We fOUND ourselves walking from Hyde Park up toward Headingley on a blustery night last week.
After navigating some of the smaller backroads between those two locations, we eventually end up on the main Otley Road, which feels somewhat safer, owing to it being busier and more exposed and has fewer wheeled bins, which are the scourge of some of the roads in Hyde Park.
As we approach the corner near St Michael’s Church, my partner poses the question: Original Oak or Skyrack? I like both but I’ve not been to the Skyrack in a while and so it’s there we end up. Both of these pubs, which face one another across the busy A660, have to be among the most popular watering holes in the area. They are fully paid up members of the Otley Run, of course and as such they must cater for a broad, ever churning customer base but they do have a number of things in their favour. The first is space. There’s acres of it. Even though it’s relatively busy on a Saturday night and we have to queue at the bar, there’s still plenty or room to stand or even sit - we spy two seats over in one of the alcoves, close to a large group of students. The second is history. It’s Grade II listed but more than that takes its name from the old oak tree which dated back to Viking times and which collapsed last century.
We go for Tanqueray gin and Fever Tree Tonic (£9.90) for two pretty huge glasses chocked full of ice and delivered with two entirely unnecessary plastic straws (given all the adverse publicity about such things, it would be great to see pub chains such as Greene King, which own the Skyrack, to take a lead on this). The drinks selection is more than good, with all the usual suspects but also the likes of Beavertown Neck Oil Session IPA.
Royal Park Hotel, Hyde Park
What a lovely traditional pub, which still retains (as far as I can tell) its original layout, with a bar which opens out onto multiple rooms, a pool room, ceilings so high you would struggle to reach them with a ladder and a central staircase which looks as though it belongs in a country manor house. Follow those stairs up and round to the left and you will find a decent sized function room. Downstairs, it’s busy. I counted three door staff, so make of that what you will, but we didn’t see any bother.
It was four-deep at the bar when we arrived and so it took 10 minutes to be served - we indulged in two pints of Amstel, a double-G&T (Gordons with enough T to fill the now obligatory goldfish bowl anyway), a large house white wine and some crisps, all of which came to just over £27. Bit pricey (or is that me?). Inside could do with a refresh but it is still a nice place in which to enjoy a drink. Smartphone quiz is on Thursdays, karaoke Fridays. poker on Wednesdays.
Address: Skyrack, Otley Road, Leeds
Royal Park Hotel: Queens Road, Hyde Park
Royal Park: 3/5