A LUXURIOUS WAY TO SEE OUR CITY
The Hilton Double Tree presides over one of the city’s trendy and sophisticated areas – Granary Wharf. It’s hard to believe that less than 30 years ago this was an almost derelict area of the city where bonded warehouses, factories and engineering works once a prolific part of the Leeds economy once stood until the regeneration of the waterfront area.
An imposing building it is a striking piece of modern architecture with an eclectic mix of styles embracing the old and the new. One of the best things about this hotel is you feel so far away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre, but yet its only around 2 minutes’ walk from the station and around 8 minutes from the shopping district, if you feel like some retail therapy.
It’s a spacious place and the reception is fast and very friendly – although on our visit quite a long queue had developed for use of the lifts as only two out of the three were working and guests needed to use these to get to their rooms.
Our King Junior Suite was exceptionally pleasant but, like many of the newer hotels, tailored towards the business customer. The views from the room, with its floor to ceiling windows all along one side, were excellent and gave me a new perspective of the city and the many redevelopments that were going on.
The jewel in the hotel’s crown is of course is The Sky Lounge. Situated on the 13th floor it’s a favourite place for both visitors and city dwellers alike to start or finish their evening with one of the bar’s famous cocktails.
The planning of the lounge is perfect with large spaces between the exceedingly comfortable chairs and tables and breath-taking views where-ever you sit. Those, unlike me who is rather nervous of heights, may venture out on the terrace and savour a cocktail looking out over the city lights – it’s a site well worth experiencing.
At the weekend the Sky Lounge serves Sunday brunch from around 11.00am to 5.00pm and that is really worth trying as its pure indulgence.
The lounge certainly looks different in the day light, but still as attractive. It’s here you will find some of the best and most attentive staff in the hotel. All are so friendly and eager to pander to your every whim, nothing is too much trouble. I loved the linen napkins and how the staff spotted from afar when a change or another piece of cutlery was required or a tea-pot needed changing.
We chose a table indoors but near the balcony window. For starters I opted for the smoked salmon and scrambled eggs – usually served with chilli, however I asked for my dish to be without it as the sliced red onions and caperberries I knew would be sufficient to bring out the flavour of the salmon. The dish was a joy to eat. The eggs were fluffy and not rubbery and the salmon was cut so there were not bits of skin or tough pieces to hinder the taste.
My partner opted for the grilled asparagus with ciabatta, poached egg and sliced avocado. Now any chef will tell you poached eggs are one of the most testing dishes to come out of the kitchen – but the kitchen came up trumps with this one. The eggs were perfection and the bread was warm and the asparagus tender and tasty.
For main it was a difficult choice to make from a menu that included lobster tagliatelle, grilled rump steak, confit duck leg with a Belgian waffle plus a goat’s cheese gnocchi to name but a few. However, we opted for the sky fry up and we couldn’t have chosen better.
The bacon was crispy yet succulent, eggs were cooked to our liking and the old spot pork sausage was just so tasty and tender. But for me it was the grilled vine cherry tomatoes that amazed me – I had to ask the kitchen just how they got them so right!
We had numerous refills to our pots of tea and the pastry table at the end of the room loaded with mini pastries and jumbo croissants attracted me. For once, we just couldn’t manage a dessert but they looked tempting, as did the Brunch cocktails including a liqueur latte – perhaps next time!
The Sky Lounge may be the hotel’s piece de resistance, but for me I just loved the Lock Kitchen and Lock Bar. You could be anywhere but in the centre of Leeds sitting here. The heated Lock Bar is on the edge of the Leeds/Liverpool canal with its houseboats and pretty floral tubs. There is a deck area where you can practically touch the water, whilst the other part is half covered by a glass canopy, and with low tables, potted palms and such comfortable sinkable seating.
At night with its mood lighting and the fairy lights in the nearby trees, this must be one of the city’s most romantic places to sit with a glass of fizz and watch the world go by.
The Lock Kitchen is a great place to dine as the ceiling to floor windows looks out over the bar and decking area. It’s an informal place to eat but has quite a sophisticated quirky menu. It’s the type of place where no one rushes you and you can just sit and soak up the atmosphere and its delectable food.
Whilst we mused over what to eat, we ordered from the Nibbles section of the menu. Served on a board, the artisan bread was warm and fresh, whilst the pork crackling served with apple sauce was unusual dish, to say the least, but very palatable.
For starters, my partner decided on the herb crusted Portobello mushroom fries served with Yorkshire Blue dip. The herb crust was crispy and the dip certainly enhanced the flavour of the mushrooms, which at times can be rather bland.
The Bury black pudding fritters attracted me. What a wonderful way to serve this Northern dish and the way it was presented turned, what was once a humble dish, into a sophisticated starter.
When it came to main course there was a plethora of dishes that attracted us. However, I decided on the sea bass fillets with samphire and spiced prawns. However, I asked for the dish to be served without the samphire and my wish was granted. The sea bass was more than adequate, although I was rather disappointed that the skin was not crispy, in fact it was rather wet, however a mountain of prawns on the dish made up for my disappointment.
My partner’s hanger steak, chimichurri and fries was excellent and cooked exactly how he requested it. It was succulent and tender and with a side order of grain mustard slaw it was his heaven on a plate.
The beauty about the Lock Kitchen is that you can retire outside between courses, which is exactly what we did several times, especially after our main course. However, I still found room for a sweet and was tempted by the summer pudding with Yorkshire cream. When it came I certainly was not disappointed. Just like my granny used to make it came stuffed with every summer fruit you can imagine and the thick cream for God’s own country just topped off my dessert course.
The hotel uses a plethora of produce from local producers which is always pleasing from meats, vegetables and even to the biscuits in the rooms there is so much that is Yorkshire produced.
The Double Tree is a great place for the dine and stay experience. Without going out of our own city you can imagine you are anywhere you want to be yet so near home.
The Double Tree by Hilton Hotel Leeds City, Granary Wharf, 2 Wharf Approach, Leeds LS1 4BR
Tel: 01132 411000.