Headingley. Rightly or wrongly, it’s got a certain reputation, and like it or loathe it, it’s got it’s very own way of life. There are certain things all Headingley residents know to be true.
1. Not everyone who lives there is a student
I don’t believe you. You’d better believe it. Contrary to appearances, Headingley isn’t 100% studentville. In fact, the most recent survey places the student population at just 14%. Sure, wander down some streets and you’ll find your fair share of Jeremy Kyle’s viewership, but the vast majority of residents enjoy sensible bedtimes and don’t tend to drink jagerbombs out of a shoe.
2. Cereal bars are pretty cool…
The Moo’d Cereal House is a relatively new addition to the Headingley scene, but it fits right in with immediate ease. At the end of the day, or more probably right at the start of it, who doesn’t love the idea of a bowl of Lucky Charms washed down with a cold beer?
3. …and so are milkshake bars!
Slightly more established in the LS6 furniture is Shake It!, a funky milkshake bar beside the library immensely popular with locals and hungover students alike. All the shakes you could imagine are on the menu – Oreo and mint? They’ve got it. Dime Bar and custard? It’s yours. Oh, and there are all manner of juices and smoothies, too.
4. The staff at Cafe Lento are the friendliest in the world
..and it’s one of the coolest places in Leeds. Delicious coffee is first and foremost, but live music is also on the menu in one of the most laid back and sleekest venues. Definitely morning people.
5. No one knows the official route to the Otley Run
Seriously, where does it go? We’re all in relative agreement that we kick things off at Woodie’s Ale House, but when you reach KFC, do you turn right to The Arc or press on with The Box? When are you meant to fit The Pit into proceedings? These are mysteries that remain unknown to generations of thirsty Headers-dwellers.
6. There’s an upstairs to Havana
Havana cocktail bar and lounge, HeadingleyTo the untrained passing eye, Havana may resemble a sleepy cocktail bar serving up drinks deals that make you wonder where the profit is. But step inside, past the bar and up the stairs, and there’s a whole different bar that comes alive at night. It’s like Narnia, with fewer lions and more rum and coke supping students from the midlands.
7. 3am football matches are a thing
According to Headingley’s male student hoardes, nothing signals the end of a big night out like a noisy kickabout on the street at 3am. Kebabs for goalposts, it’s all fun and games until one of them puts in a ‘mistimed’ tackle on his girlfriend’s ex. Either way, it makes for terrific viewing.
8. It’s the Thai food capital of Leeds*
*unofficial. But surely it’s no coincidence that three of the city’s finest Thai restaurants are within a stone’s throw of one another? Sukhothai represents a classy option, and is a regular hit-up for nervous first dates, Thai Sabai’s award-winning stylings are a top drawer mid-budget choice, and Jino’s Cafe, with it’s wallet-friendly BYOB policy, is every bit as good.
9. You can tell a lot about a person by their choice of late-night sandwich shop
Seriously, it’s like a turf war. Crunchies and Challenge are sandwich serving establishments that stay open as late as 4am, and once you’ve made the decision as to which is your favourite, there’s no going back. Your favourite is closed? Well, you’re going hungry. Infidelity is not an option.
10. It’s home to the most terrifying bouncer in the world
When Bernard says you’re not coming in, you’re not coming in. Standing at at least 9ft tall, The Box’s head bouncer looks like a cross between Michael Clarke Duncan and Godzilla. Rumour has it that he once knocked out an entire rugby team with a cough. Hard as nails.
11. Having 2 Sainsbury’s is handy, but not when arranging to meet
“I’ll meet you at Sainsbury’s,” she says. 20 minutes later, and you’re staring at your phone wondering whether or not you’ve been dumped. Did she mean the big Sainsbury’s, or the one nearest the stadium? Why can’t Tesco just put their hand in their pocket and help us all out?
12. It’s home to the world’s best beer garden
Summer days in Headingley are a little bit wonderful, and you’d be hard pushed to find a better place to spend one than in the Original Oak beer garden. At it’s very best with an England World Cup match on the massive outdoor screen, the dozens of picnic tables and heated patio make it the place to be when the sun is out.
13. The Cottage Cinema is a little-known gem
Unless you’ve been, there is a fair chance you don’t even know one of the UK’s nicest independent cinemas lives and breathes in little old Headingley. The Cottage Road Cinema is situated, imaginatively enough, on Cottage Road, and plays host to the latest flicks as well as a smattering of classics. If you’ve not been, go!
14. JRR Tolkien used to live here
Pretty cool, huh? It’s the go-to opening line of any landlord welcoming new tenants to the area, and actually, it’s a fact. Tolkien lived in Headingley throughout his education at Leeds University, and it’s local folklore that the Meanwood Valley served as the inspiration behind Middle Earth.
15. There is a third university in Leeds
Wade through all the varsity weekends and Met v Uni club events and you’ll occasionally uncover a student from Leeds’ lesser spotted higher education establishment. Leeds Trinity, situated a little stroll out of Headingley in Horsforth, is home to over 3,000 students. It’s alumni include Kimberley Walsh and Sky Sports News presenter Natalie Sawyer.
16. Oxfam is an absolute treasure trove
Charity shops can sometimes be a little bit, well, naff. It’s all for a great cause, but how many Hawaiian shirts can any one man need? Not in Headingley, who’s Oxfam store is a veritable treasure trove of all sorts. From vinyl to DVDs, designer clothing to books and comics, it’s got it all, and all at charity shop prices.
17. The Arc is full of beautiful people
Step into Headingley’s most vibrant and bustling bar any day of the week and you’ll find a constant stream of food and drinks offers, a friendly, trendy atmosphere and quality music. It’s the fulcrum of any Headingley night out, and yes, it is full of people that look like backing dancers from a music video. What’s not to like?
18. The Taps car park is a life saver
It’s the one bad thing about living in Headingley. With limited road space and quite often ten to a house, parking is a constant and complete nightmare. Enter the Headingley Taps car park, an absolute godsend for drivers when there’s a free spot. Also, once you’ve parked up, you’re no more than 20 metres from dirt cheap drinks offers. Just make sure you’ve got access to a taxi home!
19. The Headingley Club is an urban mystery
No group of lads has ever made the walk from The Box to The Arc without commenting on how “We should all get membership to The Headingley Club”. There’s a big sign outside claiming £2 pints, there’s a couple of snooker tables, there’s often live music and, well, it would be pretty cool. Has any group of lads ever followed through with this drunken brainwave? No.
20. The best fish and chips come served from a house
Only Headingley residents (and the well informed), know that the best fish and chips this side of Whitby are served from a little old house on North Lane. The grub is top notch, and when the sun shines, the front garden is open for service, as well as the old front room. Fancy a takeaway? Wander up the driveway and they’ll serve you from the old side door.
21. No one knows how to pronounce Nisa
Nee-sa? Nicer? Nobody knows. Like the Otley Run route, it’s a constant source of argument for Headingley residents. Don’t try asking the staff either, as everyone does on their 2am chocolate run, because they’re as clueless as the rest of us.
22. It’s the beer snake capital of the world
For people outside of the area, Headingley means two things – students and cricket, both of which are intrinsically linked to heavy drinking. There’s a whole different approach to watching cricket here, where old men with Thermos flasks sit behind the bowler’s arm and the infamous Western Terrace is set free to get drunk and wreak havoc on opposing teams. Place a plastic pint pot inside another, and another, and before long, you’ve got yourself a beer snake.
23. A Munch breakfast is the best hangover cure known to man
It’s a scientific fact. Any hangover can be obliterated in one fell swoop with one of their famous fry-ups, and that’s why Munch, on Vesper Road, is full to the brim every Saturday and Sunday morning. Worth the trip for the hash browns alone.
24. There is such thing as a quiet pint in Headingley
Non-residents may have you believe that every Headingley bar is choc full of fancy dress wearing student louts singing football songs and being sick on your shoes. Not so, as Arcadia, at the end of the Arndale complex, has a strict policy of not serving Otley Runners, and allows sensible minded folk the space and atmosphere to sample on of their fine ales or sumptuous wines.
25. Headingley is one of the best places to live in the world
Any young Loiner should live in ‘Headers’ at least once. There’s a range of bars to suit any mood, a vibrant, fresh vibe that reverberates through every street and restaurants to fit any budget, taste or style. Entertainment is never on short supply, with live music, comedy and even the occasional street performer on display, and one thing is for sure, you’ll miss it when you leave.