CONTRIBUTING Picture Editor Ruth Greatrex lived it up in this northern powerhouse.
THE PAD: After a majestic £16million makeover, The Queens Hotel – a Leeds landmark since 1937 – has been brought bang up to date.
Expect a warm Yorkshire welcome in the swish lobby, where you can admire the building’s original art-deco features.
The chic vintage theme continues throughout the 232 stylish bedrooms, each with a flatscreen TV, Elemis smellies and Nespresso machine.
The full-length illuminated mirror is perfect for getting ready to go out-out – an absolute must considering you have Leeds’ lively nightlife on your doorstep (not that you can hear a peep from the sanctuary of your room).
EXPLORE: Leeds is a shopper’s heaven, from designer names and high-street staples to quirky independents. Don’t miss Leeds Corn Exchange, which houses a wealth of crafty and creative makers, artisanal food producers and vintage traders under its exquisite domed roof (Leedscornexchange.co.uk).
Green-fingered folk will love The Plant Point (Instagram.com/theplantpoint) or pick up an ultra-cool print from On The Wall (Onthewall.co.uk). There’s a world of art in the heart of the city.
Leeds Art Gallery is home to a diverse collection of contemporary artists, including Leeds’ own Damien Hirst (Museumsandgalleries.leeds.gov.uk), and the unmissable Henry Moore Institute is next door (Henry-moore.org). Admission to both is free.
REFUEL: The Grand Pacific is the hotel’s opulent dining room, with a menu that mixes far-flung flavours and British classics. We loved salt-baked beetroot with whipped goat’s cheese, £6.50, and salmon in a Thai red curry broth, £17.95.
Venture to nearby bar East 59th for panoramic views over Leeds from the heated terrace. Go big and order the seafood sharing platter, including a grilled lobster and tempura prawns, £65 for two, and stay for party vibes from DJs (East59th.co.uk).
For something more laid-back, Friends of Ham is the perfect pit-stop for lovers of good beer, local cheeses and meats. The pork pie with chilli jam, £4, is the ideal hangover cure (Friendsofham.com).
DON’T MISS: Keep your eyes peeled for colourful street art, including portraits of football legends, throughout the city (Visitleeds.co.uk/street-art-trail).
BOOK IT: Double rooms at The Queens Hotel cost from £113 B&B (Thequeensleeds.co.uk). Travel by train from London King’s Cross to Leeds from £48 return with LNER (Lner.co.uk).
Assistant Editor Claire Frost and partner Steve walked in the footsteps of Banksy and Brunel.
THE PAD: The Avon Gorge is one of the most iconic places to rest your head in the city, and further cementing its must-stay status, it’s recently become part of the swanky Hotel du Vin group.
The vibe is dark walls and huge old-school portraits, but with L’Occitane goodies in the bathrooms and flatscreen TVs to watch from your bed, there are still modern touches. Did we mention that it overlooks the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge?
Come morning, you can tuck into eggs Benedict with the best view in town!
EXPLORE: The best way to see Bristol is on foot, as long as you don’t mind steep hills. Book a two-and-a-half-hour tour to take in the city’s renowned street art with Where The Wall – super-knowledgeable guide John will show you creations from Bristol-born legend Banksy and hot up-and-coming paint-sprayers.
Tours cost £15 per person (Wherethewall.com). Then head to the Harbourside to get acquainted with one of history’s most famous engineers, Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Take a tour on the SS Great Britain and learn how he changed the way ships were made forever.
Tickets cost £19.50 per adult and you can visit as many times as you like in a year (Ssgreatbritain.org). If shopping’s your thing, hit up Cabot Circus for high-end high-street names, or wander into Clifton Village for independent boutiques.
REFUEL: The hotel’s Goram & Vincent restaurant serves up hearty grills and steaks – we liked the lamb kofta, £19.50. Or hit nearby The Coconut Tree for a selection of Sri Lankan street food, from super-tasty (and spicy!) goat curry, £8, to the savoury pancake “hopper”, £3.75 (Thecoconut-tree.com).
After a coffee? You’ll love Spicer+Cole in Clifton Village (Spicerandcole.co.uk). Then come evening, search out Milk Thistle behind an unassuming door in the centre of town for cool cocktails (Milkthistlebristol.com).
DON’T MISS: The free M Shed museum offers up a great interactive walk through the city’s history, plus it’s hosting the awe-inspiring Wildlife Photographer Of The Year exhibition, £7, until June (Bristolmuseums.org.uk/m-shed).
BOOK IT: Double rooms at the Avon Gorge by Hotel du Vin cost from £147 B&B (Hotelduvin.com). Plan your stay at Visitbristol.co.uk.
Acting Lifestyle Editor Emma Ledger, boyfriend Alex and two-year-old Annie made capital gains.
THE PAD: Down a cobbled street off the South Bank, Native Bankside is a stylish, spacious and thoughtfully designed retreat from the hustle and bustle.
A former warehouse, many original features have been retained as part of the slick New York loft apartment vibe, with exposed brickwork and industrial furniture teamed with sumptuous furnishings – shout out to the humongous bed.
Travelling with the fam? Choose an apartment with a kitchen.
EXPLORE: The hotel is just a stone’s throw from must-visits the Tate Modern (Tate.org.uk) and Shakespeare’s Globe (Shakespearesglobe.com), so find out what shows are on during your stay, tickets from £5.
The best way to see London is from the river. Board the Uber Boat by Thames Clippers at Blackfriars pier and sail west – use your bank card to tap in or buy an adult all-day ticket, £18.40, or £9.20 for kids (Uberboatbythamesclippers.com).
Hop off at Battersea Power Station to explore new riverside neighbourhood, Circus West Village. It’s packed with bars, restaurants, shops, gyms, crazy golf, a virtual reality arcade, cinemas, theatres and year-round family-friendly events.
Nab a table at Megan’s, right on the waterfront, for halloumi fries with honey, £5.90, and tasty braised lamb houmous with flatbread, £6.50 (Batterseapowerstation.co.uk).
REFUEL: Make like you’re on Made In Chelsea and have a deep and meaningful while strolling the 10 minutes east from your hotel along the Thames to foodie mecca Borough Market (Boroughmarket.org.uk).
Grab a coffee from Monmouth Coffee Company (Monmouthcoffee.co.uk), before gawping at all the beaut global food stalls.
For lunch, head to Pizza Pilgrims and sample their basil pesto base topped with burrata, £10.95 (Pizzapilgrims.co.uk).
DON’T MISS: An after-sunset stroll along the South Bank, when London’s skyline sparkles.
BOOK IT: Double rooms at Native Bankside cost from £105 per night (Nativeplaces.com).
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