Bar review: The Queens Bar, City Square, Leeds

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The dominating presence of the ivory white Queens Hotel in Leeds city centre is a welcoming sight.

Towering over City Square in its current state since 1937, the four-star venue is to many a grand and iconic structure that seems fit for a king.

Its facade is an image etched into the minds of Leeds residents as one of the first memorable symbols of the city as you leave Leeds city station.

By day the stalwart hotel’s in-house bar has its own City Square entrance that is open to those passers-by who are taken in by the eye-catching architecture of the grand building.

But as the evening draws in you have to step in through the impressive revolving doors and make your way through what is a gleaming wood and polished-metal reception.

Entering The Queens Bar from within the hotel, you turn into a dramatic split-level space featuring heavy-set marble pillars, framed black and white photographs and a broad staircase that leads you down to the double-height main bar space which is overlooked by diners in the raised balcony-style sections above.

It’s as peculiar as it is impressive in many ways.

The venue is dotted with in-places garish coloured Art Deco furnishings including pink, purple and green patterned armchairs, orange-backed stools and tall, bright pink planters that would look more at home on the set of the Graham Norton Show than in a classy hotel bar. And with the circle-patterned orange and blue carpet, it’s all a bit over-facing, and heavily highlighted by the unnecessarily bright evening lighting.

All this is in a plush, impressive chandelier-lit bar space with a bar counter adorned with statuesque flame-shaped lanterns and backed with towering mirrors just makes the venue feel as confused as it is striking.

The menu at The Queens Bar is pretty simple, while covering all the bases.

It stars a selection of around eight classic cocktails at £7.95 each, a dozen white, red and rose wines priced from £4.95 for a small glass, champagne and sparkling wine as well as a handful of beers and ciders both on tap and in bottles. Hand-pulled choices include Black Sheep Ale, Somersby cider and Carlsberg from £3.85.

We opted for a refreshing and simple rum-based Mojito, which was delivered to our table, and bottles of Peroni and Miller Genuine Draught that brought the bill to a rather pricey £15.15.

Open from 8am until late each day, the focus of The Queens Bar is of course on its hotel clients and daytime and early evening visitors.

In fact the clientele is markedly different as darkness draws in, with the suited and booted business lunch/ afternoon tea brigade making way for solitary hotel occupants after a quick meal along with post-work groups.

Despite this noticeable change, the lighting remains slightly overpowering which does not do the atmosphere any favours while pop music from the likes of Take That and Ellie Goulding detracts from what is a classy, vintage space.

Overall it’s a grand hotel bar with some enviable architectural features, such as numerous stunning chandeliers, striking marble pillars and a theatrical double-height main bar space.

But the overtly bright furnishings and lack of night-time atmosphere don’t really do the class of the bar’s prominent features justice – you feel it could be so much more come the evening.

PIC: Simon Hulme

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