Leeds, a city brimming with culture and history, is home to some hidden treasures known only to locals. From a charming beer garden with a view of passing trains at Roland’s to a bookshop dedicated to LGBTQIA+ literature at The Bookish Type, these secret spots add to the unique character of Leeds.
What are the secret spots only locals know about in Leeds?
- Roland’s – A beer garden with a unique train-spotting view.
- The Bookish Type – An LGBTQIA+ focused indie bookshop.
- Piglove By the River – A brewery tap with riverside views.
- The Leeds Library – The UK’s oldest subscription library.
- Take It Easy Film Lab – A film development lab with a personal touch.
- Sweet Saeeda – Authentic Tunisian cuisine in Kirkgate Market.
- Tartarus Brewery – A hidden taproom with craft beers.
- Crown Hotpot – A communal dining hotpot experience.
- Plant and Deck – A shop for house plants and electronic music.
- ‘Echoes’ mural – A street art piece that connects history with the present.
Leeds, a city teeming with culture and history, has a veritable trove of hidden gems known mostly to its locals. These secrets span the gamut from culinary delights to quirky cultural spots, and even to lush green escapes within the city’s urban sprawl. Here’s an exploration of some of those best-kept secrets that give Leeds its unique character.
The Tiny Beer Garden with a View
Nestled behind an understated bar front on Call Lane, Roland’s is a treasure waiting to be discovered. Ascend the steps beyond the bar and you’ll find yourself in a snug beer garden, a perfect nook for sunny afternoons. It’s not just the charm of the space that captivates, but also the unique vantage point it offers for train-spotting—the tracks are just a stone’s throw away.
A Bookshop for the Queer Community
Within the Merrion Centre lies The Bookish Type, a haven for LGBTQIA+ literature. This indie bookshop is a wellspring of queer voices, offering an array of genres from poetry to non-fiction. Their Pay It Forward scheme reflects a commitment to inclusivity and accessibility, ensuring everyone can enjoy the power of a good book.
Riverside Brewery Bliss
Piglove By the River is a hideaway that marries craft beer with riverside serenity. Located in the Climate Innovation District, this brewery tap is a local favourite for its selection of brews and the occasional street food vendor. Whether you’re in for the Piglove classics or experimental ales, this spot is an ode to Leeds’ innovative spirit.
The Legacy of the Leeds Library
As the oldest surviving subscription library in the UK, The Leeds Library stands as a testament to the city’s literary heritage. Founded in 1786, its Georgian architecture houses a wealth of knowledge across two floors of mahogany shelves. Public tours offer a glimpse into this bastion of books, which remains a vibrant part of Leeds’ cultural landscape.
Film Development with a Personal Touch
Take It Easy Film Lab is a family-owned gem that revives the analogue charm of film photography. Situated on Aire Street, this lab offers a diverse array of services—from developing to scanning—and even boasts a convenient letterbox drop for after-hours submissions. Their dedication to film is a delightful anachronism in the digital age.
Tunisian Delights in Kirkgate Market
Tucked away in Leeds Kirkgate Market, Sweet Saeeda serves up authentic Tunisian cuisine that’s as rich in flavour as it is in value. From generously filled wraps to a Tunisian plate that promises a culinary journey, this stall is a celebration of taste, bringing a slice of North African zest to the heart of Leeds.
Craft Beers and Hidden Taprooms
In the know Leeds residents flock to Tartarus Brewery for an eclectic range of beers that push the boundaries of brewing. Hidden within Sheepscar Grove, this taproom is a cornucopia of craft beers, including the indulgent Raspberry Chocolate Cake Stout. With a welcoming, alternative vibe, Tartarus is a cult favourite for those seeking bold flavours and new experiences.
A Hotpot Experience Like No Other
Crown Hotpot beckons the adventurous to Taste the Orient supermarket’s top floor. This hotpot restaurant introduces a communal dining experience, inviting guests to cook their selection of fresh ingredients right at the table. This interactive meal is not just about the food—it’s about creating memories with every simmering pot.
Vinyl and Verdure Combined
An unusual combination of interests converges at Plant and Deck. As a purveyor of eclectic house plants and electronic music, this store is a unique cultural crossroads for plant enthusiasts and vinyl collectors alike. Located in The Imaginarium, it’s a niche paradise for those seeking to spruce up their living space with greenery and grooves.
Street Art that Tells a Story
On the walls of a former pub in Mabgate, the ‘Echoes’ mural—part of East Street Arts’ ‘A City Less Grey’ initiative—stands as a large-scale canvas that connects past and present. Add Fuel, the artist, pays homage to Leeds’ Burmantofts pottery with intricate, reimagined tile patterns that echo the city’s historical artistry.
These are but a few of the secrets that Leeds keeps. Each speaks to the city’s vibrant undercurrent of creativity and community. The myriad secrets are a call to explore, to look beyond the obvious, and to appreciate the nuances that make Leeds such a compelling place to live and visit.
- Roland’s is a beer garden in Leeds that offers a unique train-spotting view.
- The Bookish Type is an indie bookshop in Leeds dedicated to LGBTQIA+ literature.
- Piglove By the River is a brewery tap in Leeds with stunning riverside views.
- The Leeds Library is the oldest subscription library in the UK, showcasing Leeds’ literary heritage.
- Take It Easy Film Lab is a family-owned film development lab in Leeds that celebrates the charm of film photography.