It’s not as if Leeds folk need an excuse to dress up but with Christmas well and truly upon us why not put on your finest finery and make like a real lounge lizard to one of the city’s best hotel bars.
A multi-million pound refurb has given the Malbar, housed in one of Leeds’ eye-catching Victorian buildings, a new lease of life It was looking a bit dark and dingy and the footballers and WAGs had long since moved on but after a multi-million pound refit, the Malmaison is back in business. Set in the basement, the Malbar and Chez Mal brasserie are still moody looking: acres of gleaming mahogany, black leather and subdued lighting but the ambience is more New York than York Road (for the uninitiated, a very unlovely part of Leeds) and the footballers have been replaced with the likes of MOBO Awards movers and shakers. Warm up with a Gingerbread Martini or Mal Mulled Cider with Spiced Rum cocktail, which start at £5. And if you just can’t tear yourself away you can always check in to one of the upgraded rooms upstairs.
Malbar, Malmaison, 1 Swinegate, Leeds LS1 4AG, 0113 426 0047, malmaison.com
The Gin Garden, The New Ellington
Specialist gin bar in Leeds’ financial district offering over more than 300 varieties A bit of a schlepp in six-inch heels, it’s worth the effort nonetheless, whether gin is your tipple or not. The Gin Garden at the New Ellington Hotel in Leeds’ Georgian financial district stocks more than 300 varieties of the stuff, most of which you’ll never have heard of unless you’re a seasoned connoisseur. Take your pick from Slingsby, Masons Yorkshire Gin, Brockmans and Opirh or ask one of the seasoned mixologists to knock you up a cocktail or three. Meanwhile, kick off those heels and relax in the plush Art Deco surroundings.
23-25 York Pl, Leeds, LS1 2EY, 0113 204 2150, thenewellington.com
Fire Lake Grill House and Cocktail Bar, Radisson Blu
A once faded hotel bar rises Phoenix-like from the ashes of corporate blandness after a multi-million pound splurge Long overdue for refurb, £3.5m has been thrown at this 147-room hotel, housed in a handsome 1930s’ building on the junction of Cookridge Street and The Headrow. Gone are the dowdy beiges, browns and washed out olive green arm chairs; in their place cool greys, chocolate leather and funky bar stools. In the new Fire Lake Grill House and Cocktail Bar, the first one outside the USA, bold artwork pays homage to local heritage, with nods to various to Leeds legends such as the late Peter O' Toole, who grew up in the city. As many dishes as possible are wood and flame-cooked, or wood-smoked and organic cocktails have been barrel-aged.
1 The Light, The Headrow, Leeds, LS1 8TL, 0113 2366000, radissonblu.com
SkyLounge, DoubleTree by Hilton
Try a cocktail masterclass while you enjoy the view from this rooftop lounge bar With arguably the best views of any bar in Leeds, the SkyLounge, located in Granary Wharf, was awarded a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence in 2014 and makes the ideal setting to watch the lights, festive and otherwise, twinkling below. As well as drinking them, try your hand at making cocktails at a masterclass - to the accompaniment of live music every Thursday. Want somewhere to park all those bags in the January sales? Then turn up and get 10 per cent off afternoon tea with a free glass of Prosecco.
Chino Latino, Park Plaza
Asian-inspired restaurant and cocktail bar with a varied food and cocktail offering Luxurious or louche, depending on your taste, this Tokyo-inspired wine bar and restaurant (expect lots of black lacquered wood, crimsons and low-slung seating) specialises in pan-Asian and modern Japanese cuisine. Baby squid and tamarind with cherry tomato, miso mustard chicken and crispy duck with hoi sin pancakes make up a few of the dishes on an extensive menu. Set out by spirit type - rum, agave, cachaça, bourbon, vodka & gin and champagne - the cocktail menu also has a “sharing” selection for large groups and mocktails for those unlucky enough to be doing the driving. The Christmas menu starts at £20 per person for a set lunch, £58 on New Year’s Eve, including Champagne and canapes on arrival and live entertainment until the early hours.
Royal Exchange House, Boar Lane, Leeds, LS1 5NS, 0113 380 4080, chinolatino.eu