LEEDS

The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE - IBIS STYLES CITY CEN­TRE ARENA

“COME IN and let us sur­prise you” is the mes­sage greet­ing guests at the en­trance to the new ibis Styles Leeds City Cen­tre Arena. Well for me it did — and on two counts.

The first is the tie-up with a branch of Marco Pierre White’s Marco’s New York Ital­ian (there is an en­trance within the ho­tel). The se­cond is that the es­tab­lish­ment has gone full-on “Yawk­shire”.

This is ini­tially ev­i­dent in the chillout area on the ground floor where the board games in­clude a Leeds edi­tion of Mo­nop­oly and a gi­ant im­age of the Leeds United foot­ball team from the glory days of the Don Re­vie era.

As the “Ey up chuck” wel­come em­bla­zoned on the room card holder should in­di­cate, the ef­fect is even more pro­nounced within the ac­com­mo­da­tion it­self. “Ave a gander” is the im­plor­ing mes­sage on the large mir­ror next to my room door. I con­fess I had to Google “put t’wood in t’oil” but I now know it means “close the door”. And the brand of the com­pli­men­tary tea bags? York­shire, of course.

The room ba­sics pos­i­tively re­flect the ibis rep­u­ta­tion for cheap and cheer­ful. No pricey toi­letries or fancy snacks but a comfy bed, de­cent wash­ing fa­cil­i­ties, ef­fec­tive light­ing and am­ple power sock­ets. Con­tin­u­ing the lo­cal theme, a wooden board above the bed fea­tures an aes­thet­i­cally pleas­ing map of cen­tral Leeds.

In lo­ca­tion terms, the ho­tel is un­de­ni­ably in the heart of things, and staff are good in terms of ad­vice on di­rec­tions and trans­port — and in my case re­plac­ing a ripped tote bag con­tain­ing my jour­nal­is­tic es­sen­tials.

The ibis Styles is barely a 10-minute walk from the train sta­tion and close to cul­tural and en­ter­tain­ment at­trac­tions. Among them is the ex­cel­lent Leeds City Mu­seum, which re­flects the sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion of Jewish per­son­al­i­ties, as well as cov­er­ing is­sues such as an­ti­semitism. One of the most im­pres­sive ex­hibits is de­voted to prom­i­nent suf­fragette Leonora Co­hen (nee Thorp), who mar­ried a Jew against the ex­press wishes of his fam­ily. If vis­it­ing friends in the main Jewish ar­eas of Al­wood­ley and Moor­town, it’s around a ten­ner by cab.

Back at the ho­tel, Marco’s of­fers some re­fresh­ing sum­mer cock­tails, a good fish se­lec­tion — I would rec­om­mend the salmon Napoli style – and a suit­ably Ital­ian al­co­holic fi­nale in Si­cil­ian lemon sor­bet with frozen limon­cello.

Guests also take break­fast in the restau­rant, but when I vis­ited it was the ibis ver­sion — ba­sic. Staff hope a Marco’s break­fast will be in­tro­duced so make sure to “ave a gander” again.

RATES: Rooms from £64 www.ibis.com

BARRY TOBERMAN

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