After having seen loads on social media about the Dakota Deluxe (and speaking to Bee at Blog At The Beach about her wonderful stay the night before) I was thrilled when I heard that I was being invited to stay the night and celebrate Burns Night.
The should-have-been short drive between Leeds and York was compounded by the fact that Leeds is impossible to drive in. I swear that every street is a one-way street and that poor Sam drove around the city in circles trying to find the correct exit for me. When I arrived at the hotel, the receptionist was absolutely lovely (and as a huge credit to her, she even remembered me and our conversation the next morning when I checked out!) Because of the driving kerfuffle, I hopped into the lift up to the 7th floor to drop off my bags before speeding back down to the Burns Night event (which I was now more than fashionably late for).
The event was a celebration of Scottish whiskies with small Scottish plates served throughout the evening. It might be the American in me, but I prefer bourbon to whisky (or it could be my sweet-tooth as one of the major flavour differences is that bourbon is sweeter than Scotch whisky). But regardless of not being a Scotch whisky drinker, it was still fascinating to get to hear from an expert about different whiskies, see how different regions of Scotland produce changes in flavour and learn about why the various whiskies were selected.
One of the most interesting things I picked up on during the tasting wasn’t about Scotland at all: the lovely lecturer mentioned that he thought if you weren’t drinking Scottish whisky then you should try to get ahold of some Japanese whisky – that it’s rare, but really interesting. Not many companies in Japan make whisky but one of the oldest Japanese whisky companies sent a distiller to Scotland to study in the process in the early 1900s and brought the process back to Japan in the 1920s.
The whiskies were paired with classic tiny plates of Scottish national dishes: haggis, neeps and tatties, cranachan, oat biscuits and cheese, and lots of desserts. (And the hotel was really lovely about providing plant-based alternatives). In full disclosure – I had to google what “cranachan” was on my phone on the sly because I had no idea what everyone was talking about when they were referring to the next course.
The event ended with a Gaelic blessing and the whole event was fascinating and I loved learning about a topic that I had little knowledge of.
The Dakota Deluxe hasn’t been in Leeds long – less than a year, in fact. It’s the 4th hotel in the Dakota group which is led by Ken McCulloch who founded Malmaison Hotels. It’s the first Dakota hotel south of the Scottish border – there are two near Glasgow and one in Edinburgh.
The 84-bedroom hotel has the Bar & Grill restaurant and Salon Privé, a cocktail bar with a first-floor terrace. It has the same trademark Malmaison style – low lighting and a dark palette . Very whisky, leather and cigar-smoke ambience-wise. The attention to style detail in the hotel is impeccable – I particularly thought the black-glass windows on the outside were very striking.
The doormen wear flat caps in a lovely Yorkshire touch. In fact, there are lots of nods to the hotel’s Yorkshire location whilst still maintaining the integrity of this Scottish brand.
When I entered the room, I discovered that the Dakota had left a welcome message and a little tray of goodies for me. It was such a lovely, personal touch and it’s that kind of attention to detail that truly makes a luxury hotel.
The hallway lights in the Dakota are motion-sensor lights: something I approve of for multiple reasons: one it’s better for the environment than leaving the lights on all night long; and two, you don’t have any light pollution from the hallway creeping under the door into your room.
The view from my room was lovely and looked down at Greek Street and the Alchemist. And the view was even more beautiful the next morning. And I hear that some of the other rooms have balconies – lucky ducks!
I was in a classic double room, but the room itself was very, very large. With plenty of space for the bed, plush sofa, table, bedside tables, wardrobe and desk. The linen on the bed was of an excellent quality and I loved how many pillows there were. I like to sleep with a minimum of two pillows so the beds at the Dakota Deluxe were ideal for me!
The shower was especially heavenly – a large rainfall shower with excellent water pressure. The Deluxe and Executive rooms all have bathtubs as well. (Something I definitely look at when I’m booking a hotel for myself as a treat.)
I spent an hour or so after the Burns Night event memorising lines for the play that I’m in (no rest for the wicked!) but then to continue the Scottish theme, I curled up in the ultra comfortable bed and watched “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” on Sky Movies. (Did I mention that the telly had Sky? When I mentioned that fact to Sam on the phone that night, that was what he was most jealous about!)
My only slight criticism of the whole experience was breakfast the next morning. There weren’t really any plant-based breakfast items on the hot menu – which is completely fine of course! I don’t expect a hotel or restaurant to cater to all dietary restrictions! So I just ordered the avocado, tomato, sourdough toast and poached egg – without the egg, and they were very accommodating of that change; however, the avocado itself was super bland and I could barely identify any tomato in there at all. A dash of lemon or a quick sprinkle of salt would have gone a long way on that dish.
Overall, I had an absolutely wonderful stay at the Dakota Deluxe in Leeds. It’s not my usual aesthetic but I can completely see why its rated the #1 hotel in Leeds on TripAdvisor.
The Dakota Deluxe Leeds is located at 8 Russell St, Leeds LS1 5RN, England
Have you stayed there before? If you’re desperately wracking your brain for something romantic to do for Valentine’s Day, a stay here certainly wouldn’t be amiss!
***My stay at the Dakota Deluxe, Leeds was complimentary, but all opinions, as always, are forever my own***