The ULTIMATE Guide To Leeds: How To Spend 48 Hours In My Favourite UK city

Sharing my top tips to my favourite UK city; Leeds - including where to stay/eat, explore and shop! 

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Last week I returned from an EPIC three night trip to Leeds, and I can hand on heart say it's my new favourite city in the UK! I'd previously been twice but both times were only for a night, and both for an occasion so I felt like I hadn't actually seen anything from this amazing city. Every moment that went by during our trip, I fell in love with Leeds even more, I'm honestly so, SO excited to share this guide with you all! Here's my tips on what to do in Leeds!...

A CLOSER LOOK AT WHAT I'LL BE COVERING IN MY LEEDS CITY GUIDE...

where to stay

Delving into our wonderful stay at the Dakota Deluxe in Leeds and why it needs to be your go-to hotel during your visit!

where to eat & drink

We pretty much ate and drank our way through the city - it's time to share our favourite spots with you all!

a shopping guide

Oh my goodness the shopping in Leeds is UNREAL, I'm sharing my top tips from hunting down bargains to browsing luxury stores!

Cultural Experiences

If you like to venture out of the city a little and explore the surrounding areas then look no further as I have you covered on what's nearby!

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Where we stayed: Dakota Deluxe Hotel

 8 Russell St, Leeds LS1 5RN

From the second we walked into the Dakota Deluxe hotel I was obsessed, the lighting in the hotel was super chic and sexy, the bedrooms were stunning and best of all?! It was SUPER affordable (the concept behind the hotel is all about affordable luxury, but not at any one point did I feel that the quality had been compromised to bring the price down!). Located on the popular Russell street,  you can pop into the hotel for dinner and drinks without being a guest - the hotel offers the most inviting atmosphere and staff that honest can't do enough to ensure your stay/visit is as wonderful as it could be... a MUST!

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WHERE TO EAT & DRINK...

1.) Issho: I took my best friend Amy to Leeds with me and it was her first ever time trying Sushi, she absolutely L O V E D it! In all honesty I'd only tried Sushi last year but I can't get enough of it now and I have to say our lunch at Issho was some of the best Sushi I'd ever eaten, it was so flavoursome and fresh! The decor of this restaurant absolutely blew me away, it felt so authentic, fresh and luxurious! Located in the infamous Victoria Gate shopping centre; Issho is a must for a post shopping Japanese lunch or a delicious evening meal led by Executive Chef Ben Orpwood!

Issho, Victoria Gate, Leeds LS2 7AU

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2.) OX club: We spent our first evening in Leeds dining at the OX club and it was such a lovely restaurant, the atmosphere was really romantic and cosy and the food was delicious; I opted for the Sirloin steak, sea salt chips and red wine (no YOU'RE dribbling), we absolutely love the ambience of this Michelin Guide restaurant and I'd definitely recommend it anyone visiting Leeds in search of a hearty meal (the menu changes on a daily basis due to the fresh produce and ingredients so if you've been before definitely check it out next time you're in town - I'm already planning my trip back!).

OX Club, 19a The Headrow, Leeds, LS1 6PU

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3.) Friends of Ham: I'll be completely honest - when I saw Friends of Ham on our itinerary I was a bit skeptical, I'm not one of those 'adult adults' that eats meat boards and drinks wine (okay, okay I LOVE wine), but I just had no idea what to expect from our lunch. I can honestly say that both myself and Amy absolutely LOVED it! We had a really lovely waiter who talked us through the menu and we opted for the Spanish board with a mix of meats and cheeses, and a glass of white wine paired perfectly! It was one of those lovely, lazy lunches that we just stayed for over two hours, chatting over wine and picking at our food until we couldn't move - we're planning to take the boys back in March as they are definitely the kind of adults who will DIG this!

Friends of Ham, 4-8 New Station St, Leeds, LS1 5DL

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4.) Crafthouse: I'd heard such amazing things about Crafthouse from my Leeds based bloggers girls so I was super excited to visit, and oh my god it didn't disappoint! First things first, I was obsessed with the decor, with it's sophisticated lighting and marble tables; this place looked and felt so luxe but not at any point did it feel pretensious which I loved! All three of us settled on the wild mushroom and parmesan linguine and a bottle of South African wine to accompany our meal, from the settings, to the service and food - this restraunt was incredible and a must if you're visiting Leeds!

Crafthouse, Level 5 Trinity Leeds, 70 Boar Lane, Leeds, LS1 6HW

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5.) Northern Monk Brewery: We visited the brewery on our second day in Leeds and absolutely loved it. What was meant to be just a tour of the brewery, turned into a tour followed by a 3 hour beer/gin sampling session and life chats with the lovely Tara (the director; Russell's wife - they actually got married at the brewery, how amazing?!). I'm not really a beer kind of gal but trust me when I say there's something for everyone here, from a lighter ale to fruit flavoured beer! Just a 9 minute walk from Leeds city centre, the Northern Monk Brewery is definitely worth a trip! If brewery tours aren't your thing then don't worry - the brewery has a cool, laid back bar and a beer garden too for the summer! A must visit for a chilled afternoon with friends!

Northern Monk Brewery, The Old Flax Store, Marshalls Mill, Holdback, LS11 9YJ

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6.) Angelica: Located on the sixth floor directly above Crafthouse, Angelica was another place I was so excited to visit - I'd heard such great things from my local Leeds blogging pals and seen countless snaps of this Instagrammable restaurant and bar! We headed there on our last night for some delicious cocktails before heading down to Crafthouse for dinner - the venue was stunning and the cocktails were to die for (definitely didn't think that the next day haha!). I'm already planning my trip back to Angelica as I'd love to visit in the day as the restaurant is just so pretty (oh, I've heard the bottomless Sunday brunch is amazing too so that's next on the list for our return!).

Angelica, Level 6, Trinity Leeds, Leeds LS1 6HW

Angelica

A SHOPPING GUIDE TO LEEDS...

Oh my god the shopping in Leeds has to be one of my favourite things about the city; there is just the most incredible variety of shopping, from Victoria Gate to the Trinity centre, and everything else in between! During our first day in Leeds, after lunch at Issho, we spent the afternoon wandering Victoria Gate with the lovely Jacob, who showed us the very best of what the centre had to offer. From a luxurious facial at Liz Earle (it was SO good!), to fragrance testing at Penhaligons (pretty much now want to own every perfume the brand offers!), and sleep school at Neom (where we got some great tips which I've already started putting into action to help me sleep!).

Myself and Amy headed back to Victoria Gate on Thursday before we drove home as we wanted to have another wander around the centre and get some snaps - it's honestly the most visually pleasing/Instagram-worthy shopping centre I've ever seen! Packed full of designer stores (from Louis Vuitton, Mulberry and Harvey Nichols) to some of my favourite mid/high end high street stores (Anthropologie, & Other Stories and Reiss).

If you're looking for high street giants such as Topshop, Mango, H&M and Victoria Secret then head to Trinity Centre with over 120 shops (also home to Crafthouse and Angelica along with some over incredible restaurant such as Wagamamas, Handmade Burger Co. and Meat Liquor!

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I had the Liz Earle Signature Facial with Sally (reduced time of 45 minutes, it's usually 90 minutes) - and it was wonderful! My skin was glowing for days!

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We spent an hour in the Penhaligons store where we both did their fragrance test and walked away with our favourite fragrances that were kindly gifted to us by the wonderful store staff! Everything smelt DIVINE, one of my favourites had to be 'Luna'!

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We rounded off our dreamy afternoon with 'sleep school' at Neom, complete with trailing the products, herbal tea and lots of tips on getting a good sleep!

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CULTURAL EXPERIENCES...

Our second morning in Leeds we took a short drive from the city centre to Harewood House (it wasn't actually that short because Amy got us lost and took us to the wrong location LOL, but it's only 25 minutes from the centre of Leeds!). We were completely blown away by the house and the surrounding grounds; it was so stunning and we couldn't believe it was so close to the city! We took a leisurely walk around the Victoria exhibition (from the ITV show Victoria) then headed out to the gardens to take some snaps of the stunning grounds and have a wander!

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Another cultural place to visit is Lotherton Hall; we were meant to visit on our last day but unfortunately couldn't make it - I've heard so many great things from local Leeds blogger babes and am definitely adding it to my list of places to visit for our return as it looks beautiful!

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING...

"Been Leeds born and bred means I am so passionate about my city and I love everything about it. From the little things like knowing when the traffic lights are going to change to the fact that there are constantly new things opening up. There are endless choices of places to eat, meet friends for drinks and also lots of gorgeous scenery like Roundhay Park, which, luckily for me is right on my doorstep. You can usually find me strolling around the lake most days..." Laura, founder - House of Coco magazine

"Leeds is a city with so much culture, character and sass and although the city centre is compact, it has so much to offer. If I want to treat myself, I love visiting the shops in Victoria Quarter and Victoria Gate . If I want to let my hair down I head to Greek Street, Merrion Street or Call Lane, all of which have an amazing bar and restaurant scene. If I am feeling casual or low key I love being head to venues like Belgrave Music Hall or Roxy Ballroom, both of which have an amazing laid-back atmosphere. My favourite brunch spot is Laynes Espresso near Leeds station and my favourite restaurant has to be Issho Japanese Restaurant. There are so hidden gems in this city and I am still discovering more of them on a weekly basis. It’s never dull living in Leeds and I feel lucky to be part of this diverse and thriving Northern city. There’s something about Leeds that just gets under your skin." - Jess, Blogger - The Travelista

"As a Leeds University alumni, I only have good words to say about the University of Leeds, such a vibrant, incredible place with epic lecturers. Leeds itself is just wonderful, with everything from your most luxurious stores (LV and Harvey Nichols for designer lovers) and Victoria Quarter which is a personal favourite for stunning stores, then the addition of Victoria Gate which has brought a whole new luxury shopping and dining scene. There's obviously Trinity Leeds too which is wonderful for high street shopping, my favourite is one of the largest Topshop's outside of London. Bars such as Angelica and Issho make Leeds incredibly special and unique restaurants such as Pintura and Cielo Blanco make Leeds food scene exciting and vibrant. If the countryside is for you, a short drive away is Roundhay park, one of my favourite parks to relax and wonder around." Em, blogger - Em Talks

"Leeds will always be my favourite city because its home and because there is always so much on offer to do & see there. Friday nights are made for Super League & Reds True BBQ with friends, Saturdays for shopping & afternoon tea with the girls in Victoria Gate and Sundays for walking hand-in-hand around the parklands at Lotherton or Temple Newsome. Over time it has become the city that rarely sleeps, where you can find a good curry at 2am (or later) or head out for brunch early doors. But it also still toasts it’s heritage and I think that’s what always steals my heart." Emma, Blogger - Harmony Blaze

Leeds pin

FEELING INSPIRED? WHY NOT TAKE A LOOK AT MY OTHER CITY GUIDES HERE!...

Need help planning your trip to Leeds?! Check out the Visit Leeds page HERE! Looking for an alternative UK break? Then take a look at the Visit Britain 'Join the World' hub packed full of ideas HERE!

Have you ever been to Leeds before? Is it somewhere you'd like to visit in the UK? Have you visited any of the places we went to? I'd love to know!


*This post was in collaboration with Visit England, all opinions and images as always, are my own. 

14 Comments

  1. Angie 31st October 2017 / 6:56 pm

    I sued to live in Leeds so I’m also a big fan!

    • Hayley 1st November 2017 / 10:52 am

      Ah how exciting love! I’d love to live up north for a while and Leeds would be a great destination for sure! x

  2. Sophie Cliff 1st November 2017 / 10:14 am

    Ahhh I’m so glad you enjoyed your trip to our gorge city! Our friends got married at the brewery too and it was so much fun x
    Sophie Cliff

    • Hayley 1st November 2017 / 10:52 am

      Ah no way?! I loved the fact that they hosted weddings; it was such a cool venue! We absolutely loved it lady, can’t wait to return! 🙂 x

  3. Miley 1st November 2017 / 12:55 pm

    Thank you for your guide! Amazing place! Hope I will spend a couple of days visiting!

    • Hayley 2nd November 2017 / 11:00 am

      You’re so welcome, I hope you get to visit, it’s such a great city! x

  4. Amy 1st November 2017 / 1:21 pm

    Oh Lotherton Hall is a beaut, what a shame you didn’t get to visit! I love Angelicas, Leeds is full of so many great places to eat/drink/do anything it’s amazing. So glad you enjoyed your trip girl!
    Amy xx

    • Hayley 2nd November 2017 / 11:00 am

      I know, we were so gutted but had some loose ends to tie up on our last morning 🙁 Definitely on the list for next time though! Ah thank you lovely! x

  5. Lucy 1st November 2017 / 10:12 pm

    Ooh I love posts like this, they always remind me to get out of Devon and see the rest of the UK! Harewood House looks beautiful, I’d love to go on a city break with an afternoon spent wandering around the house and grounds xxx
    Lucy @ La Lingua | Life, Travel, Italy

    • Hayley 2nd November 2017 / 11:01 am

      So glad to hear that lovely, I LOVE a staycation in the UK – so lovely to take a few days out and feel refreshed! 🙂 The grounds were absolutely stunning – let me know if you ever get the chance to visit! x

  6. Emma Hart | Paper Planes and Caramel Waffles 6th November 2017 / 10:47 pm

    Ah my flatmate works at Dakota! I’ve been meaning to go in for a drink as it looks absolutely LUSH! So good to hear you enjoyed your few days here love and hopefully you’ll be back again soon 🙂

    Emma | Paper Planes and Caramel Waffles

    • Hayley 10th November 2017 / 12:52 pm

      Definitely do go love, it’s SO nice! We’re hoping to stay when we head back next year! Thank you lovely, definitely will! 🙂 x

  7. Moonez 8th November 2017 / 1:04 pm

    Love the green jacket/top in the first photo!

    • Hayley 10th November 2017 / 12:51 pm

      Thank you 🙂 x

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