When it comes to drinks, Leeds really does offer the best of the best, with a mix of budget-friendly chains, local independent pubs and upmarket city-centre bars. Whether you want a classy, cocktail night-out; a night of singing your heart out, accompanied by a stein, at Bierkeller; or a cheap night out at spoons when your student loan is running low, you’ll find it all in Leeds.
If you’re looking for something a bit more low-key, Leeds also has several secret bars waiting to be discovered (that is, if you know where to look…) One of my personal favourites is the Tiki Hideaway, which is hidden above one of the most popular bars on Call Lane: Call Lane Social Club. The bar is so secretive I didn’t even realise I’d gone into a different bar when I first went there. It really lives up to its name, with the décor being all-out-Tiki themed. The bar itself is fashioned as a kind of tiki beach hut, embellished with bright, colourful lights, and bunting which makes you feel as if you’re in a tropical paradise far, far away from Leeds. They have an extensive list of delicious fruity cocktails for you to try, and you can watch the extravagant cocktail making process unfurl right in front of you (order the ‘Zombie’ to live out every pyromaniac’s dream and witness your cocktail be literally set on fire before your very eyes)! If you’re in need of a holiday but can’t quite afford that plane to the Caribbean, the Tiki Hideaway is your next best thing.
Another bar hidden within a bar, and another favourite among those in Leeds, is 7 Greek Street Social, which can be found in the basement underneath The Liquorist. Unlike the Tiki Hideaway, which is accessed by going through Call Lane Social Club, the only way to enter this bar is by phone. When you get to Greek Street, instead of going up the stairs to The Liquorist, take the stairs down to the basement and you will see a mysterious red phone. Pick it up and call the bar to gain secret access (and feel like your very own VIP). Inside, the bar is dark and atmospheric with its very own DJs on the decks. There is also a unique cocktail menu, offering alternatives to the more traditional cocktails you might expect, adding to the cool, mysterious vibe.
Everyone knows how it is… you get to uni and suddenly you’re drinking more alcohol and getting more takeaways, and soon you forget what exercise even is, becoming out-of-breath as you tackle the Roger Stevens steps. Fear not! Here is your definitive guide to exercising in Leeds.
The gym always seems like a good idea. You promise yourself you’ll make the most of that membership and stay motivated, but it gets to week 5 of uni and you find yourself under a heap of essays, and the treadmill is the last thing on your mind. Nonetheless, if you’re one of these people who can motivate themselves to go on a regular basis, or you have a group of friends around you to keep you going, then there’s plenty of options for you to get your gym-fix in Leeds.
One of the most accessible options for students is The Edge on campus. The Edge has an extensive range of equipment and classes for you to use, meaning that there’s something for everyone and you can keep switching things up when you get bored. They offer a range of memberships for different prices, and you can even buy a classes only pass if the gym isn’t your thing but you still want to keep fit. There’s no joining fee for annual passes and, if you’re worried about losing motivation half-way through the year but still want to give it a try, you can buy a monthly pass. Monthly passes offer all the benefits of an annual pass, but without the commitment… and as you are only contracted to a minimum of two months, you don’t have to pay for your gym membership when you’re home over the holidays. Although a slightly pricier option, The Edge definitely has its benefits, and you might feel more motivated to go with it right on your doorstep.
The second gym to mention, which is definitely cheaper than The Edge, is Xercise4Less, located down at Cardigan Fields. Although a bit further afield, this gym is much kinder on a student-budget, and if you have a Xercise4Less gym in your hometown you can use it when you’re home for the holidays. The one down-side is that the minimum contract length is a year, paid up-front, so if you don’t stick it out you’ll be paying for the whole year. Xercise4Less allow a three month ‘freeze’ on your membership, but as holidays usually take up half of the year, once again you could end up paying for times when you have no access. Undoubtedly a cheaper option in theory, there are both pros and cons to joining Xercise4Less.
My final suggestion – and the most student-friendly, being absolutely free – is the Parkrun which takes place in Hyde Park (Woodhouse Moor) every Saturday morning at 9am. Parkruns consist of a 5km timed run, and take place all across the country (so if you’re really into it you can continue running even when you’re home for the holidays). The event is for people of any ability, so even if it’s your very first time everyone is really friendly and supportive. All you need to do is register before your very first Parkrun. So drag your hungover housemates out of bed on a Saturday morning and start your weekend off with a group run… you know you want to.
Did you know that the first ever film was actually shot in Leeds in 1888? To commemorate this pretty cool fact, we’ve rounded up some of the best spots for you to go and see a film in Leeds.
The first place to mention has to be Hyde Park Picture House. Located in the very heart of students-ville, and branded the “cosiest in Leeds” when it was first opened in 1914, the cinema shows a range of films from arthouse movies to big, new releases. It still boasts many of its original features, including an ornate balcony and external box office. Offering student tickets from as little as £6, it’s budget-friendly and offers an immersive and atmospheric experience, harking right back to the origins of cinema.
Another student-friendly option, and somewhere similarly independent and full of history (it’s actually the oldest cinema in Leeds), is Leeds Cottage Road Cinema in Headingley. This cinema offers student tickets for the same price as Hyde Park Picture House, and has a special, classic film night every six weeks known as ‘Classics at the Cottage’ (past films have included Breakfast at Tiffanys, Some Like It Hot, and Cabaret).
So next time you decide to head to the cinema, think about supporting one of your local, independent cinemas instead of splashing out on double the cash at one of the more well-known chains. What the Hyde Park Picture House and Cottage Road Cinema lack in IMAX and 3-D, they make up for in charm and atmosphere.