If you’re after a town that’s huge with all of the high street stores you could imagine, whilst still retaining the quintessential English feel, then Leeds in Yorkshire, England is that place.
Leeds, in a 2011 survey of the urban area, had over 1.7 million people living there! They operate a one-way driving system through town, which I suppose was implemented to help people but to me seems to make things a little harder than they should be! With the smaller English streets though, and roads that turn into pavements, it seems to keep the traffic in order.
Getting there by motorway or by train is easy. Leeds railway station is in the centre of town and if you walk not 50-100 metres out of it you’ll be sure to hit your first of many Primark’s. Although it is teeming to the brim with Topshop, River Island and Next to name just a small few of the brand stores around, it keeps its English feel with them being situated in all of the original buildings and architecture that gives Leeds a homely feeling. There are rows of tall brick buildings, cathedrals, clock towers and old dome-shaped establishments filling and making up the streets – and of course a pub or two on every corner.
We arrived in the late morning and set off through the Leeds Centre Market. We parked in a huge storey car park next to them, which cost over 10 pounds for less than four hours, so I certainly suggest finding one of the four pound all day parking lots! The markets have an outside and an inside market, selling everything from produce to phones, flowers and clothes. Once outside, you have your choice to wander into any H&M, Primark and more. There are your typical Starbucks coffee shops, but also a lot of little local places to buy lunch, and dark little pubs to enjoy a local ale or two.
As mentioned previously, Leeds also has Jamie Oliver’s Italian Restaurant, which I can say firsthand is amazing! From the decor to the service, to the food itself, you pretty much can’t go wrong if you wander into here. Unfortunately, Jamie won’t be cooking for you, but there’s always hope…
On top of that there is an award-winning Cross Keys gastro pub, Shaky Jakes ’50s style diner for every flavour of milkshake known to man, and if you fancy a bit of history with your pint, try Whitelock’s. It’s the oldest pub in Leeds and dates back to 1715.
Leeds has a large entertainment history and current vibe to it, so if you’re there in November head to the annual Leeds International Film Festival. There are also heaps of theatres around, like the West Yorkshire Playhouse, the biggest one outside of London!
Just outside of the Leeds railway station is the huge, majestic Queens Hotel. As far as the eye can see, it takes over at least one whole block of white brick building. It’s popular among travellers and locals alike, and a guest bedroom overlooking town will only set you back just over 100 pounds, even in peak season (around June). There’s wi-fi, room service and laundry service, so if for some reason you’re too tired to explore the stunning town, you’ll be in fine hands.
Written by Madelin Baldwin