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 Art Hostel in Leeds: The Concept
The Art Hostel is the 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 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.
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!
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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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.