What turns a city into a world-class shopping destination? Is it a thriving independent scene, gleaming malls, luxury department stores or traditional markets? Well Leeds has all of this and more. And even better, this diverse shopping scene is also wonderfully compact and easily walkable. No wonder Leeds was named best shopping destination in the UK in the latest Rough Guide to Britain. If you’re in town for a weekend of retail relaxation, where should you head for first?
Although Leeds was already a retail powerhouse, the opening of the uber modern Trinity Leeds shopping centre in 2013 turned the city into a retail destination like no other. Boasting 120 stores under its beautiful, glass-domed roof, this is brand heaven, with big hitters like Topshop, Mango and Urban Outfitters rubbing fashionable shoulders with others, like Models Own, that can’t be found anywhere else in the UK outside of the capital.
Vivienne Westwood, Azendi, Mulberry, Jo Malone... If you like your shopping of the luxury variety, point your designer shoes in the direction of the Victoria Quarter. This beautifully restored Victorian arcade boasts the biggest stained glass roof and is filled with marble pillars, intricate mosaics and boutique shopping at its finest. Easily the most upmarket shopping centre in the city, it’s so posh, Louis Vuitton has its own VIP suite here.
Leeds has a thriving independent shopping scene, but its hub is situated in the Corn Exchange, just a five minute walk from the station. Housed in a spectacular building that dates back to 1865, you could easily spend half a day here browsing among the shops, salons and cafes, selling everything from art and fashion, to handmade jewellery and beauty products. There are two floors of boutiques and some table tennis tables in the basement.
Opened in 2016, Victoria Gate is the newest addition to the Leeds shopping scene - and what a beauty it is, with its curved glass panels and intricate steel roof. The shops on the inside don’t disappoint either. Victoria Gate has a five storey John Lewis complete with a huge indoor spa, and not one but 17 new-to-Leeds stores. There’s Anthropologie for clothing, gifts and homewares, Ghost for designer dresses and Honey Birdette for statement lingerie.
If it’s pouring down, a trip to the White Rose shopping centre is a great idea. Just three miles south of the city centre, it’s easy to get to by bus and there’s plenty of parking. Once inside you’ll find 120 shops from Ann Summers to Zara. It’s great for the little ones too as there’s a Build-A-Bear Workshop and the Disney Store. Grab some fast food in the food court, or head to Pizza Express, Prezzo or Nando’s if you’d prefer to take your time.
This out-of-town retail park is on the south side of Leeds city centre and is easy to get to by car with plenty of free parking. It’s well-known for its big branches of Next, Argos and Mothercare as well as furniture shops such as Bensons for Beds and Oak Furniture Land. But the biggest draw for bargain hunters is the Marks & Spencers outlet store that’s situated here, offering the same quality products at massive reductions.
From the city centre to its leafy suburbs and beautiful surrounding countryside, you'll find lots of great hotels in Leeds. If you need to be central, try the First Direct Arena Hotel and Trinity Leeds Hotel, or Leeds City West for Elland Road. For those jetting in, check out Leeds/Bradford Airport hotel.