Area Guide: Leicester

Sipping coffee around Abbey Park. Co-working in Victorian textile factories. A show in the Cultural Quarter before dinner on the Golden Mile. There’s always something new to discover on The Wullcomb’s doorstep.

To Do

Start your morning with a few asanas at Yoga House – a plant-lined studio perfect for slow flows and strong poses. Or stretch your legs closer to home; Abbey Park’s just ten minutes from The Wullcomb (we like to think of it as our back garden). There are a few running trails if you’re in a high-energy mood. Or take a seat by the lake, croissant in hand.

Leicester has a strong cultural pedigree: Richard Attenborough began acting here, Sue Townsend penned Adrian Mole, Kasabian first recorded at Bedrock Studios. But there’s a new wave of creatives in town. Get on board at The Mill by Graffwerk – best on Saturdays when workshops pop up between its artist studios, paint shop and vegan café. And follow its guide to LE1’s aerosol art. From The Wullcomb, Mexican artist Juanderez Vera’s Silver Street mural is a good starting point.

For a friends night out, take them to Lane 7. Filling a former train station, its shiny, ten-pin bowling alleys, crazy golf, retro arcade games and karaoke make this an adult playground. Staying into the small hours is easy thanks to a street-style food court (Deckard’s bao buns will fuel a few rounds of ping-pong).

To Shop

The city is home to one of Europe’s largest covered markets. Cut through its stalls of flowers, fabrics and pet supplies to the Food Hall, where traders such as the Trawlerman and Frank Lee & Sons butchers have fed locals for decades. Make sure Sparkenhoe red Leicester is on the shopping list when you stop by Sherwin’s Cheese Company.

Rattan baskets crammed with rugs tempt us into Harriman & Co. This independent old-town store puts together a homeware edit that’s elemental, ethical and shines a light on local makers. Expect utilitarian kitchenware and earthy ceramics. Co-owner and design consultant Drew Harriman will also help you commission bespoke pieces.

For mid-century dining room sets, vintage teak side tables and perfectly kitsch pieces to fill your home, K&G Curated Space is the place. While co-founders Gra and ex-interior designer Helen Kenny don’t have a bricks-and-mortar store, they do run their renowned Etsy shop from an old hosiery factory in the city centre. Yet another set of creatives breathing new life into old buildings.

To Drink

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that good mornings start with good coffee. Fuel an early walk with an Americano from St Martin’s Coffee Roasters, which roasts beans in small batches next to the Grand Union Canal. Think flaky pastries, creamy flat whites and single-origin coffee. It’s a dinner spot too – from Thursday to Saturday evenings the café transforms into a pop-up restaurant called Crafty. Order the katsu chicken nuggets.

The convenience of having Leicester’s first craft brewery ten minutes away from your front door shouldn’t go to waste. Make Framework your post-work beer order (Friday Street IPA is an apt choice at the end of a long week) or buy a mini keg to keep at home.

Equally close is The Bottle Garden, where botanicals creep from the menu to the interior. All low-lit Edison bulbs, rag-painted walls, encaustic tiles and industrial furniture, it’s an ideal date spot. Cheers with blood-orange margaritas over an antipasti board.

To Eat

Takeaway avocado toast might cut it on a Wednesday morning, but when the weekend comes around, it’s the leather sofas and creamy hollandaise at Cosy Club that appeal. A three-minute walk from our front door, this former knitwear factory is all strung-up factory lighting, riveted girders and upcycled furniture. Find a seat by a heater in the secret garden and stay long after the Cosy Coladas start flowing.

By the time dinner comes around, Lilu is our favourite local spot. Its dishes mix recipes passed down through the family of its Gujurati owners with seasonal ingredients from its sister deli in Wigston Fields. You might have heard of owner Pratik Master – named Food Hero of 2020, he ploughs his profits into Leicester’s food banks and charities. Order the spiced soft-shell crab and the creamy black-lentil dal makhani before rolling back to The Wullcomb – conveniently the journey only takes a few minutes.

But if you’re after a more formal affair, head to The White Peacock for some of Leicestershire’s delicious, locally sourced and seasonal ingredients. Think venison from nearby Bradgate Park, buttery king oyster mushrooms and a hit of truffle. In colder climes, ask for the table by the fire. But when the days get longer, we’d opt for a window table set for two.

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