Having only been open for just over a year, it’s its remarkable the impression that this new addition to Leeds has had in such a short time. We are definitely not short of atmospheric and luxurious hotels in the city centre but the Dakota Deluxe wins hands down for escapism. Whisked off the busy hen-party filled Greek street, you’d be forgiven for thinking that a hotel nestled so centrally to all the action would continue the party once safely inside, but no. Raucous groups and large parties are discouraged from the main areas and restaurant.
The feeling as you enter the hotel bar is slightly disorientating as moody low lighting and neutral colours infuse the decor. The door swishes closed behind you and you know you’re going to be looked after. A bank of photographs on the walls of silver screen starlets and sirens is a surprisingly feminine touch to a masculine feeling area, you can almost feel the deals being celebrated in the groups dotted around by the business men who frequent the oasis of calm in their busy working week. I got a feel of 1930s glamour, and this was reinforced by the cocktail menu. Prohibition style speakeasy this bar isn’t, but I loved the inclusion of mysterious old fashioned American cocktails like cosmopolitan (1934), Satan’s whiskers, and Fish house punch. The attention to detail and offering something out of the ordinary stands out and explains the busy bar. Courteous and helpful staff asked what we liked to drink and suggested cocktails to suit. And they were delicious!
The restaurant is in the basement beneath the bar area. We were greeted warmly as we descended and quickly taken to our little table and comfy leather seats. The restaurant was filling up fast and the other diners were couples celebrating, ladies late lunching and the requisite men in suits unwinding with drinks. The layout encourages privacy, and larger groups are housed slightly away from dining couples. The masculine feel of the decor continues in the dining room, but balanced with the opulence of lovely furniture. Original artwork with a distinct theme are dotted around and reinforce the manly feel. We had recently heard that for larger groups of diners, private dining was available in the Boardroom which caters for up to 16 people with different menus to suit the occasion. We chose our meals from the very reasonably priced Market menu which started with a complimentary Venetian cheese and tomato dip. This was a lovely way to start the meal, the oozing melting goat’s cheese happily mopped up with the homemade bread. Starters arrived, and my oriental chicken broth with ramen noodles was bursting with fresh flavours and was laced with fresh chillies. Nicola enjoyed potted salmon with melba toast and dill pickles.
The main course was matched with a lovely fresh and fruity white wine, and Ashley the restaurant manager came over and chatted about the delicious menu.
The main course was incredible… my slow roasted belly pork succulent and tasty, the apple mash it was served with a beautiful tangy contrast against the moreish pork. Nicola’s chicken Milanese definitely not run of the mill, it was delicious topped with a parmesan crust and served with buttered spinach. Being greedy we ordered extra vegetables on the side and as delicious as they were they proved to be a little too much as the main on it’s own was filling enough.
There’s always room for dessert! Having read good things about the puddings, I wasn’t going to pass up the chance to end the meal off on a sweet note. I opted for chocolate pave and chose the coconut ice cream to have with it. Delicious, creamy and smooth, the mousse-like dessert was every bit as indulgent as I had hoped. Nicola’s choice of apple tarte tatin however stole the show. Buttery sweet crisp pastry floated on the tongue, small pieces of sweet tangy apple melted in the mouth… an absolute dream dessert. We matched our desserts with a glass of port and an espresso martini as recommended by the attentive Ashley. Never ones to want the evening to end, this last indulgence finished a lovely meal off perfectly.
The service from start to finish was impeccable and exactly what you would expect from such a luxurious venue. Before we left, we had the opportunity to have a look around some of the hotel bedrooms. The Signature Suite we saw was exquisite, a beautifully dressed super king size bed dominated the apartment-style room, with a clever seating area outside of that, huge sofas nestled around an impressive looking TV.
The neutral palate that we saw in the bar and restaurant continues into the bedrooms. Despite the excitement and bustle of Greek street just below us, the room was quiet and restful. The suites have a fascinating angled effect, with walls on a slant which is unique and again matches the ‘Alice in Wonderland’ feeling I had on entering the bar of being slightly disorientated. The beautiful decadence of the decor continues in the hotel hallway where a unique and beautiful African vase balanced on a stand. These beauties are real and casually adorn each floor! Leaving such loveliness to step out onto the cold wet street was hard. For just a few hours we felt like one of the movie stars who have been rumoured to have been guests at the Dakota, like Arnie! And the words of the great man himself sums up how we feel about this lovely place:
We’ll be back
And Arnie, we definitely will be back – Rachael Hoyle Bradwell