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Why have LA when you can have Leeds?

Manchester Evening News logo Manchester Evening News 19/06/2017 15:25:50 Justin Connolly

As we gaze off into the distance at faraway lands, dreaming of azure skies and crystal clear oceans, we often fail to pay attention to the riches we have closer to home.

OK, so maybe Leeds isn't quite as glamorous as LA, and perhaps an afternoon at Kirkgate Market doesn't quite have same allure as a spot of haggling an in Moroccan souk.

But Leeds is an awful lot easier (not to mention cheaper) to get to. And it most certainly has more than enough to offer the average Mancunian a weekend of top diversion, should they wish to get away from it all without getting away too far.

In fact, just like you couldn't do Manchester justice in weekend, nor is two days enough to see all the glory of Leeds.

We spent an excellent weekend there, and this is what we did.

An unspoilt gem in the Yorskshire Dales

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Where to stay

What you need is somewhere central, comfortable, and reasonably-priced. What you want, then, is the Novotel Leeds Central. Aside from an early scare with the smart-glass partition between the bedroom and bathroom, which offers a spectacular view of the shower and toilet from the bedroom until a (not all that obvious) switch is flicked to turn the glass wall opaque, our stay was flawless. Helpful and friendly staff, a superior bar and restaurant (more on that later), and a fabulous night's sleep. And reasonable, too - rooms at Novotel Leeds Centre costs from £59 per night. Address: Novotel Leeds Centre, 4 Whitehall Quay, LS1 4HR Contact number: 0113 3969001.

Where to eat

Anyone who knows anything about top restaurants will tell you the best place to eat in Leeds is the Man Behind The Curtain, opened three years ago by Michael O'Hare (he of the Rabbit In The Moon atop the football museum in Manchester), and awarded a Michelin star in 2016. I wouldn't know as you have to book ages in advance, and we'd tipped up more or less on a whim and couldn't get in. What I do know is there are restaurants aplenty within walking distance of the Novotel, and one actually inside it.

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The Soap Factory, is the hotel's bar and restaurant. It takes its inspiration from legendary Leeds entrepreneur Joseph Watson and his Whitehall SoapWorks. 'Soapy Joe's' was one of the biggest soap manufacturers in England from 1873-1922. The Soap Factory has a modern, stylish interior design and serves a menu of Great British classics with a fresh local twist, as well as offering a long list of delicious, hand mixed cocktails. After a few drinks in there, we headed out into the city and stumbled into a cosy-looking Greek restaurant on Great George Street called Souvlaki - and it was fantastic. Obviously, it specialises in Souvlaki, that's kebabs to you and me - special kebabs, though, Greek kebabs. Not being an eater of the meat myself, though, I imagined I'd be a bit stuck, but grilled halloumi is always a welcome standby and it didn't disappoint. My boy, at 16, can be a bit awkward on the food front, but a chicken kebab is right up his street, and he's never had better than here. If Greek's not your thing, there is, in Leeds, something of a burgeoning food scene, much like there is in Manchester - in fact one of our own stars of the show Bundobust hails from Leeds and you could do worse than visit the original. Other spots that come highly recommended include Crafthouse, Angelica, Friends of Ham, Man's Market, and Trinity Kitchen.

Shopping

One thing Leeds is not shy of is shops. Tremendous shops, at that, and, oddly, very beautiful shops, too. From the modern Victoria Gate centre, with its flagship John Lewis, to the wonders of of the utterly magnificent Victoria Quarter next door. It's a collection of the most stunning Victorian arcades you'll ever likely see, and home to some of the highest of high-end stores, including Harvey Nichols, Louis Vuitton, Vivienne Westwood and Paul Smith.

A mini break in York that feels like a real holiday

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Leeds also has its very own Corn Exchange, which is another magnificent building in its own right, and thankfully isn't crammed to the gills with mediocre chain restaurants. It's a bit like our Corn Exchange used to be, without the tarot card readers and bootleg tape stalls. There are some very cool independent shops, and a hour spent browsing around would not be wasted. You can't go to Leeds without having a wander around Kirkgate Market, either, where I think you can buy almost anything there is to buy, while at the same time marvelling in wonder at the site of the very first Marks & Spencer.

© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc

West Yorkshire city proves one of surprises, with culture, shopping and nightlife aplenty

What not to miss

If, like me, the idea of a museum full of guns fills you with equal parts horror and dread, you should force yourself to go to the Royal Armouries Museum, one of the best reasons to visit the city in the first place. It's huge - don't leave yourself a couple of hours like I did, give yourself a day. Filled with a colossal collection of human weaponry from down the ages, the museum forces a sobering reflection on man's ingenuity when it comes to killing other men, as well as an educational trip through the history of conflict, which, sadly, is more or less the history of mankind as well.

© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc

How to get there

You know where Leeds is - just point yourself north east, head off over the moors, and you can't miss it. We're less than an hour away by road (the M62, obviously), and rail - there are regular direct trains from Manchester Victoria.

© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc
19. kesäkuuta 2017 17:33:51 Categories: Manchester Evening News logo

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