Leeds’ claim to fame is that it used to be a massive textile manufacturing centre. This industry is now pretty much dead. Thankfully, that’s about the only thing that is in this buzzing northern city.

More than 1000 shops pack the city’s heart, laced with friendly pedestrianised streets, charming Victorian buildings and plenty of pubs and clubs to show off your new threads and get chummy with the locals.

Shop ’til you drop

Dubbed the ‘Knightsbridge of the north’ by Lonely Planet, Leeds is the first city outside London to be bestowed with the company of the illustrious Harvey Nichols. Following this boon, a catalogue of designers opened stores and boutiques, turning the burghal into a shopaholics dream with 4.3 million square feet of retail recreation in every pocket; from the fancy, domed structure of the Corn Exchange to the intricate Victoria Quarter and Kirkgate Market. Later this year, it will further elevate itself towards shopping heaven status, when the £150m development of the Trinity Quarter gets underway.

And we danced

In 2005, Leeds was voted the UK’s sexiest city in a Young Persons Railcard Poll. Given the amount of miniskirts – worn rain, hail, shine or snow – and barely there clothing, the accolade couldn’t be sitting on the shelf of a more deserving mantle. The pedigree of clubs here is as high as the thighs dancing in them and a swag of late-licensed bars provide an easy escape or digs to warm-up. Walking into The Elbow Room on Call Lane, you’d be forgiven for thinking the trip wasn’t going as planned, but the pool tables are actually purple. It and Mojos, also on Call Lane, are relaxed options, while if you want to get a dose of the blues, head to The Wardrobe in St Peters Square, where they play live jazz in the basement.

Clubbers, be warned – some venues are comparable to student fraternity parties. Ignore The Hi-Fi Club and head to Rehab on Assembly Street or Halo Nightclub on Woodhouse Lane. The locals love to party and heading home any time before 4am is mock-worthy in their eyes.

Eating and sleeping

Teeming with trendy cafés and restaurants, there are plenty of choices for chowing down, but the standout is Room, situated in the heart of the city centre. Serving up retro dishes – usually something classic with a contemporary twist – the award-winning restaurant is as much a blessing to your tastebuds as your mood. It offers a comfortable dining experience with a touch of glitz. Try the chicken chasseur over a wine or two before heading downstairs for a cocktail at the restaurant’s late-night bar, Bedroom. Since it’s a destination that requires limited spending to get there, consider booking somewhere luxurious, like the Radisson (01132-366 000; www.radissonsas.com). It will make a nice change from the hostel routine, but if your budget doesn’t allow it, the Euro Hostel (www.euro-hostels.co.uk) is a good pick.

Worth a look

Royal Armouries
Filled with interactive thrills and spills of the past, this national museum houses heaps of Britain’s oldest armour and military equipment. During the summer, watch out for the outdoor jousting, horse combat and falconry demonstrations.

West Yorkshire Playhouse
Leeds makes a commendable effort to compete with the big cities in the country when it comes to theatre. The West Yorkshire Playhouse (www.wyplayhouse.com) hosts an impressive mix of self-produced plays and international works, worth a gander if it’s raining.

Bonus points for: Nightlife and shopping
Loses marks for: Locals – some of them are a bit tacky
Check out: www.leedsliveitloveit.co.uk


Additional information supplied by Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com). The Britain edition of Lonely Planet is out now.