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Happy Hour, Shopping and Luscious Lunches – Seven Things We Love About Getting Back to the Office

· Andrew Emery · Culture

Fall in love with the city all over again.

Wellington Place

There are perks to being back in the office, including the chance to win incredible prizes for the whole team. From slap-up burger lunches to cocktail masterclasses at your desk – find out what’s up for grabs this week.

The city centre has missed us, and here are seven things we’re looking forward to rediscovering…

Heading back to work – you know, in the actual office – isn’t just about the job. After the novelty of working at home in pyjamas wears off, we all end up missing the things that make working in the office much less of a chore. Here’s how to embrace being back at the heart of things and make the most of colleagues, the office banter and those tempting happy-hour deals…

Grabbing lunch

Trinity Kitchen

Say ‘adios’ to warming up leftovers and ‘ola’ to the rich smorgasbord of lovely delights that is Leeds on a lunchtime. Whether it’s a food-fuelled business meeting, a catch-up with a friend or a chance to share office gossip with your colleagues, the city is full of tempting places to grab what we true northerners really call ‘dinner’, all of which come with a ‘you don’t have to do the washing up after’ guarantee.

What are you in the mood for? If it’s hearty fare with a side of well-pulled ale, head to Whitelocks. If you want something light, fresh and zingy, head to Sushi Waka for sashimi and salads. Can’t decide? Trinity Kitchen’s array of residents and ever-changing food trucks has something for every taste, whether vegan, veggie or carnivore. Unless you’ve got your own food truck in your driveway, you aren’t going to get this at home!

After-work drinks

It doesn’t have to be Friday for after-work drinks. Leeds is awash with happy hours that span the week, the perfect time to get to know your workmates better, bank some good times and make up for all those stilted Zoom drinks. There’s no planning where to meet and no conflicting schedules – you can just pile out of the office and into your favourite watering hole.

If it is a Friday, start the weekend in style with well-crafted cocktails at Smokestack or £3 drinks at Distrikt. If you want to beat the Monday blues, you can get drinks deals every day of the week at Turtle Bay and Revolución de Cuba, or go for the 2-4-1 cocktails at Banyan. Want some grub with your grog? Grab a bench at Bundobust for superior Indian street food and booze. Welcome back to your social life.

Nipping to the shops

Victoria Gate

© Copyright Leeds-List 2022 by Contakt Photography

We’re not knocking your local parade or retail park but, let’s be honest, it’s not the city centre is it? One of the best things about being back in the office is being able to pop out to grab that all-important birthday card, last-minute present or to treat yourself to something new. Heck, there’s no better place to food shop than at Kirkgate Market if you’ve got next to nothing in for tea.

Leeds is a true shopping destination, with its mix of stylish and swish shopping centres – take a bow Trinity Leeds and Victoria Gate – an endless number of wonderful indies and those oh-so-gorgeous arcades. Late-night shopping was once reserved for Thursdays, but now you can give your wallet a workout after-hours at the likes of Harvey Nichols and John Lewis any day of the week. Why else do we even go to work?

Networking and nattering

Leeds Digital Festival

While many companies have done great work in keeping on top of professional development over the last few years, there’s no doubt that we all do better when we’re face-to-face. That goes not just for official networking events and training courses, but also those day-to-day watercooler moments and chats waiting for the kettle to boil. Bouncing ideas around is all part of the pleasure of getting back to the office.

Leeds is also awash with opportunities if you want to push on and talk with like-minded colleagues or people in the same sector. Weekly meet-ups cover every niche and career, whether it’s women in tech, BAME networks or sustainability professionals. There are big-hitting events peppering the calendar too, including the renowned Leeds Digital Festival and the provocative Leeds International Festival of Ideas.

Watching the city change

Dear Leeds

Leeds has a restless spirit, with a city centre that’s constantly changing, improving and evolving. If you’ve been working from your dining table for two years, you’ve missed a lot of stuff. 2022 has seen a slew of new openings, and in 2021, we got the likes of social darts at Flight Club, world-class ramen at House of Fu, Brew York’s new taproom and loads of new arrivals in the Victoria Quarter.

But that’s not the only thing that’s great about working and living in the city again, as you can also watch the city change with the seasons. From October’s Light Night through to Dear Leeds reappearing before Christmas, there’s loads to look forward to. Street markets pop up and ice rinks arrive seemingly overnight, in short, being in the office lets you make the most of the ever-changing city.

Getting hale and healthy

Workout in TRIB3 Gym

Thanks for everything, Joe Wicks, but some of us prefer working out on real equipment without the dog looking at us funny. Heading back to the office can really help you get back into your gym routine, setting aside your lunch hour to sweat it out at TRIB3, try your hand at Barrecore or get your cardio fix at Puregym. And doesn’t yoga with other people, at the unique Hot Room in The Core, sound better than doing it in front of the TV?

It doesn’t have to just be about classes. You can up your step count by walking into work or spending your lunchtimes wandering our magnificent city. Even better, see another side of Leeds while gently burning off the calories by exploring the cornucopia of striking street art on a public street art trail, or challenge yourself to tick off all the owls that dot the city – you can even download a map. Culture and calorie-burning? We’re in.

Embracing the city’s culture

The Leeds Mummy

Speaking of culture, you really need to be in the city to make the most of all the amazing stuff to see and do here. Get a screen break during lunch by heading to Leeds Cathedral for the serene experience of free organ music, or grab a ticket for a lunchtime recital at Howard Assembly Room. Want to make sweet sounds yourself? Leeds City Museum has a monthly community choir at lunch that is open to all.

While you’re at the museum, say hi to their famous Egyptian mummy, Nesyammun, just one of the many incredible things you can see for free in Leeds. That list also includes the modern art installations at The Tetley, stunning sculpture from Rodin, Moore and Hepworth at Leeds Art Gallery and the treasures of history at Royal Armouries. When it comes to truly appreciating culture in Leeds, virtual visits just don’t cut it.

Cover image credit: Bevan Cockerill.