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Leeds’ Best Outdoor spaces

Leeds’ Best Outdoor spaces

Words by
Chapter 81

Leeds city centre used to be a concrete jungle with little greenery or chance for outdoor socialising. How times have changed. City centre redevelopment puts green at the fore, acknowledging how important nature is for a city centre’s residents, and many of Leeds’ restaurants, cafes and bars have followed suit. It also has invested in the thriving night time economy and its outdoor spaces, allowing bars and restaurants to stretch out like a cat in the sun, kicking things off at brunch time. 

No longer do you have to choose between a schlep out to Roundhay Park or a cocktail inside a dark bar when a sunny day calls – nowadays you can get your cocktail, and even your dinner, whilst taking in some glorious rays in the city centre!

For relaxed vibes, great beers, music and some pop-up feasts (as well as pizza courtesy of resident pizzaiolas Dough Boys), the rooftop at Belgrave is the perfect place to go for a relaxed beer. One of the OG rooftop bars of Leeds when Belgrave opened almost a decade ago, the Belgrave rooftop is a relaxed and informal place scattered with umbrellas, astroturf and picnic benches. One for a catch-up with mates and a beer in the sun.

Rather than a rooftop, Issho’s outdoor space is more of a large balcony, perched on the side of the grand glass sculpture that is Victoria Gate. This modern Japanese restaurant offers citywide views, whilst the adjacent Kori Bar has sliding glass doors onto the balcony. It’s from the Kori bar that you can enjoy some outdoor enjoyment. Whether you opt for a cocktail here before moving through to the more formal interior or simply choose a more relaxed brunch, lunch, or afternoon tea here, Kori’s exciting tipples and cocktails are perfect for a rooftop sip in the sun. One for a sunny, dressed-up evening out.

Headrow House was brought to Leeds by the team behind Belgrave, and the atmosphere is similar. Expect plenty of live music events, great food (courtesy of Ox Club) and great drinks. Make sure to check out the newly opened House of Fu just adjacent too, for amazing ramen and dumplings. Head upwards in Headrow House for Redondo Beach Bar and then Kennedy Meadows, the great rooftop space on top of this former warehouse. One to make a day of it in the sun.

Harvey Nichols’ Fourth Floor Brasserie treats diners to a rooftop view over the city’s rooftops with a bank of floor-to-ceiling windows. When the warm days call, opt to dine on The Terrace itself (it’s England, so don’t worry, there’s outdoor heating in case temperatures head south). Enjoy a stylish new menu of light bites, mouth-watering mains and indulgent desserts as well as fine wine and champagne. Gin company The Botanist Gin has even put together a special menu of gin cocktails to enjoy alongside. Cheers! One for a special day out with your mates or partner.

Cocktail bar The Alchemist enjoys a long balcony which wraps right around two sides, affording views down over the hustle and bustle of Boar Lane and Duncan Street far below. Perched on the side of the amazing construction of Trinity Leeds, The Alchemist is renowned for their modern cocktails where mixologists create magic before your eyes. And when your tummy rumbles, there is an appetising food menu to complement your cocktails, from brunch through lunch to dinner (there’s a subheader called ‘buns, bread and beyond’ - so you know they have you covered for carbs to mop up those scrumptious cocktails!). Again, heating lamps make sure that you won’t regret your choice to enjoy being outdoors. One for all-day cocktail celebrations!

Angelica sits even higher up Trinity Leeds, overlooking the great glass construction beneath and perfect for taking in amazing city sunsets. This glass-walled bar and restaurant has its own small terrace menu, featuring special mouthfuls such as chargrilled tiger prawns with garlic butter, roasted garlic arancini with lemon mayo or a charcuterie board of coppa, parma ham, speck, pickles and sourdough. If a cocktail is on the cards, choose between the Ketel One vodka cocktails menu or the full drinks list, indulge in Taittinger champagne, or unique Angelica cocktails such as their Sevilla Negroni or Japanese Swizzel. One to mark a special night, to see and be seen.

The Rooftop at East Parade is the place for weekend vibes in the sun. WIth a live DJ all weekend, stunning views over the city and great drinks, it’s the place to be. Walk-ins only, it may take a bit of queuing depending on your luck, but fear not, you’ll get there eventually (feeling all the more special and exclusive, because you’ll need their weekly code - available on their instagram - for entry). There’s first-come-first-served rain cover and heaters too. They now even serve up sourdough pizzas and loaded fries up there, with vegan and GF options, so once you’re in you’re all set for a session in the sun. One for uniting all your mates for a good time and a good catch up.

From day through to night, this is a stunning, different view over the city centre, looking out from South of the station 13 floors up. Start off your weekend with a bottomless brunch, before moving on to afternoon tea - or their full menu! If you’d prefer to just enjoy cocktails and take in the view, that’s fine too. Sample one or two from Sky Lounge’s Signature Cocktails list, which features unusual takes on classics, such as “Getting High in Yorkshire”, with Slingsby Gin, Slingsby Rhubarb, Yorkshire Tea syrup, Franklin & Sons Tonic, Grapefruit, Lemon, Strawberry, Cucumber and Mint Smoke - which serves 2-3. There’s heating outside too, so your night doesn’t have to end prematurely due to the cold.

On top of the Merrion Centre’s car park, this sizeable outdoor rooftop is a new offering, combining several pop-up stalls for an amazing weekend offering, Thursday ‘til Sunday through the summer. With pop-ups from Leeds legends like Matt Healy (who will be serving up some spectacular tapas and sharing boards), Solita on burgers, wings and more and the Savvy Baker bringing in the sweet stuff with cookies, brownies and blondies, you’re sorted for a day of great eats. There’ll also be amazing DJs, eight stories up, with impressive light boxes giving some real ‘out out’ vibes come evening. Perfect especially for those not ready to commit to a club yet but who are ready for great music, great drinks, great food and great times to be had!

Roland’s is a laid-back bar with a beer yard and a secret roof terrace. Recently opened, the beer yard and roof terrace are cool, intimate spots and Roland’s generally is known for its great vibes, great drinks and live music. Get a bag of Original Chicken Scratchings, a mixed pickles bowl or a good ole’ bag of crisps and settle down to catch up with mates.

Leeds’ Outdoor Spaces

At ground level, Leeds still has plenty of outdoor space to be enjoyed for a drink and a nibble!

Chow Down

The once semi-permanent food festival at Temple Arches has recently announced that it is here to stay! This fully outdoor, open-air drink and dining locale at Temple Arches still feels like a mini-festival, with the party vibe, as well as plenty of great pop-ups from ever-changing local food traders. You’ll also encounter great live music, DJs, fun installs (check out EV Hardaker, the artist working onsite for their first birthday!) and the newly-opened resident cocktail bar, Tipple. Book your own private table, for a three hour slot, and enjoy everything on offer.
Call Lane

We’ve got to admit, COVID has actually brought about some decent change when it comes to encouraging the expansion of brilliant outdoor areas around the city (that’s probably the only positive we can draw!) The once evenings-only vibe of Call Lane has spilled out into an all-day sunny celebration. Much of the space has been pedestrianised, and the restaurants and bars’ tables are spilling out on the pavements, all set to welcome punters for sunny brunches and early afternoon drinks before the evening sets in. Call Lane bars like Oporto, Neon Cactus and Power Corruption and Lies, amongst others, are all making the most of the outdoor space. Rain cover and outdoor heating is provided.

Greek Street

Transformed into a new-look pedestrianised space last year, the popular street for going out hosts plenty of restaurants and bars whose tables now spill out into the street, giving that continental feeling to central Leeds! Take a seat under sprawling umbrellas on wicker chairs at whichever venue you choose, and soak up some sun (or retreat inside should the weather turn). Since the arrival of smart boutique hotel Dakota Deluxe, as well as Manahatta, Tattu, Liquorist and Gusto, amongst others, Greek Street has upped the refinement a notch, making for a really great ambience for a night out - that can start with brunch, should you wish!

Leeds is now well-endowed with gorgeous outdoor spaces in which to drink, dine and relax – so make sure to make the most of every minute of that irresistible and unpredictable British summer sun!


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