Hidden Gems of Leeds
Leeds is a city full of character, well known throughout the UK for its up and coming status with quirky new bars, restaurants and attractions popping up all over the place. With so much to explore in Leeds, no matter how hard you look; you are bound to miss some hidden gems along the way. In this post, we take a look at a tiny handful of the lesser known attractions that Leeds has to offer and where you can find them.
A quirky, underground jazz bar hidden below a barbershop? If you have never heard of The Domino Club then this may sound a little bit absurd to you, but trust us, this is a definite hidden gem. This secret underground bar serves up an extensive list of cocktails and alcoholic beverages in a fun and relaxed atmosphere with live music being the centre of their attention. Get yourself down to The Domino Club, open Tuesday – Sunday 6 pm ‘til late, to experience some live Jazz, Blues, Funk and Soul.
One of several bars in Leeds opened by the Roxy’s Ballroom team, tucked away on Bond Street in Leeds City Centre, Roxy Lanes is somewhat of a hidden gem. Opened in 2014, Roxy Lanes offers everything you’d expect with a Roxy’s bar… Fun, games, food and alcohol, however this time the fun and games come in the form of tenpin bowling! Combining everyone’s 4 favourite things: cocktails, pizza, beer and bowling! Although having an alcoholic drink to accompany your fun is the overall theme of this bar, don’t be put off by this if you are looking for something to do with the children, Roxy Lanes have offers for kids as well, and they are allowed in the venue until 5 pm every day!
Although you would imagine universities hold a lot of old resources for their students, however, there is a lot more held at The University of Leeds than you would think. Hosting two galleries within their grounds, Leeds University is home to some interesting art and historical artefacts. Open to the general public, the Brotherton Gallery and The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery display some of the finest rare books, manuscripts, art and archives from the world-renowned Special Collections. For the art and artefacts enthusiasts among us that don’t already know, this hidden gem is a must visit.
Another hidden gem, this pre-prohibition style bar is very easily miss-able if you don’t already know where it is, just a small doorway situated on Cross Belgrave Street, right next to Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen. Blind Tyger is one of a chain of better-known bars and restaurants in Leeds, including Sandanista, Chida and Smokestack. This bar, however, is a little different, themed as a pre-prohibition bar; they serve one-off ‘bespoke’ cocktails that are sure to be of interest to anyone! Pop in next time you’re passing by, you won’t be disappointed.
This is something a little bit different, a little bit quirky. You very well may have seen this while strolling through Leeds City Centre and not taken much notice of it, or you very well may have never seen it at all! Down Leeds’s oldest street, Kirkgate Street, you will find a collection of words and phrases engraved into the paving stones. These are the words of local poets Anthony Dunn and Peter Spafford and are extracts from poems written about the history of Kirkgate. A very nice touch, added when this area of town was regenerated, showing some heritage of the city itself and showcasing the words of some of the area’s talent!
Leeds Town Hall is still home to some prison cells underneath the main building, dating all the way back to the Victorian times. Known as Bridewell cells, these allow you to delve into the past and see what it would have been like to be a criminal back in the days of Victorian Leeds. Available to visit through tours of the Town Hall, or better yet when attending an event, these cells are often used as unusual event venues for local beers festivals and quirky events. If you haven’t already, we recommend visiting these cells to explore a little bit of our own history.
Describing their bar as ‘prohibition with a modern twist’, this city centre bar is a certain hidden gem. Situated on Call Lane, this bar is hidden behind a door with no sign, meaning there is no indication as to what is behind. Instructed to ‘follow the hidden staircase to the doors emblazoned ‘M’ and you’ll enter a room concealed behind darkened windows’ you will find yourself in a much-hidden bar with an old school feel and a theme of the prohibition era. This theme filters down through every aspect of the bar, including the bar staff, or mixologists as they are better defined, who are suited up in the attire of the times and create an impressive array of cocktails. Describing themselves as ‘the worst kept secret in Leeds nightlife’, visiting The Maven should be near the top of your list of hidden gems to explore in Leeds.
Leeds is a city famous for its public works of art, and in 1998 when the new Jubilee Wing was opened at the Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) a little more art was added to the city. The area leading up to the entrance of the Jubilee Wing was named Jubilee Square and became another art attraction for the city. Sculptor Tom Lomax created some pieces that have since made this entrance to the hospital a very interesting one. The square is an obvious display of creative, artistic minds, with a display of sculptures everywhere you look. The sculptures, known as the ‘Guardian Angels’, are a collective group of sculptures taken from stories and ancient myths. A nice touch, designed to collectively offer ‘a sense of protection and caring’, each unique sculpture watches over patients and loved ones in their time of need.
A sculpture that used to be a large Christmas tree, but is now a collection of old bikes. Sounds a little nonsensical, doesn’t it? But this sculpture is a very interesting one. Situated near the Northern Monk Brewery at Marshall’s Mill, this is a sculpture of 35 recycled fluorescent bikes in a Christmas tree-like build, attached to a large pole. Originally built by Sarah Wigglesworth, the Bike Tree was revamped in 2014 when Leeds was host to the Grand Depart for the Tour de France.
Well known with Yorkshire whisky lovers, but probably not too many others, 51% Bourbon is Leeds’s only specialist whisky bar. Situated just off Call Lane above Hirst’s Yard you will find a haven for whisky lovers, with over 70 types of bourbon to choose from. They describe the theme of the bar as ‘straight spirits, classic rock ‘n’ roll and rough-around-the-edges’ as well as ‘refreshingly straightforward and unpretentious’, reiterating that anyone is welcome… if you can find it. If bourbon is not your thing they also serve a selection of beer and cocktails, so there really is something for everyone. If you’re a Leeds based whisky lover you probably already know about 51% Bourbon, but if not make sure you give this little watering hole a visit! Only open on Fridays and Saturdays, why not counter 51% Bourbon into your next night out on the town?