JLife picks the best of Leeds’ rooftop bars to rise above the bustle and soak up some summer sun from classy Japanese spots to funky student hangouts.
Just over a year since closing its doors after a fire tore through its three-storey premises, the popular Steinbeck Corner bar restaurant rose from the ashes with a new rooftop terrace. A heated garden seating area and top floor balcony offer amazing views of Chapel Allerton, perfect for relaxing with a post-work beverage or two. Or if you’re looking to get some work done in the sun, superfast broadband makes for the hottest hot desking in town.
With hopes of becoming a day and night-time destination, the new space is set to play host to talks from local artists, entrepreneurs and motivational speakers alongside disco, electro and northern soul nights.
Specialising in traditional wood fired pizza, Mediterranean small plates and (you guessed it) craft beer, the kitchen churns out freshly prepared grub until 10pm on weeknights, ideal for making the most of the longer days with some late night al fresco dining.
East Parade Social
Nesting in the rooftops of Leeds’ business district, the all-day city-slicker hangout commands a bird’s eye view of the city. Like the views, the food and drink doesn’t go anywhere: the kitchen serving from morning ‘til night. Sharing platters with a Mediterranean lean dominate the menu: think harissa-spiked hummus with sourdough flatbread, or grilled halloumi served with roasted peppers and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds.
Before hitting the office, enjoy a light breakfast in the sun with coffee-to-go, and when the working day is done, come back to drink in the illuminated skyline with a glass of wine or a beer. Watching the sun set over the spires of the town hall is certainly a view worth conquering your fear of heights for!
Belgrave Music Hall
Slog it up three flights of stairs and be rewarded with panoramic views across the Northern Quarter from one of the city’s largest roof terraces. AstroTurf-swathed decking and fairy light-strewn trellises adorned with hanging baskets provide an urban oasis vibe. A small rooftop bar serving a cut-down selection of draught beer and cider saves you the climb down for refreshment.
The only thing you’ll need to venture downstairs for is the grub – but trust us, it’s worth it. Fresh from the fast food hatches, Dough Boys slings New York-style pizza by the slice while Pattie Smiths offers its no-nonsense ‘dirty burger’, tipped by The Guardian’s Tony Naylor as “burger of the year”.
However, being one of the city’s worst kept secrets, you may have to fight through students hoards on a sunny Saturday to secure a pew.
Situated on the third floor of Victoria Gate, the high-end Japanese restaurant offers a stunning 700 sq ft rooftop drinking spot. The south-facing terrace is moodily lit and decked out in exotic foliage, with a wraparound bar stacked with a formidable array of Japanese whiskies and the city’s largest collection of sake.
Sink into plush sofas and take in the views with cocktails inspired by the Japanese seasons, from a springtime gin-infused Yuzo Bramble to an autumnal vodka-based Kochia. Bar menus offer a flavour of the adjoining restaurant, serving a selection of Japanese small plates all day long – each with the dangerously tempting option to add unlimited prosecco.
The highest rooftop bar in the city, the upmarket cocktail spot sits atop the DoubleTree by Hilton, overlooking the dramatically-lit Granary Wharf and the Italianate towers of Holbeck Urban Village.
A crow’s nest balcony offers a breath-taking view from the 13th floor, where the Leeds glitterati can be found filling Instagram feeds with cityscape selfies, champagne flutes in hand.
The drinks menu encapsulates the vista with a raft of cocktails inspired by the local architecture. The bourbon-forward Corn Old Fashioned pays homage the Corn Exchange while Getting High in Yorkshire honours the neighbouring Bridgwater Place with Harrogate’s Slingsby rhubarb gin.
Weekend DJs provide a soundtrack to the city, making it a popular night spot for the long, balmy evenings. If you’re looking for a setting to impress, Skylounge is one of the hottest locations all year round. But when you get the bill, hand over your credit card and don’t look down.