Seven of the best hotels in Leeds

Ten years ago, 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. 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? Here’s our pick of the city’s hotel scene. 

Best for classic style: Quebecs

Neighbourhood: City centre

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 was founded. 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. 

Doubles from £120, B&B

Best for history: 42 The Calls

Neighbourhood: City centre

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 intend to remodel 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. 

Doubles from £85, B&B

Best for luxury: Oulton Hall 

Neighbourhood: Oulton

Surrounded by a 300-acre estate and 27-hole golf course, it’s easy to forget this 18th-century mansion is just a 30-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.   

Doubles from £234, B&B

Best for budget: Art Hostel

Neighbourhood: City centre

Leeds’ only city centre hostel is this social arts enterprise, housed in a 19th-century building, which sits just the right side of grungy. Run by East Street Arts, each of its rooms is the creative brainchild of a different artist or designer (some local, some international) who has let their imagination run riot. One twin room has a topsy-turvy, shocking-pink, fluffy mane carpeting the ceiling; another is wallpapered with planets formed from peoples’ impressions of home. Our favourite is the Bowie Bathroom magic-mirror video installation that sings out “Let’s Rinse!” (get it?). Beds in all rooms have custom-built frames fashioned from scaffolding. 

Twin room with shared facilities from £55, room only

Best for nightlife: Briggate Boutique

Neighbourhood: City centre

Opened in 2016 by Leeds nightlife entrepreneurs and so close to the action you can almost feel the base 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. 

Weekend doubles from £150, room only

Best for contemporary design: Dakota Deluxe

Neighbourhood: City centre

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 sense of identity. This shiny-new Leeds hotel is the first toe-dip into England (Manchester to follow in spring 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 Prive, with an outdoor terrace above lively Greek Street. 

Doubles from £180, B&B

Best for families: Chambers

Neighbourhood: City centre

You’d never know this little village of contemporary studios, one-bed 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.  

One-bed apartments from £140, room only


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