Leeds, UK is often referred to as the Knightsbridge of the North, ever since the arrival of Harvey Nichols. This city is a magnet for shoppers, particularly those shopaholics that favor designer clothes.
What makes Leeds different from other British cities is that it has hung on to its charming old arcades and restored them. The different shopping areas in the city center are within easy walking distance from each other and much of it is pedestrianised. There are lots of cafes, pubs and bars to recharge the batteries.
Leeds has its share of well-known Department Stores with Debenhams, House of Fraser, and Marks & Spencer on Briggate, and British Home Stores on Albion Arcade. Debenhams and House of Fraser are very good for designer fashion. M&S has a small Food Hall. BHS is part of the Leeds Shopping Plaza.
The city has plenty of shopping centers in which to escape from bad weather. Leeds residents were excited when the Merrion Centre (Merrion Street) opened in the 1960s. Stores include Morrison’s Supermarket and Woolworths. Merrion Superstore is an indoor market at the rear of the center. Leeds Shopping Plaza (Albion Street) has H&M and TK Maxx, where you can spot some bargains. St. John’s Centre (Dortmund Square, off The Headrow) contains Foot Locker and Index and the Café Giardino serves tasty paninis. The Headrow Centre (The Headrow) has HMV, First Sport, Ciro Citterio and an excellent Food Court. The Light (The Headrow) is a mix of designer clothes, restaurants and bars. Browns Restaurant & Bar is elegantly furnished and reasonably priced. Tiger Tiger is a popular bar with the young. There is also a VUE Cinema. Granary Wharf (Canal Basin on the Waterfront) is an underground alternative to the more conventional malls. Built under brick arches, it has independent shops and stalls, bars and eating places. It also serves as a live music venue. The highlight is the Japanese restaurant, Wasabi Teppan Yaki.
Victoria Quarter (Briggate)
Of all the arcades, this one is the most impressive. The buildings are Victorian and Edwardian with elegant facades. When you walk in, don’t forget to look up. The stained glass roof is beautiful with vibrant colors and is the largest of its kind in Europe. Look down too and admire the mosaic floor panels. Here are the prestigious stores, including Gieves and Hawkes, Vivienne Westwood, Karen Millen, and Ted Baker. Most famously, there is Harvey Nichols, the first branch to open outside of London. Five floors of luxury goods awaits, including menswear, womenswear, perfume, beauty products, jewelry, and accessories. Designer labels, such as Alexander McQueen and Gucci vie for attention. You can meet up with friends at the Fourth Floor Café & Bar or in the Ground Floor Espresso Bar, where the tables spill out into the arcade. Heaters are switched on in cold weather to keep the arcade diners warm.
This traditional market is housed in an imposing Edwardian building and it’s the largest indoor market in Europe. There is also an adjacent outdoor market. It’s an Aladdin’s Cave of stalls, selling meat, fish, fruit and vegetables, leather goods, clothes, lighting, fabrics, and much more. The meat vendors are situated on Butchers Row and they can be heard, calling out their bargain sales towards the end of the day.
The Corn Exchange (Call Lane)
The circular Grade I listed building, dating from 1864 is a splendid piece of architecture and has recently been renovated. It used to contain independently owned shops but these were moved out, causing a lot of controversy. New tenants will move in under the proposals for a Food Emporium. There will be an up market restaurant, food retailers and outlets for cookware and kitchen appliances.
The two major book outlets are the chains, Borders and Waterstones. Borders (Briggate) also sells CDs, DVDs and videos. There is a relaxed atmosphere with customers browsing through books on comfy chairs and sofas. Refreshments are available at the Starbucks coffee house. Events include book signings, which attract some famous authors, and children are catered for at story time sessions. The Waterstones branch (Albion Street) is its usual tasteful self and book signings are organized here too. You can relax with a coffee in the Coffee Republic.
Photo of Leeds shopping arcades originally posted by stevecadman