With 2023 coming to a close, many people have already begun planning tvheir 2024 holidays and getaways. With the cost of living crisis impacting many people’s holiday plans, more and more travellers are turning to staycations to rest and recharge, with 75% of people in the UK planning a staycation as opposed to far-away destinations. As well as this, people are looking to be more sustainable with how they travel, leading to more staycations. But, one issue with that is that there are so many great staycation destinations around the UK that choosing one is sure to be difficult.
However, to make this decision easier for you, Leeds has recently been named one of the best staycation locations in the UK. It’s a very unique location, with a vibrant mixture of old and new, and is just on the doorstep of the Yorkshire Dales, making it the perfect base for exploring. The city is continually increasing in terms of popularity and is fast becoming a well-known cultural and food destination.
Small enough to travel easily on foot, Leeds is home to some amazing restaurants, quirky shopping centres and fun activities – making it the perfect weekend staycation destination. With that in mind, let’s take a look at 3 reasons why Leeds should be your next destination when planning your staycation.
Unique Shopping Centres
Leeds is home to a number of glorious shopping centres, with many unique and quirky arcades dotted around the city. If you love nothing more than a shopping spree, then Leeds is a place to put at the top of your list. The stunning Victorian arcades right in the centre are impressive to simply just walk around, but is also home to a number of unique stores. Also known as Victoria Leeds, it is one of the most visually impressive shopping centres in Leeds and is home to the largest expanse of stained glass in the UK, boasting 749 square metres.
For a shopping trip combined with history, there are centres which are decorated with ornate Gothic arches and church-style lancet windows along the upper stories. Be sure to look out for the winged lion and dragons which feature on the iron trusses supporting the roof. Every quarter hour, you might even spot Robin Hood, Friar Tuck, Gurth the Swinehead and Richard the Lion-Hearted striking the animatronic clock.
Just as many cities in the UK have covered markets, Leeds’ Kirkgate market has its own claim to fame in that it is the location where M&S started, selling everything from natural skin care products to delicious homemade treats. The first M&S store – a stall on the outdoor market – was opened by Michael Marks. Later, Michael paired with cashier Tom Spencer, and Marks & Spencer was born.
Leeds is nestled in the Yorkshire region and, as such, this means that it is within easy reach of calming seaside towns and rolling hills in the Dales. Because of this wide expansion across numerous different areas, there are plenty of distinctive and memorable types of accommodation, from treehouses to shepherd’s huts.
Luxury: The Queens Hotel in Leeds
Nestled right in the city centre, The Queens Hotel in Leeds is the perfect place if you’re looking for a little bit of luxury during your staycation. With a large focus on Art Deco, the elegance and glamour of The Queens Hotel is clear throughout all the bedrooms and communal areas.
Whether you want to splash out on their presidential suite or keep it simple with a classic room, each and every room is beautifully and stylishly decorated and you’re sure to enjoy your stay here whilst getting out and about exploring Leeds! During your stay, be sure to visit Grand Pacific – the bar and restaurant in the hotel – serving opulent cocktails and a range of dining options.
Countryside: Stonebeck Gate Farm’s Shepherds Rest
If you’re looking for a quiet and secluded countryside retreat that’s still within distance to explore Leeds, then consider a stay at Shepherds Rest. This is where you can really take in everything the Yorkshire countryside has to offer, with stunning views across the dales and your only neighbours being sheep in the nearby field.
This homely little shepherds hut will be your living accommodation during your stay, complete with a wood-burning stove and gas hob, however a lot of your time will be spent outdoors. Whether you’re soaking away your stresses in the hot tub or cooking using the open fire, this basic but fun experience is sure to allow you to rest and reset.
Hidden Foodie Gems
If you love discovering new restaurants and foodie spots, then Leeds is up and coming in terms of its offerings. There are hundreds of independent restaurants, eateries, bars and coffee shops around Leeds, whether you’re in search of a romantic bar for date nights or an exciting new cuisines, there is plenty to choose from in Leeds!
If you’re not sure where is best to eat, or feel overwhelmed with choice, then foodies will absolutely love the Hidden Gems Food Tour which takes tourists over the city, discovering new food spots. Thanks to the compact size of Leeds city centre, this helps many different establishments get to know one another and as a result, they will often collaborate for events or one-off tastings. This tour takes you to some of the best independent restaurants and eateries around Leeds, with plenty of delicious food to sample at each spot, and you’ll hear all about the backstories of each restaurant, as well as plenty of fun facts about Leeds.
In Leeds, the best places to eat aren’t always the ones with flashy decor or waiters in aprons. Sometimes, the very best places are those hidden down backstreets or that go incognito amongst busy shopping streets. Shears Yard is an example of this, which is just tucked away from The Calls, and is located in a deceptively stunning 18th-century building which buzzes with atmosphere. Although it has a “fine dining” description, it is a firm favourite with Leeds locals, not just for the great food, but for the friendly and welcoming team. Very reasonably priced, this is a must-visit for anyone with an interest in good food!
If you’re looking to celebrate a special occasion and are a fan of Spanish cuisine, then Iberica is one of the best rated restaurants in Leeds. With a wide selection of tapas dishes, artisanal wines and produce, Iberica is set over two floors of a former antique house, making it one of the most striking restaurants in Leeds. With food and drink sourced directly from Spanish suppliers, the menu range features your classic tapas dishes and paella, to a la carte menus and extensive drinks menu.