Art Hostel, Leeds: hotel review

Leeds finally has its own arty city-centre hostel, a revamped listed building with installations and bespoke design touches

Leeds has always been an unusually style-conscious city. It loves hot trends. In the 1990s, its clubs Back To Basics and Vague popularised glam clubbing and, famously, Leeds was the first city outside London to get a Harvey Nics. More recently (check this, Dalston!), its huge Trinity shopping centre opened a street food court at a time when most northerners still thought “street food” meant Greggs (personally, I still do).

What Leeds has not been, though, is important creatively. While Liverpool and Manchester put in the hard yards to create seismic pop-cultural moments, Leeds has been too busy checking its designer labels. Outside of its vibrant but tiny DIY underground, this has chiefly been a city of consumption, not creativity. That would explain why Leeds has probably the UK’s best craft beer bar circuit (but only two notable breweries), and why its food scene – from Bundobust’s Gujarati snacks to the Michelin-starred Man Behind The Curtain – trumps that of its northern rivals.

Outside of Leeds’ vibrant but tiny DIY underground, this has chiefly been a city of consumption, not creativity

There is also a shelf of books … will it be Hegel’s Introductory Lecture On Aesthetics or The Art of Walt Disney?

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