Up away from Leeds’ bustling centre, beyond the pearlescent walls of the Parkinson Building and grasses of Hyde Park, nestles the quaint streets of Headingley. Renowned as Otley Run territory, and an epicentre of sport both locally and regionally, this suburb is often perceived to be one of the city’s most prominent student hubs. Yet it is so much more than that.
Headingley is its own microcosm of creativity and life; a mecca of independent eateries and secluded coffee spots, glossy hair and beauty salons, and fashionable shops whispering stories of their owners and the people who run them.
Hyde Park Book Club
Upon entry into Headingley rests Hyde Park Book Club; a quirky eatery-come-hang-out space which boasts an eclectic events calendar, and an equally impressive vegan and vegetarian dining menu. They have everything happening, from topical conversations on current affairs, to art installations and image exhibitions. There’s live music gigs, intimate DJ sets, creative workshops, film screenings and discussions, and fundraising events. It’s really up to you how you wish to broaden your horizons, but HPBC have a little something for everyone. Settle down under the naked yellow lights and indulge in a freshly brewed North Star coffee and cake, or sip on an exotic craft beer from Northern Monk Brewery. Brunch or lunch, dine or wine, this red roost has you covered. HPBC’s bold exterior makes it hard to miss, and you’ll regret it if you do.
Cottage Road Cinema
Cottage Road Cinema is Headingley’s answer to Hyde Park’s Picture House. Tucked on a street branching off Otley Road, this original theatre is a real treat for cinephiles and first-timers alike. The preserved condition of Cottage Road creates the illusion of travelling back to 1912 when it opened; very little structural work has been done in 106 years, except a refurbishment of the auditorium in the early 1970s. The foyer is a portal into the cinema’s first active years; ornate red carpet under foot and dark wood panelling on the walls. Even the traditional concierge box remains to the left as you walk in, where you can purchase tickets at a very reasonable price, with cheaper options available for children, students and senior citizens. There is only one screen at Cottage Road, so current titles are often restricted to two at a time, which are advertised on an antique placard outside above the doorway. The nostalgic charm and serenity of this cinema is enough to make your visit worthwhile, so if you’re up that way and fancy a film fix, Cottage Road is the place for you.
Vintage and Charity Shop Trail
If there is one thing this suburb has an abundance of, its charity shops. The area is peppered with charity outlets and vintage emporiums along Headingley Lane and Otley Road, waiting for you to take a glimpse and discover your next steal. Submerse yourself in donated dresses and vintage crockery. Scope the rails of sheepskin coats and gaudy knits, and browse the forgotten vinyl and nests of necklaces hanging on the wall. You could even find that piece of furniture you didn’t realise you needed, and it’s all for charity so you can feel good about shopping! From Oxfam and British Heart Foundation, to Sue Ryder Vintage and Mind; you name it, Headingley has it.
Wander a little off the beaten track of Otley Road, and you’ll stumble across sanctuaries like Bare Coffee. Sit behind the arched windows and bask in the smell of rich java while feasting on perfectly poached eggs and sourdough toast. This cosy coffee haven labels themselves as a co-operative cafe in the heart of the community. They use organic ingredients, and they are huge advocates for local produce and supporting fellow independents; Bare use North Star Coffee in their hot beverages, stock delicious loaves from Nova Bakehouse, and fruit and veg here from Organic Pantry. A charming spot to catch up with friends or take some alone time out of your day with a slice of cake and a good book. Go and discover your own Bare moment.
Jino’s Thai Café
Expect authentic Thai cuisine only at Jino’s Café. Bringing the fragrant flavours of Thailand to little ol’ Headingley, this marvellous restaurant will whet your appetite in a simply decorated white and green interior where the focus is on the food. Enjoy traditional favourites like Panaeng Curry, spicy soups, seafood salads, noodle and rice dishes or stir fries hot from the wok. Jino’s now has a new address on North Lane, but they’re still offering the same relaxed and friendly atmosphere we all loved on Otley Road, and of course they are still a BYOB establishment.
This versatile cafeteria is a long standing treasure amongst Headingley locals, and has been making faces smile and stomachs sing since 1994. A cheap and cheerful café by day, and cosy restaurant by night, Dare has an extensive menu of delicious, freshly cooked food with dishes for all palettes, and has recently opened its own bar underneath the premises, aptly named ‘The Bar Below’. Stop by for lunch and snap up one of their super sandwich deals, or tuck in to something a little more filling when the sun goes down; Dare’s Mexican plates such as the taquitos or fajitas are particular favourites. The demographic of Headingley has altered over the years, but Dare Café’s invaluable contribution to the community has remained unchanged; friendly service, snug surroundings, and great tasting grub at an affordable price.