Best hotels in Leeds 2023: From luxury spa breaks to city centre hostels

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Ten years ago, you may have thought that Leeds would have made a very dour weekend away, but this old Yorkshire industrial city is becoming quite the 21st-century dynamo. Heritage red-brick mills and warehouses have been reimagined as craft-beer bars and modern British restaurants, street art is filling cracks in the urban fabric and a web of Victorian covered laneway arcades make atmospheric shopping thoroughfares.

Leeds city centre is compact and walkable, which makes it an excellent destination for a short city break. In a couple of days, you can stroll between the canalside wharfs and docks, visit the UK’s repository of military history at the Royal Armouries, delve into experiential art with a side of Henry Moore at the revamped Leeds Art Gallery and taste test the city’s microbreweries in between. But where to stay during your visit? Here’s our pick of the city’s hotel scene, from luxury hotels to purse-friendly hostels.

Neighbourhood: City Centre

Quebecs offers a classic hotel experience for visitors to Leeds

(Quebecs)

In the days when Leeds’ clubs were synonymous with gentlemen and politics instead of dancers and drinkers, Quebecs was home to the prestigious Leeds and County Liberal Club. Starting at the wrought-iron gates guarded by Corinthian columns, many reminders of its 1891 origins remain intact, giving the hotel both gravitas and grace that regulars love. Inside the lobby, a broad oak staircase sweeps up to a sumptuous communal gallery with stained-glass decoration. No two rooms are alike, but all take inspiration from the Victorian era in which the building first came to be. Ceilings are high and windows are large, with sweeping drapes. Rooms in its turret are particularly lovely; there’s one in the eaves and another on the second floor with a three-sided balcony for pre-dinner cocktails.

Neighbourhood: City Centre

The penthouse at the historic 42 The Calls

(42 The Calls)

A golden oldie on the Leeds boutique hotel scene, this heritage mill hotel has a new spring in its step thanks to new owners who are remodelling the ground floor with a coffee shop and decking over the River Aire. Victorian milling equipment, such as grinders and pulleys that would have once hauled corn into the building from the waterway, is still in situ at 42 The Calls and has been fused into the room design. It’s all very industrial chic; whitewashed bare-brick bedrooms accentuate the mill’s original features, topped off with exposed oak beams and rare river views. Breakfasts are another singular feature, with a dedicated sausage menu of 12 options from an award-winning Yorkshire butchers.

42 The Calls is currently closed for refurbishment.

Neighbourhood: Oulton

One of the airy and spacious bedroom suites at Oulton Hall

(Oulton Hall)

Surrounded by a 300-acre estate and 27-hole golf course, it’s easy to forget this 18th-century mansion is just a 20-minute taxi ride away from Leeds city centre. Inside there is more than a whiff of glamour, with original Georgian features and 152 modern bedrooms decked out in plush, period-style furnishings. Luxury is the name of the game here. Fancy afternoon tea with a private butler? No problem. In fact, many locals come to Oulton Hall just for spa days and afternoon tea in the champagne bar. It’s also dog friendly, with beds, bowls and treats for your pooch.

Neighbourhood: City Centre

A room at Art Hostel Kirkgate

(Art Hostel)

Social enterprise East Street Arts ran Leeds’ only city centre hostel as a pop-up for several years before being kicked out by developers earlier than anticipated. The good news is that they now have a permanent home a 10-minute walk up the road. You can expect artist-designed rooms (some local, some international) with crazy touches. One twin room at Kirkgate had a topsy-turvy, shocking-pink, fluffy mane carpeting the ceiling; another was wallpapered with planets formed from peoples’ impressions of home.

Neighbourhood: City Centre

Briggate Boutique is located in the heart of the city’s LGBT+ quarter

(Briggate Boutique)

Opened in 2016 by Leeds nightlife entrepreneurs, and so close to the action you can almost feel the bass vibrations, this apartment-hotel provides free nightclub entry on Fridays, a free drink voucher per guest for a rabble of bars and free ear plugs – which you’ll need if you retire early on weekends. Rooms channel the nightclub vibe with black accent walls and subtle purple backlighting, but also have exposed brick walls, wooden beams and sepia-tinted urban landscape photography to mellow out the mood. There’s an astro-turfed communal smokers’ balcony, and a four-person deluxe balcony loft suite for groups.

Neighbourhood: City Centre

This city-centre enclave has restrained design but a strong sense of identity

(Dakota)

From the moment you’re greeted by the concierge in a flat cap and rope dog “Fetcher” at the door, it’s obvious Dakota is a luxury hotel with a unique identity. It was the first toe-dip into England (Manchester followed in 2019) for the Scottish mini-chain by Ken McCulloch, who founded Malmaison, and his award-winning interior designer wife Amanda Rosa. Custom-made contemporary sculptures on plinths salute guests in the corridors, along with full-length lifestyle photography. Rooms feel elegant and restrained but supremely comfy, defined by muted greys, super-soft mohair throws and 48-inch TVs with Sky Sports and movies. There’s also a suave cocktail bar, Salon Privé, with an outdoor terrace above lively Greek Street.

Neighbourhood: City Centre

Chambers is located in a quiet corner of Leeds city centre

(Chambers)

You’d never know that this little village of contemporary studios, one and two-bed apartments existed from the street-front Victorian edifice. Each apartment has a different layout but common elements such as luxurious bathrooms with Molton Brown toiletries, modern kitchenettes, wooden floors and un-fussy furnishings run throughout. The friendly-family owners like to make guests feel at home with little conveniences like an honesty bar in the communal lounge, barbecuing space in the cute internal courtyard and welcome packs with breakfast essentials and homemade biscuits.

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