Leeds, Leeds, Leeds ! La plus grande ville du Yorkshire est l'une des destinations les plus captivantes d'Angleterre. Crédit : Shutterstock

Que faire à Leeds ? Activités, restaurants, hôtels

La plus grande ville du Yorkshire accueille des bars branchés et une cuisine internationale avant-gardiste.

by Lorna Parkes

Underdog of the northern England city scene, Leeds often flies beneath the radar of tourists to the United Kingdom, yet never fails to charm those who make the effort to visit. Bisected by the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, Yorkshire’s largest city grew rich off textile manufacturing in the Industrial Revolution. Mills and wharfs from that era have today been reborn as buzzy social spaces, characterful shopping enclaves, gritty bar complexes and craft breweries. A city break in Leeds is good fun.

Leeds, England, is also a city of innovators. Frenchman Louis Le Prince created the world’s first film here in 1888, foretelling a creative future. The city is now a lynchpin of the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle, a network of four venues showcasing more than 200 works from leading artists. Art is also written all over the streets, thanks to a campaign to breathe new life into Victorian edifices with giant murals. There are theaters galore, like the West Yorkshire Playhouse, and Leeds hosts the headquarters of the Northern Ballet and Channel 4 TV. The city is also gearing up for Leeds 2023—a year-long culture fest that will platform local grassroots arts.



Leeds’ location at the foot of the Yorkshire dales and moors gives prime access to some of England’s top food producers, and the city center has become a bedrock of forward-looking British cuisine as well as a flourishing hub for independent restaurants. There’s one Michelin-starred venue here, Michael O’Hare’s daring Man Behind the Curtain (for which you need to book months in advance), but there’s plenty more palate-pushing restaurants in Leeds.

Seek out any of former MasterChef semi-finalist Liz Cottam’s establishments for high-end British dining, or trawl the options along North Street and New Station Street for gastropubs, artisan coffee, small plates and British charcuterie. Dive into historic Kirkgate Market’s cathedral-like food hall for cheap eats such as the Fisherman’s Wife’s fish and chips—a Yorkshire institution. Excellent Indian food is another city joy, thanks to a long history of industrial worker immigration. Try Bundobust for craft beer paired with Yorkshire-influenced Gujarati veggie street food; next door, Tharavadu comes Michelin recommended.

Laynes Espresso is queen of Leeds brunch venues (try the Yorkshire rarebit or unctuous organic slow scrambled eggs) and the cafe that started the city’s third-wave coffee movement. One of its favorite brews is North Star coffee from Leeds’ own artisan roastery, which works directly with sustainable coffee farms and profiles its beans in its own cafe at Leeds Dock.


Leeds has few major museums or attractions, meaning most of your time can be spent on hedonistic hops between shops, bars and cafes in the compact city center. However, it’s worth starting the day by taking the canary-yellow water taxi from Granary Wharf (a lively waterside bar enclave later in the day) to Leeds Dock’s Royal Armouries Museum. You’ll get an eyeful of riverside industrial relics as you chug along, and the museum itself is home to Britain’s national arms and armament collection.

Back in Leeds city center, dip into the conjoined Leeds Art Gallery and Henry Moore Institute for a well-curated hit list of 20th-century British art and sculpture. Plan for a coffee break in the art gallery’s exquisite Tiled Cafe, with its colonnaded forest of Victorian tiles. It’s always inexplicably quiet.

Window-shop beneath the beautiful vaulted glass roofs that crown Leeds’ ornate Victorian shopping arcades. The Victoria Quarter and linked Country Arcade have the most wow factor, whereas Thorntons and Queens Arcades are local favorites for their independent shops and cafes behind quaint 19th-century facades. Leave time for the Corn Exchange—another striking landmark, now home to more than 20 pocket-sized shops beneath a giant domed arc of iron and glass.


Combining dining, drinking and contemporary art, the former art deco Tetley brewery HQ is another gallery to pause at. Beer is in Leeds’ blood, and as the sun dips join a craft brewery tour at Northern Monk followed by tastings in its Grade II-listed flax mill taproom. It’s in Holbeck, where a trio of 19th-century factory chimneys designed to look like Italian bell towers are now being woven into Leeds’ £350 million South Bank redevelopment zone.

Locals from all over Yorkshire come for the nightlife in Leeds. The Northern Quarter is one night-owl haven with cocktail dens, sports bars and craft beer. The jamming rooftop bar at Headrow House tops out an old mill with a beer hall on the ground floor serving housemade pilsner.

For a dose of fresh air after a heavy night, Roundhay Park is good for a stroll, as is the less manicured four-mile Meanwood Valley Trail. Or take the bus to Kirkstall Abbey, a 12th-century ruin founded by Cistercian monks that sometimes hosts food markets, outdoor cinema and other events.


The Queens 

This venerable railway hotel became Leeds’ hottest ticket again in 2021 after a £16 million head-to-toe revamp. It’s super convenient for those arriving into Leeds by train, with its own private entrance off the concourse. Inside, an art deco aesthetic reflects the “golden age of travel.” The heritage-listed, lipstick-red lifts are neon-lit, and there’s an abundance of Jazz Age gilt and glamor. Its palm-fringed bar is a favorite spot for night-caps before late trains.

Dakota Deluxe

Malmaison founder Ken McCulloch is behind this luxury boutique hotel with 84 rooms. Since opening in 2017, Dakota Deluxe has quickly become the place to stay in Leeds for visiting celebrities. Inside, the room tech is slick, the bedding is sumptuous and the neutral palette of grays and taupes is designed to sooth. It also acts as a sophisticated backdrop for the hotel’s striking art collection, starting with the shaggy rope dog, Fetcher, in the hotel lobby.