A major shopping destination in northern-England, Leeds is known as the ‘Knightsbridge of the North’. It is one of the fastest growing cities in the UK and oozes urban chic with waterfront apartments, Victorian shopping arcades and bus routes assigned colours such as mauve, peach and turquoise. You will soon discover that Leeds is more than just a shopping mecca though, and there are numerous accessible museums and attractions to keep the curious traveller interested.
Getting to Leeds
Leeds Train Station is the third busiest train station in the country, so expect some crowds! With 17 platforms, it's a good idea to give yourself plenty of time to get where you're going; and one reviewer told us there was 'great assistance' in the station:
"Arriving at the station it was very busy and not clear where to head for to find assistance. Wheeling onto the main concourse there was an assistance point clearly signposted. From there on it was plain sailing."
Places to stay with good disabled access
Leeds Arena Hotel is the ideal place to stay if you are visiting the city for a concert or show! It's situated close to the O2 Academy and First Direct Arena, and it has a 5 star review on Euan's Guide!
"It's not often I would give a five star review to a hotel but here in Leeds was a great exception. From the moment we arrived the service was fantastic with a seamless experience for me as a powerchair user and my visually impaired companion. What was memorable and striking about this hotel was the positive and welcoming manner of the staff."
The New Ellington Hotel, Gin Garden and Restaurant can be found in a nest of Georgian buildings in Leeds city centre. The hotel features accessible rooms with walk in showers, and there is ramped access to the main entrance.
Just on the outskirts of Leeds, the Corn Mill Lodge Hotel has bus links into the city centre. The hotel is listed on Euan's Guide saying: "Our three twin bedded rooms, suitable for disabled access are on the ground floor, two are with large showers and one is with bath and shower over."
If you'd rather not stay in a hotel, 5 star rated Roomzzz offers various luxury apartments close to the train station. One reviewer said there was ‘plenty of room in the wet room, including for a hoist’.
Explore the city
There are lots of places to go in Leeds that have great disabled access! Tropical World was rated 4.5 stars by one reviewer who told us that ‘all the viewing windows were low down enough for wheelchair users’. Tropical World features enclosures such as the Amazon Tank, Butterfly House, Desert House and more.
Catch a glimpse of the former mill town that Leeds once was with a visit to Thwaite Mills Watermill. This attraction has various access features including large print and easy read materials, an induction loop, accessible parking and accessible toilets for guests.
For those who enjoy a bit of history, Kirkstall Abbey is a medieval Cistercian abbey located on the banks of the River Aire. Kirsktall Abbey and its visitor centre are all on ground level and there is also an audio description of the tour of the Abbey available online which you can download to your phone. If you’ve still got energy to explore, Abbey House Museum is just a five minute walk away and is another attraction which lets you step back in time. There is an induction loop in the entrance foyer and carers can enter the museum free of charge. Another old house worth checking out is Temple Newsam, a Tudor-Jacobean house described as the Hampton Court of the North. One reviewer loved visiting and told us:
"All of the grounds, gardens and walled gardens are fully accessible. Push wheelchair users might struggle on some of the areas like the Home Farm and the Stables courtyard. Many trails and walks are accessible but steep in parts."
Leeds is packed full of museums, including Euan’s Guide listed venues such as the Leeds Industrial Museum and Middleton Railway. Thackray Medical Museum shares the fascinating story of medicine and health through its interactive galleries which all have hearing loops. Alternatively, Leeds City Museum offers large print exhibition guides for most of its galleries, and there are lots of tactile, audio and visual exhibits throughout.
Another museum worth visiting is the Royal Armouries Museum which has been described as 'a great day out'. One visitor said its accessibility exceeded their expectations and wrote: "you'll need hours to look around its various exhibitions!".
Art enthusiasts might like to explore Leeds Art Gallery in the city centre. The gallery has constantly changing displays and activities year round. Leeds Art Gallery can also offer tailored sensory sessions for groups.
For Emmerdale fans, did you know you can do the Emmerdale Village Tour? One powerchair gave the experience 4 stars!
If you’re visiting during winter, Leeds opens up its wheelchair accessible ice rink, Ice Cube. This ice rink has been rated 5 star, and one reviewer said the ‘disabled access was fantastic’.
Experience shopping in Leeds
There are countless shops in Leeds to get lost in! Trinity is the city’s largest shopping centre with over one hundred shops, bars and restaurants. One reviewer gave the centre 4 stars saying: "the centre has ramps, lifts and automatic doors in place to make access easier for disabled users". Right in the heart of the city, Merrion Centre also boasts more than one hundred shops; and it's listed on Euan's Guide saying: "a water bowl is available for assistance dogs and can be requested at the Merrion Centre Management Suite".
Food and drink scene
Leeds is a great city for socialising and meeting up for a bite to eat or something to drink. The Arch Café is ‘a café with a social conscience’ that serves tea, sandwiches and home baked cakes. One reviewer gave it 4.5 stars saying, ‘this independent café is a gem for any foodie or if you want to escape the busy city centre’. The café has step-free access and wide doorways.
Head to Headingley Enterprise and Arts Centre for cake and lunch in Heart Cafe. The Centre is listed on Euan's Guide saying: "the centre features extra-wide doors, ramps and a lift to all floors". There is also a Changing Places Toilet!
Leeds Electric Press is a Revolution bar overlooking the Millennium Square. One reviewer told us that this venue had worked hard to overcome the limitations of the building, and that the friendly attitude of the staff in particular make is a great place to go and eat food with friends.
If you’re on a small budget, Stick or Twist is a 4 star rated venue with one reviewer saying it’s ‘wheelchair accessible, has friendly staff and affordable food and drink’.
Catch a show
You won’t be short for things to do in the evening in Leeds! The West Yorkshire Playhouse has a 4 star review and has a ‘top notch disabled loo with masses of space’ according to one visitor. Alternatively, you could visit Leeds Grand Theatre which is the 'premiere receiving house in Leeds' and is listed on Euan's Guide as having accessible performances and formats. If it's a movie you're in the mood for, Vue Cinema also has a 4 star rating with ‘plenty areas for wheelchair users to watch films’.
Music lovers might be interested in seeing a concert at First Direct Arena which was rated 5 stars by one person who says it is the ‘best place to watch concerts’. Stewards will meet you outside and offer assistance to your seats. You can also watch a gig at O2 Academy housed inside one of the city's 'most historic venues'. It's listed on Euan's Guide saying: "The main room bars have lowered sections for wheelchair users to access. The Merch Stall is accessible and has a lowered section. The Box Office is fitted with an induction loop".
If you're a fan of dance, Northern Ballet is based in the city in the Stanley and Audrey Burton Theatre. They are listed on Euan's Guide saying: "we schedule relaxed performances for Northern Ballet family productions, please contact the box office for more information.
Have you been to Leeds?
If you know Leeds well or have visited before, why not send us your pictures and reviews? We’d love to hear more about disabled access in this great city!
Last Updated - May 2017