I was going to start off this post by saying that I love to travel, but doesn't everyone? That's possibly a generalisation but I'm definitely not a homebody. Decorating my room with marble, cacti, and IKEA pieces does not work for me no matter how many times I reblog pristine apartments, and I have never felt ready to settle in once space in my entire life. Even now I live in a room I rent off my dad in a house with my siblings, so I could do whatever kind of DIY I want, but spending my dollars on paint and MDF strikes me with a pang of horror. Spending on travel however is my weakness.
My wanderlust travels as far as my purse can take me and I'll keep throwing my pennies into that change jar until it can stretch to far corners of the globe. In the mean time, I utilise my friends across the country for day trips, girly weekends and flying visits. The people at Travelodge (the people, not the puppets!) invited me to take the #Travelogical quiz and find which travel personality I have, and I resulted in being social travelogical; I hunt out the most hip hop happenin' spots (yes I just typed that) and search for the unique personalities of the destination, be it in food, places or people. A few suited cities were recommended for a visit and I chose Leeds! I have only visited there on a university open day almost ten years ago (now that is scary). I'd heard it was a bubbly pot of laid back style with a dash of Northern retro. One trip up the motorway on a Friday eve and we were there!
If I visit a city other than Birmingham, I'm often thankful if each end of the town is a walkable distance apart, and Leeds fits the bill. Staying at the Leeds Central Travelodge did mean we were slap bang in the centre of everything because everything is in the centre! My best gal pal and I checked in, fell into the heavenly cloud of the king size bed, and snuggled down for the night. No of course we didn't - have you read my blog before?! We had a swift cup of tea in the said heavenly bed before squeezing into our Joni jeans and strutting out. I had printed my standard list of places to check out and we were armed with a few recommendations from friends, so our first stop was the elusive looking Smokeshack. Literally around the corner from the hotel, we eyed up a few 'younger' looking doorways before heading up the stairs of this unassuming first floor bar, grabbing a cocktail from the menu. Spotting a couple of people from the calm bar troop upstairs, we headed on up to what was in fact packed out with people jiving to jazz, blues and soul. After chatting to the locals and sipping a few more of the finest cocktails, we checked out the imfamous Mojos (is there somewhere called Mohos or Mojos in every city?) and were presented with hard drinks on arrival, and then interrupted by the bar men dancing across the bar many a time. Leeds has the vibes that only the North can pull off and it was just a damn good time! I don't think I've been anywhere that was less pretentious yet so stylish.
We did retire eventually and had the most satisfying snooze before awaking bright eyed and excited for more. I'd researched The Greedy Pig as a signature spot for a bargain brekky and we took a ten minute walk over to this cute cafe with a menu that even the most delicate person could choose from. I could not differ from a classic (vegetarian) English breakfast and it was big and beautiful. A free steaming mug of tea was the starter to a hearty plate of the classics, plus corn bread and sour dough toast. Delicious does not cover the spot this hit!
We had no plans until a little later so we browsed around the centre with a carrot juice in hand and explored the tiled arcades and marbled archways. There are dinky shops and cute cafes alongside chic designer stores with windows to rival Bond Street. The highlight for me was my first time visiting a Space NK and by God, it was like walking into a YouTube beauty video! Every product I had ever heard of was there, from Sunday Riley Luna to Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel and beyond. Painfully expensive and equally as heartbreaking, we sniffed and sampled our way around the store before leaving empty handed and vowing that we know we've 'made it' when we can exclusively shop there.
We were getting peckish now and I was looking for a hearty yet naughty dish. I had researched the Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen for their famous Belgrave Feast that falls on every second Saturday, and we stepped into the wide bar space full of tempting vendors that pop up during that lucky weekend, from Caribbean to falafel. Mouthwatering! On the roof space (Leed's biggest public rooftop!) there is a bar-come-barbeque, with cute deck chairs, benches and comfy seats to chill, sip and look out over the rooftops of Leeds. It was a fine day so we had a sweet cider and admired the views before choosing which eatery we wanted to try. So many choices!
With different vendors each time, I was so tempted by the mac 'n' cheese from The Mac Shac but I had an insatiable craving for a really good veggie burger and Patty Smiths did not disappoint. Hearty, compact and flavourful, with a gorgeous stroke of mustard, this baby took many, many minutes to finish, complete with a dabble of hand cut fries drowned in ketchup of course. It hit the spot! My friend tried Nasi Lemak Malaysian and reported it was equally as satisfying.
We stayed at The Belgrave for ages as it had such a relaxed vibe, with cute people coming and going from the communal benches and corner nooks. It was literally the dreamiest, most chilled Saturday I've had in so long, and you just don't get that feeling when you are in your own town with your to-do list in your hand.
We finally departed, grabbed some snacks and even managed to fit in a few episodes of Dinner Date at the hotel as we tucked up under the covers and munched away. Lush! Then it was time to begin the process of jazzing up the face and sorting out the hair. When I think back to Uni days when I first really got into makeup, I would spend hours blending and adding and touching up, but now I could do my signature makeup in the dark! This makes life much easier as you can experiment as and when you feel like it.
We stepped out towards Bundobust, a craft beer bar serving a dash of Indian street food, and I sampled a signature Mumbai Mule (Finlandia Vodka, Lime, Spiced Goome & Ginger Beer) as I'm loving ginger beer right now, and it was absolutely delicious! Trusty taste bud-tingling. If I'm ever in Leeds again, I will definitely be checking out the food.
We continued onto The Botanist for some amazing live music and another tasty cocktail (my go-to is a Mohito), before spotting a rooftop bar and taking a chance. We went straight up in a lift to SkyLounge and felt slightly like we were in New York again. There ain't no bar like a rooftop bar! We gossiped in the warm night air and then hopped on to a recommendation called The Maven, where behind an elusive black doorway was a swinging, raucous bar with snazzy cocktails decorated with fresh flowers, and we ended the night at a club that I couldn't actually tell you the name of, but there was a huge queue and I used my new found New York clubbing skills and walked straight up to the entrance. The bouncer asked if we were on the guest list and I gave him a wide eyed look as though he was talking Chinese to me, and he let us in right away! Result!
Fast forward to the morning after and we stocked up at the hearty Travelodge breakfast buffet before departing from Leeds, agreeing it is a city full to the brim of fun, flare and interest. I'll definitely be back soon!