heart of the city. Contemporary classic accommodation, whilst there's also a 'Gin Garden' bar for you to try. A stylish city stay.
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.
For An Apartment
- If you think a self-catering option would best suit your needs then have a look at the wide variety available online with our partner, booking.com.
- The best time to visit Leeds is probably during the summer, with the temperature reaching an average of 15°C in August. It's hardly ever balmy, so be sure to pack a coat just in case!
- This is however peak season, and so expect the place to be fairly busy with fellow tourists. If you fancy visiting at a quieter time and paying lower prices then Leeds is also beautiful in the spring - be ready though for the occasional bout of rain!
- Visitors can fly into Leeds Bradford Airport, located 8 miles north-west of the city centre. From here, you can hop on a number of buses into the centre of town (around half an hour away) or book a taxi which will cost roughly £25.
- If you're coming by rail from London then there are direct trains from Kings Cross which take just over 2 hours.
- For car hire prices, we recommend you visit our online partner Rentalcars.
Still not sure?
Best Hotels in Leeds
Quebecs 44 rooms from $129Leeds
A majestic property in the heart of the city. Spacious suites and rooms benefit from enormous sash windows, tasteful antiques and traditional fabrics. Sip a cocktail at the atmospheric bar, dine in the restaurant or indulge in high-tea in the lounge. The height of luxury.City Style - A sophisticated and elegant hotel in the heart of the city.Great walks - Get out of the city and take long walks through the rugged and picturesque Dales.Full of characterRomantic - Good for couples.
42 The Calls 41 rooms from $116Leeds (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
Dakota Deluxe 84 rooms from $234Leeds
A glamorous contemporary hotel in the heart of Leeds. Immaculately designed throughout, rooms feature steel grey walls, sink-into beds, black and white photography and indulgent modern bathrooms. Fantastic food is served in the two restaurants and there's also a champagne bar and atmospheric lounge.City Style - Dark, moody and romantic with a slick bar and restaurant.Sights nearby - Visit the atmospheric Kirkstall Abbey.Romantic - Good for couples.
Wood Hall Hotel & Spa 44 rooms from $150Wetherby, 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/outdoorTraditional
The New Ellington 36 rooms from $83Leeds
A sophisticated Art Deco themed hotel in central Leeds. Contemporary classic rooms with all the mod cons and luxurious accessories, lively 'Gin Garden' bar, and a range of meeting rooms for corporate events. A stylish city spot for the business traveller.City Style - A sophisticated Art Deco/Jazz themed hotel in the heart of Leeds' business districtSights nearby - Royal Armouries, Leeds Town Hall, Leeds Arena and Leeds Grand Theatre