Shop 'til you drop! Trinity Leeds is newest retail temple in a city full of northern style
Leeds, an oft unsung northern getaway, has long been known for its lively bars and energetic nightlife. Now, it has added another string to its bow.
More than 130,000 people visited the new Trinity Leeds shopping centre when it opened its doors on a chilly Thursday morning last month.
Money spinner: The £350m Trinity Leeds shopping centre opened in the city in late March
Work on this £350million retail temple restarted in 2010 after a 16-month hiatus caused by the recession saw building falter. When the shopping and leisure centre finally officially opened its doors, there was significant fanfare.
Opening number: The world's longest designer dress, which measured 15 metres and was designed by Henry Holland, was unveiled as Trinity Leeds opened its doors
Travelling up from London early on Thursday morning with my sister Sarah, we arrived to find a city abuzz as the opening event, curated by British fashion designer Henry Holland, kicked off with a display of the world's longest dress.
The centre is still a work in progress to some extent. Popular names such as Victoria’s Secret, Primark and the Everyman Cinema are yet to open.
One innovative feature that more shopping centres should implement was the licensed busking spots dotted around the mall. We counted at least four budding musicians who were playing guitars both inside and outside including a singer called Joseph Francis, who had more than a few female fans watching him strum the guitar.
Trinity Leeds has invested half a
million pounds into a range of artwork for the centre and created 2,600
new jobs across the city.
Paul Smith, Marketing Manager for the centre said: ‘Set in the heart of Leeds and joining
the three busiest shopping streets under our stunning, sweeping dome
roof, Trinity Leeds brings the largest range of shops ever to the city
for visitors to enjoy.
'Pop-up shops, performances and art installations are all in the pipeline', he adds.
Even with the boost of Trinity Leeds, the city perhaps can't quite do battle with some of the nation's other shopping goliaths; the Bullring (Birmingham), Meadowhall (Sheffield) or Trafford Centre (Manchester).
Raise the roof: It's been a jittery start for Trinity Leeds - after the recession stalled building - but the centre is now open
However, there are lots of shopping gems spread out across the city. Sitting between Briggate and Vicar Lane is the upmarket Victoria Quarter, which is home to luxury stores and an undeniably fabulous interior of marble and mosaics.
Harvey Nichols is the stand-out store in the Victoria Quarter with its fashionably-dressed customers and glamorous neighbouring shops. But it isn’t just shopping that the West Yorkshire city has to offer - there is fine-dining galore and for culture vultures, museums, art and theatres.
Who needs London, Manchester or Birmingham? Leeds has some architectural gems including the beautiful Corn Exchange (pictured left) and plenty of big name shops such as Harvey Nichols (right)
I was pleasantly surprised to see Refugee Boy, a novel by Benjamin Zephaniah about a 14-year-old refugee from Ethiopia and his stay in London, showing at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. Starring Fisayo Akinade as refugee Alem Kelo, the packed-out theatre sat enthralled by the small cast and great acting.
Urban playground: Leeds has plenty to attract weekenders
With an appetite worked up after an afternoon of shopping and entertainment, Sarah and I were more than ready to tuck into a hearty meal. Dinner at Piazza By Anthony was just the ticket - with an amazing setting in the historic landmark building, the Corn Exchange.
This brasserie-style restaurant sits in the Grade I listed building and its simple yet enticing menu is perfectly paired with stunning surroundings.
Feast your eyes: Piazza by Anthony in the Corn Exchange matches 'exquisite' food with an historic setting
A starter of scallops and chorizo was washed down with a large glass of Malbec. For my main, I devoured a medium sirloin steak with chunky chips and my first cocktail of the evening. Sarah opted for seabass and a 'dirty margarita'.
While my Manhattan wasn’t the best I’d ever had, the service with good and the exquisite dining experience thus far had me too full to even consider ordering a dessert.
As a self-confessed lover of cocktails, I have tasted more than my fair share of good and bad concoctions. With Piazza By Anthony whetting my appetite for the sweet mixtures, our next stop was Jake’s Bar.
Drink as art: Jake's Bar takes pride in producing bespoke cocktails
Picture this: The New Ellington is a chic bolt-hole in the city centre
The small venue on Calls Lane had simple decor and a warm, inviting atmosphere. Most importantly, the cocktails were better than most that I have tried in London’s abundance of bars.
Our barman offered to make Sarah her very own Martini that combined absinthe, vodka, gin and some lychee fruit juice that went down even better the second time around.
The funky, laid back music and vibe in Jake’s, and the fabulous drinks, kept us in there for another couple of hours until we had to prise ourselves out to try a couple more venues.
Unfortunately, the bitter cold and the copious amounts of alcohol forced us to retire back to our boutique hotel, The New Ellington, a little earlier than envisaged.
The large bedrooms at this stylish hotel are surprisingly quiet considering it is so central. Located just five minutes walk from the main shops and sitting near the train station it was easy to find.
The bedrooms boasted a gold, blue and red colour scheme - slippers and bathrobes welcomed us - and the grandiose reception area was stylish, with friendly staff.
Bringing the outdoors in, the bar was decorated with trees delicately illuminated with fairy lights.The New Ellington also specialises in gin and a two-page menu is available for the more daring drinker.
Shopping emporium Trinity Leeds may be grabbing the headlines at the moment but it's the easy chat of the locals and some very cool bars and restaurants that will stay with me.
Return train tickets from London to Leeds start at £49, visit www.eastmidlandstrains.co.uk
The New Ellington Hotel offers overnight accommodation, breakfast and shopping vouchers for Trinity Leeds for £225 per couple, visit www.thenewellington.com
More information on Anthony's Restaurant can be found at www.anthonysrestaurant.co.uk/piazza/
For more information on Leeds, visit www.visitleeds.co.uk
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