Where to Stay in Leeds: A Review of the Art Hostel Leeds

Where to Stay in Leeds: A Review of the Art Hostel Leeds

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I went to university in Leeds, and lived in the city for about ten years before I started my nomadic, wandering lifestyle.  When I come back to visit, as I frequently do, I usually stay with friends, but this time I fancied a change.  When I was looking for Leeds budget hotels and hostels, I realised that there isn’t a wide range of budget accommodation in Leeds, so when I read about the Art Hostel Leeds, I knew I had to give it a try, and was thrilled when they invited me to stay!

The Reception at the Art Hostel Leeds - Where to stay in Leeds
The Reception at the Art Hostel Leeds

The Art Hostel in Leeds: The Concept

The Art Hostel is first social enterprise Art Hostel in the UK, started by the charity East Street Arts, who work to further education and appreciation of the arts.  All of the profits from the hostel go back into the charity, and downstairs from the main hostel area is a project space for artists to exhibit their work.  The hostel is in a renovated building on one of Leeds’ oldest streets – Kirkgate, and used to be a wheat, barley and seed oil merchant in the 18th Century.  Now completely transformed, there are still original features throughout the building, and the Art Hostel aims to provide unique accommodation in a playful, creative space.

The Project Space at the Art Hostel Leeds - Budget Accommodation in Leeds
The Project Space at the Art Hostel Leeds – Budget Accommodation in Leeds

Location

Art Hostel Leeds is in an excellent location, 2 minutes’ walk from the bus station, and a few minutes from Kirkgate Market, the Corn Exchange, Call Lane and Briggate, the main shopping street.  It took me about 10 minutes to walk to the train station with my wheelie case, door to door, so it was great to be in the middle of the action.  However, the hostel wasn’t noisy from drunken revellers as you may expect from a city-centre hotel in Leeds, although there were earplugs provided for early morning lorries and buses passing by.

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The Entrance to Art Hostel Leeds - The Best Hostel in Leeds
The Entrance to Art Hostel Leeds – The Best Hostel in Leeds

Bedrooms at the Art Hostel Leeds

Each bedroom was designed by a local artist, so they all have a unique personality and décor.  I stayed in the 5-bed dorm called the ‘Fred Dibnah Suite’, designed by Drew Millward.  The room was filled with hand-drawn sketches by Drew, which show Leeds’ rich industrial heritage and faded grandeur of the old factories.

Fred Dibnah Suite Dorm Room, where I stayed. Photo Credit Art Hostel Leeds
Fred Dibnah Suite Dorm Room, where I stayed. Photo Credit Art Hostel Leeds

The bunk beds were designed by East Street Arts’ Director, Jon Wakeman and Kamiel Verschuren, and were sturdy and comfortable, but in the lower bunks you might feel a little closed in as there isn’t much space between you and the bed above.  Usually I prefer a bottom bunk bed, but I was lucky to get the top bunk of two in my room, so I could sit up and work.  There are three dorm rooms, from five to eight beds, and five private rooms with double, twin or triple beds.

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Fred Dibnah Suite, my Dorm Room at the Art Hostel Leeds. Photo Credit: Art Hostel Leeds
Fred Dibnah Suite, my Dorm Room at the Art Hostel Leeds. Photo Credit: Art Hostel Leeds

The bathrooms are all shared, although there is one semi-accessible private bedroom on the ground floor with a shower in the room.  There were two bathrooms on my floor shared between three bedrooms; and more on the floor above, and a toilet downstairs next to reception – I didn’t have to wait to use the bathroom at all.  The bathroom next to our room was the ‘Bowie Bathroom’ designed by Edwin Li, and had a singing mirror in it – someone singing David Bowie covers, but changing the lyrics to be related to bathrooms.  It sounds weird, and it was, but fun!  Bowie’s song ‘Changes’ original lyrics are ‘time may change me, but I can’t change time’ which were altered to ‘time may change me, but I love bath time’ which did make me laugh.  Luckily it got switched off during the night as I could hear it from the room!

Breakfast & Kitchen Facilities

Breakfast was included in the morning, there was bread, jam (and Nutella!), cereals, fruit and juice.  The kitchen was clean, and had everything you would need to cook – a small hob and a microwave, but no oven.  There is a Co-op mini supermarket around the corner, and Kirkgate Market a couple of minutes’ walk away so if you are travelling in the UK on a budget there are plenty of options to buy your own food.

The Kitchen at the Art Hostel Leeds
The Kitchen at the Art Hostel Leeds

What I loved about the Art Hostel Leeds

The bed was super comfy, with a big duvet to snuggle down in.

The décor was very cool, I loved how every room was different, and every bathroom had a different personality!

The location really is spot on, and very useful for taking a bus to the airport at 6am!

Bathroom Decor at the Art Hostel Leeds
Bathroom Decor at the Art Hostel Leeds

Anything I didn’t like?

The social area was quite small, just space for five or six people to hang out.  There was a larger table for eating, but on a couple of days that was full up with artists from the space downstairs who were planning an exhibition.  On the third day though I had plenty of space to chill out and do some work, so it just depends how busy it is.

The dorm room was a little stuffy at times, partly due to a window that would only open slightly, and more due to to my roommates who decided to eat a pizza in the room, a curry, and stay in the room all day.  As I was leaving to go out, I mentioned to one of the staff that it was starting to smell a bit funky, and she dashed upstairs to sort it.  I’m not sure what she did but is was fresher when I got back!

There weren’t any lockers provided in the room, but the staff did lock my laptop & passport in the safe at the front desk.

The Dining or Work Area at the Art Hostel Leeds - Where to Stay in Leeds
The Dining or Work Area at the Art Hostel Leeds – Where to Stay in Leeds

Final Thoughts

Overall, I enjoyed my stay and would recommend the Art Hostel Leeds to other visitors.  For couples, you may find cheaper deals at budget hotels in Leeds, but the cool style and hostel vibe is unique, and the location is worth the money.  The combination of private and dorm rooms means the hostel could double for a B&B (bed and breakfast) or budget hotel in Leeds.  For solo travellers, this is easily the best hostel in Leeds!

Want to book?  You can book directly on the Art Hostel Leeds website for a discount on weeknight stays, or book on Hostelworld.

Have you stayed at the Art Hostel Leeds?  What did you think?  I’d love to hear your thoughts, leave me a comment below.

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I went to university in Leeds, and lived in the city for about ten years before I started my nomadic, wandering lifestyle.  When I come back to visit, as I frequently do, I usually stay with friends, but this time I fancied a change.  When I was looking for Leeds budget hotels and hostels, I realised that there isn’t a wide range of budget accommodation in Leeds, so when I read about the Art Hostel Leeds, I knew I had to give it a try!

Thank you to the Art Hostel Leeds for hosting my three night stay in Leeds.  Although my stay was complimentary, my views (as always) are my own.

Just to let you know, this post may contain sponsored or affiliate links, which help to maintain Tales of a Backpacker, and give me the chance to keep travelling, and to keep creating awesome content for you!

PS. The featured image is of some cool street art on Kirkgate, just down the road from the hostel.

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10 thoughts on “Where to Stay in Leeds: A Review of the Art Hostel Leeds

  1. I am not a hostel person but I really appreciate what they’re doing for the artists community. Giving you profits back to charity and encourage art, is a very good and positive thing to do. I do feel the dorm rooms are a bit small and I agree the social area is also too small to fit enough people, which is probably the most important and exciting part of staying in a hostel (meeting other people) but it’s all for a good cause!

  2. Art Hostel sounds like such a cool concept. What a fun idea to get local artists involved in designing the rooms. It’s amazing how hostels have evolved. The location sounds fantastic. I love being right in the center of the action. The bunkbeds in the Fred Dibnah Suite are such a playful take on a traditional bunkbed. If I make it to Leeds, that’s where I’d stay.

  3. Looks like a really great hostel. I like that the profits of the hotel go back into the East Street Arts charity—always nice to stay somewhere that gives to a good cause. Really love the hand drawn artwork in the rooms, too! That’s nice they took care of the smell in the room right away too—sounds like that could have been pretty bad if they let it go too long! Great find and looks like a wonderful place to stay!

  4. This is just about the most beautiful interior of a hostel I’ve ever seen! The bedrooms look really unique and the design is amazing. I also love that breakfast is included – all about the budget… 😉

  5. Art Hostel Leeds looks amazing, I loved how they played with the design of the bunk beds (although I would prefer to stay on the upper floors for sure). I am bookmarking your post for my next trip to Leeds!

  6. I love that the proceeds go back into the charity! So cool that each room is decorated uniquely by an artist! I love places with character. My father in law is from Leeds, so I will have to go visit the town and check out this hostel. That singing mirror in the bathroom is just too funny!

  7. Hostels are a boon for budget travelers. Good to know all of the profits from the hostel go back into the charity. Neat arrangement in Dorm room and good kitchen facilities too. A wise option to stay.

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