Where is it?
Slap-bang in the heart of Leeds, overlooking the Leeds-Liverpool canal, holds its own in a line of warehouse conversions. It's just off the loop-road beside Leeds parish church, in a tiny cobbled forecourt. Address: 42, The Calls, Leeds, LS2 7EW (tel: 0113 244 0099).
What's it like?
Intimate if a bit fussy. The small reception area is peppered with modern objets d'art and contemporary paintings, as are the 41 individually designed rooms. The hippo table in the foyer, by furniture designer Derek Pearce, is something of a classic. Rather like the hotel.
Peaceful at weekends, businesslike during the week. There is just the residents-only bar and the squishy leather sofas by reception in the main hotel, but the bedrooms are spacious enough for you to want to spend time in them during the day.
The staff were happy to park my car after midnight (only when they had checked to make sure it was worth less than pounds 50,000 - above that they are not insured), and to send up a cooked breakfast the next morning at an hour when I could have gone to the restaurant.
Each room has its own theme, with some overlooking the canal. Go for a director's room - pounds 90 room only at weekends; pounds 150 in the week - as these have a secondary space for small meetings or reading the paper, and house the huge stereo TV. The CD player is near the bed, as is the phone, light switches etc. There's even a phone within arm's reach of the loo (the hotel caters for obsessive business people). They seem to have thought of everything to make you feel home-from-home.
Brasserie 44 is the moderately priced restaurant that serves lunch and dinner every day (except Sunday lunch, which is a real shame). It has a large selection of fish and other staple dishes - corn-fed chicken, sauteed calves' liver, onion tart - with a very decadent chocolate fondue, served with biscotti and fruit. But if you are really pushing the boat out, Pool Court has a pounds 45-per-head "Classics" menu. The style might be described as "English trying to be classy".
Transformed from a derelict grain mill in1990, it opened in March 1991 to much acclaim. It has since won the Which? Hotel Guide County Hotel of the Year (1992), the Good Hotel Guide Cesar Award (1995), Caterer and Hotelkeeper Hotel of the Year (1995) and the Johansens City Hotel Award for Excellence (1996).
Businessmen and women who are bored with the staple hotel-room decor and want something with a few personal touches. And Harvey Nicks shoppers at weekends.
Things to do?
In Leeds, you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to entertainment and culture. The West Yorkshire Playhouse, the Grand Theatre, Opera North, the Henry Moore Institute, the Armouries Museum and the Tetley Brewery Museum are all less than 10 minutes' walk from the hotel.
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