We are very, very blessed up north to have a huddle of properly brilliant cities all sitting side-by-side.
There is, of course, our gorgeous home of Greater Manchester – but from here, within an hour, you could be soaking in the culture and beauty of Leeds, Sheffield or Liverpool, not to mention all the towns and villages in between.
The quick trip across to Leeds in West Yorkshire makes for a stress-free weekend break without having to travel halfway across the globe for a change of scenery.
So we asked the experts over in Leeds to plan us the perfect weekend in their beautiful city (the experts being our friends at The Hoot, along with Visit Leeds) – and boy did they deliver.
So here is the ultimate guide to how to spend a weekend in Leeds.
As literally everyone’s mum says, breakfast is the most important meal of the day – and the fact you can order your brekkie inside a Yorkshire pudding makes this the most important breakfast in the north.
Wapentake is as proudly Yorkshire as it comes, a higgledy-piggledy cafe and bar on Kirkgate.
If the full baked-eggs-in-a-Yorkshire-pudding isn’t for you, they also whip up an excellent full English – with Hendo’s baked beans, black pudding and crispy hash browns.
There’s also a secret sun trap out the back, complete with two seats on the balcony that have got to be some of the most sought-after in Leeds.
Now you’re fuelled up a bit, it’s time to soak in some of the culture in Leeds, with loads to do within walking distance of Wapentake.
That’s another one of the beautiful things about Leeds – there’s a lot of vibrancy jammed in to its relatively small city centre, so you’ll always find something to do within a 10 minute wander.
You’ll be just a short stroll from Kirkgate Market, where you can visit the very first Marks and Spencer store (it started life as a Penny Bazaar), plastered with historical memorabilia.
Then nip across the road to marvel at the impressive Corn Exchange, where independent shops and brands are packed in beneath the beautiful domed ceiling.
Whether you like a bit of retail therapy or not, the arcades around the city centre are a must-visit – they’re just stunning.
And then of course there’s Leeds Library, a cosy spot that just so happens to be one of the oldest buildings in the city, dating back to 1768.
Now it’s time for the sandwiches worth travelling for. Trust us.
Things in Bread is a tiny little lunch spot which sells… well… things in bread. When they launched this year, demand was so high they kept running out of bread before lunch.
The fish finger butty, laden with tartare sauce, is a must.
Anyone who comes to Leeds and bypasses a trip to Doh Hut needs to take a long hard look in the mirror.
These fluffy, pillowy doughnuts are the best around, with new specials luring in customers every week.
Their staples include classic jam fillings, vanilla creme patisserie, and chocolate ganache, but the special on our visit was packed with a Caramac custard, complete with a perfect golden blondie jammed on top.
By now it’s mid-afternoon and time to get checked in to a pad for the night.
There are loads of brilliant hotels around Leeds, like the first-of-its-kind (and affordable) Art Hostel, where each room has been designed by a different artist.
Then there’s the ever-reliable The Marriott, which is in a perfect spot for exploring.
It’s got big bouncy beds, great views, and gorgeous interiors, so you can take a breather and chill out ready for an evening of fun.
The Marriott is also home to a brand new restaurant from Gino D’Acampo himself, which leads us neatly onto our next activity…
Gino’s new restaurant in Leeds has a stunning bar attached, with cocktails poking fun at the man himself with names like ‘If My Grandmother Had Wheels’.
You could sit here and sip on the show-stopper ‘Main Character Energy’, a blend of gin, Aperol, elderflower, pink grapefruit and lime, which is served with a huge bubble on top that releases a cloud of rosemary when it pops.
Or you could bid farewell to your hotel for a few hours and have a pit-stop at Headrow House, which has a truly phenomenal rooftop space that Manchester should be very jealous of.
Drinks done, and we’re now just a short walk from dinner…
For dinner, you’ll be spoiled for choice, but the newly-opened Three’s A Crowd is causing quite a stir in Leeds.
They serve modern British dishes with a sophisticated twist, from sharing small plates to bigger plates (the homemade gnocchi with wild garlic and pea puree is a must).
We devoured a table full of vibrant, fresh plates, like hummus with za’atar flatbread, grilled asparagus with green tahini sauce, and salt baked celeriac with caramelised onion and Old Winchester.
All with huge windows that are great for people-watching, and served alongside a decent wine and cocktail list.
If you’re after a truly special drinks experience, you need to seek out Below Stairs, a hidden gem of a cocktail bar beneath South Parade.
Their menu is full of interactive drinks, like The Individualist, a rum-and-gin-based cocktail served with edible paint – you can paint different flavours onto the rim of your glass to hone your perfect serve.
There’s also Hope, a creamy apple-hued cocktail topped with a disc of white chocolate, which is lit by the bar staff to resemble a candle.
Moving on for another drink, and no trip to Leeds would be complete without a visit to Roland’s.
We have it on good authority that Roland’s serves the best espresso martini in the country – and it’s pretty hard to argue.
Alrighty, it’s the next morning, and if you’ve nailed the after-dinner cocktails, you’ll be wanting a pick-me-up.
North Star is a must-try, providing beans for a lot of the coffee shops around town as well as running a few of its own venues.
They prioritise people and planet before profit, and what’s not to love about that?
We nipped into their Kiosk on Sovereign Street for a flat white, an iced latte and a pastry, then hit the road for another day of exploring Leeds.
Walks (or rides) along the water
The south side of Leeds city centre is built around the River Aire, which makes for a beautiful walk on a sunny day.
Or, if it’s running, the Leeds Water Taxi is an absolute bargain and such a fun way to see a city centre from a new perspective.
The Water Taxi will whisk you down to Leeds Dock, where there’s a floating book shop, Hold Fast, and where you can visit a pretty remarkable attraction…
Spanning five floors and packed with more than 4,500 objects, this purpose-built museum shows off the UK’s national collection of arms and armour.
There’s a huge sweeping staircase where the walls are lined with swords, spears and armour, a display that features the ‘pulse rifle’ from the Aliens film, and all sorts of other fascinating items dating back hundreds of years.
Sunshine drinks and lunch
If the sun is still out (and you’ve got a much better chance of blue skies in Leeds than you do in Manchester), you’ll be right beside Canary Bar.
This two-storey bright yellow shipping container has a rooftop terrace that looks right across the water, though you can duck inside if the weather turns.
But sipping on an Aperol Spritz on top of the container feels a bit like sitting on top of the world.
Manchester Airport announces direct flights to Las Vegas from 2024
Manchester Airport has announced that passengers will once again be able to catch a direct flight to Las Vegas from next year.
The bright lights of the fabulous Las Vegas are calling.
When it comes to non-stop flights, those jetting off on holiday from Manchester Airport currently have over 169 exciting destinations in 50 countries to choose from – but now, you can add the party capital of the US to that list, as Virgin Atlantic has confirmed that its latest direct route from the Northern hub is Las Vegas.
The Nevada hotspot has always been a popular travel destination, not only because of its legendary nightlife scene, but also thanks to the fact it provides a gateway to the wide range of attractions in America’s West.
The stunning scenery of the Grand Canyon and Yosemite National Park, the Pacific Highway, and the major cities of San Francisco, San Diego, and Los Angeles, are all within reaching distance from the desert city – which is presumably why Virgin Atlantic has chosen it as its next direct route from Manchester.
Starting from 2 June 2024, three flights a week will depart from Manchester Airport Las Vegas.
Flights to Las Vegas will operate on Virgin Atlantic’s newest Airbus A350-1000 aircraft, and will be added to the US routes already available through the airline from Manchester Airport to Orlando, New York, and Atlanta
The new Las Vegas route makes Manchester the only airport in the UK outside London to fly directly to America’s West Coast.
“It’s hugely exciting to see the return of Virgin Atlantic’s direct service to Las Vegas, which has always been one of our most popular long-haul routes,” Manchester Airport’s Managing Director, Chris Woodroofe, said of the new flight destination.
“As the UK’s global gateway in the North, it’s great to work with airline partners like Virgin Atlantic to connect the region directly to as many destinations around the globe as possible.
“I am sure this service will be really popular with passengers and we look forward to continuing our work with Virgin Atlantic to further grow its route network from its Northern home in Manchester in the years to come.”
I hate cars. Well, hate is a strong word. I’m very uninterested in cars. As long as they get me from A to B without blowing up, I’m happy.
So when Tesla got in touch to see if I would be interested in trying one out, I was a little apprehensive. Surely it’s just a bit of a gimmick? The tech isn’t quite there yet? It’s just a car, who cares? I was wrong. After about four seconds, I cared.
Arriving at the Tesla showroom on Wellington Road in Stockport was like stepping into the future. Everything was sleek and clean with free coffee from one of those fancy pod machines where they’re all a different colour and you don’t really know what you’re getting but it’s free so who cares?! I did feel slightly out of place with all the fancy cars – how did this lad who grew up in Hazel Grove end up in here?
But the keys (well… a credit card-shaped key, because Tesla LOVES fancy tech) to my shiny blue Tesla Model Y in my hand, I was off to explore the north west and test it out.
The newest Teslas come with so many features, from built-in ‘Camp Mode’ to Netflix, that I thought I may as well just not leave the car for a day – bar bathroom breaks and other essential errands.
With so many features to try, my first stop was Leeds to visit the team at The Hoot for some car-eoke. The drive there was super smooth and I even let the car’s autopilot do most of the work for me. It was scary to begin but once you’re used to it it makes motorway driving a dream. The car-eoke feature is a great opportunity to blast out some ballads and keep everyone entertained.
Then it was back across the M62 to pick up a couple of Manc mates, heading off to Chaiiwala’s new drive-thru in Bolton.
Let me tell you, there is nothing more entertaining then unexpectedly flooring it and seeing your co-workers’ shocked faces as they’re soaked with colourful iced tea. Fuelled with delicious Indian street food, we sat and played around with the settings, finding it hilarious (because we are overgrown children) that you can set everything from the indicators to the horn to make fart noises. Less hilarious when I forgot to undo the settings and turned up to a client meeting with the car farting everywhere…
The Model Y is big enough to sleep in, with mattresses available from Tescamp on Amazon. My husband and I took it to a field in Rochdale to sleep under the stars – which you can see through the Tesla’s expansive sun roof. The Tesla has camping mode, which keeps the car cool and comfortable throughout the night.
With all the driving around and camping overnight, the Tesla needed a charge. Handily, the built in Google Maps could direct me to my closest Tesla supercharger, which can be found at the Trafford Centre. The perfect opportunity to get a bit of shopping in and catch an episode of something on Netflix IN THE CAR while it charged, which only took about 40 minutes.
Car charged, it was time to recharge my own batteries, driving on over to Oldham to try out the incredible cakes at Wonderlust Bistro & Bakery – a true hidden gem that everyone should check out.
Surprisingly, we were still hungry after that and luckily for us the Tesla has an ‘I’m hungry’ button (which I would like to have by my side at all times), so we let the car decide. It chose the delectable Lily’s Vegetarian in Ashton, where we could barely make a dent in the huge menu of Indian dishes.
I ended up having the car for around two weeks and I was genuinely heartbroken to give it back. It drives so well, has so many cool features and you feel special driving it. Everyone looks at you with awe when you’re in it too… even if you then startle with them with a very loud fart noise.
About the car
The Model Y is their fully electric, small crossover SUV
It can drive up to 330 miles on a full charge
It can do 0-60 in as little at 3.5 seconds
Has surround HD cameras – perfect for manoeuvring and showing your blind spots when changing lanes
Build in HD screen with access to Netflix, Disney+ and games
Autopilot for self-driving fun
5 star rating for safety
Huge boot capacity with storage in the bonnet too
Individually collapsible seats in the rear
Pet mode to keep your pets cool and comfortable if they have to be left in the car
Camping mode – so you can take the Tesla anywhere and sleep in it
Off Roading capability with superior traction control
Dual motors independently controlling the torque for the front and rear wheels
Superfast charging – charge up to 150 miles in just 15 mins
Tesla vision – detects nearby cars to help prevent collisions
Expansive glass roof
15 inch touchscreen display
Over air software updates
Fully customisable to each driver – it remembers your seat position and everything!