Leicester is an up and coming part of the country that's been lovingly regenerated to make it well worth a visit, whether it's for the city of Leicester itself or for some of the beautiful surrounding countryside and attractions.
Something a little bit different if you've been all chilled out with a delectable spa visit is the National Space Centre, an up-to-the-minute challenge that gives you a chance to explore, and where you can find out about space including a 3D ride or a chance to see a space journey through the eyes of an astronaut.
For a more down to earth, cultured visit, there's the genteel New Walk Museum and Art Gallery in the New Walk area of Leicester. It's home to Victorian collections from the Literary and Philosophical Society and the museum has an excellent reputation. Mixing a bit of history with some retail therapy opportunities is the famous covered market which is over 700 years old and is one of the biggest of its kind in Europe. Bargain!
Regency Belvoir Castle is still home to the Duke and Duchess of Rutland but they open it up for visitors, to show off the treasures the family has collected - including a private art collection - one of the biggest in the country. If you're not in an arty mood, the Old Kitchen and Bakery gives you a taste of 'below the stairs' action in 1825.
Leicester is well known for its Asian influences, and a walk down Belgrave Road is choc-full of exotic sights and smells, exquisitely embroidered saris, beautiful jewellery and great food.
- There are plenty of reasons to stay overnight or longer in lovely Leicestershire, and sketchley grange hotel spa in hinckley is just one of them. it's a beautiful spa with a gorgeous roman themed swimming pool which is so pretty it's won awards. the serenity spa is the place to go for a pampering treatment in one of the well-stocked treatment rooms, and elsewhere you'll find all you need from a pamper day in this charming spa, from pretty pools to a great gym and fabulously restorative aroma steam room. if you/"re peckish we highly recommend the bistro or the Willow restaurant.
- The stunning stapleford park country house and sporting estate in melton isn't just a spa, it/"s a beautiful hotel and a country park, to boot. The old Victorian Stable Block has been lovingly converted to contain a lovely spa that has no less than seven treatment rooms, Clarins products, a heavenly relaxation area where you can catch up with a good book while you recline on a comfy chair, and an excellent Technogym. The gorgeous pool area includes a 22m pool, sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi too.
It's impossible to talk about Leicester cuisine without talking about the myriad of delicious Indian and Asian food that's on offer. Many of the restaurants are more like experiences than mere eateries, with stylish, contemporary restaurants serving up a delicious fusion of indo-Chinese influences and some more traditional curry houses with the type of food you would expect.
Leicester was voted 'Curry Capital of Britain' in 2007, and if curry is a favourite of yours, seven restaurants were nominated in 2011 to represent Leicester's bid by readers of the local Leicester Mercury newspaper, and these were;
- The Curry House on London Road
- T and K Balti House on Green Lane Road
- Ek Maya on Dysart Way
- Kabalou's on Loughborough Road
- Curry Fever on Belgrave Road
- Spice House in Barwell
- Little India Restaurant in Arnesby.
- Anjuna is a contemporary yet still authentic Indian and Goan restaurant with a relaxed atmosphere. There are some unusual flavours and dishes on the menu, resulting from a fusion of Portuguese and Indian cuisine with a taste of coconut, palm vinegar and red chillies in addition to plenty of other unusual menu choices. It's certainly one for the adventurous traveller with a taste for spices and unusual ingredients.
Address: 6 Highcross Street, Leicester LE1 4NN
Tel: 0116 251 2229
- For a more familiar taste of continental cuisine, the friendly, family run Antibo Italian restaurant in Leicester has been serving well-made and well-priced quality Italian food for over 15 years. The restaurant has an intriguing open style kitchen which means that you can watch your meal being created in the kitchen as you wait for your food to arrive. There's also lovely big bar area where you can relax on the leather sofas and enjoy a cheeky cocktail.
Address: 62A London Road, Leicester LE2 5DH
Tel: 0116 225 0000
- One of the most well-known bars and restaurants in Leicester is the stylish Entropy which has an enviable reputation for serving great food. In February 2003, the bar won the 'Best pub/bar meal in Leicestershire' award at the Leicestershire tourism awards and it's also been in the finals of the Heart of England Awards and the Observer food Monthly Food Awards. The restaurant prides itself on serving the best quality British food, and the menu stays true to its local roots.
Address: 42 Hinckley Road, Leicester LE3 0RB
Tel: 0116 225 9650
- Las Iguanas is the place to go for Latin American food and a cocktail to accompany it. The bar is famous for producing and importing its very own version of Cachaca - Brazil's national spirit. Foodies with a taste for Latino spice will love the diverse menu, which has been inspired by authentic regional dishes from Brazil, Columbia and Argentina. The restaurant caters for kids and lunch diners as well and has an impressive tapas selection.
Address: 13-15 Belvoir Street, Leicester LE1 6SL
Tel: 0116 285 9180
- Back to Asian menus and the huge Mansah Indian Buffet restaurant is the biggest restaurant in Leicester. Housed in an old building, there's a large downstairs eating area and a constantly changing menu. The food is absolutely scrumptious, with a distinct flavour of India, fresh, tasty ingredients and aromatic spices. For entertainment, on Friday and Saturday night there's a resident DJ and a dance floor for you to dance off some of that delicious food.
Address: 28 Dysart Way, Leicester LE1 2JY
- More authentic Italian food is on offer from Cheikho's which is a really sweet, quaint restaurant that's tastefully decorated, calm and relaxing and split over two levels. The menu is fun, always changing and caters for the old and the new, making the most of the local produce. The a la carte menu is excellent and if you're in the mood for something tasty to wash it all down with, rumour has it that the wine list is excellent too.
Address: 9 Leicester Road, Oadby, Leicester LE2 5BD
Tel: 0116 271 1933
- Aperitivo Tapas is another restaurant with a cracking reputation among those in the know in Leicester. Serving the best quality Spanish-style food and delicious tapas, the restaurant has been providing great food since 1987. The décor is warm and inviting and the menu features what it describes as 'superior European cuisine' along with some great entertainment every Friday and Saturday. Prices are reasonable and it's very popular so booking ahead is a great idea.
Address: 5 Highfield Street, Leicester LE2 1AB
Tel: 0116 254 0383
Leicester is a thriving student city so you can expect to find plenty of bars, pubs, clubs and music venues in the city.
If clubs aren't your thing, De Montfort Hall or The Musician might be right up your street, with their eclectic mix of intimate music nights, gigs and jam nights. The Musician has attracted quite a mix of acts, including people as diverse as Lethal Bizzle, Dodgy and Joanne Shaw Taylor - and if you fancy a go yourself there's even an open-mic session.
Comedy is also catered for in Leicestershire with Highlight Leicester, Curve, De Montfort Hall and the Peepul Centre all on offer with a varied calendar of acts that will appeal to lovers of all different comedy genres.
- Musically, the SHED is a fantastic place right in the heart of Leicester, which opened its doors in 1994 and has been a showcase for local bands ever since, including up and coming music acts and unsigned bands from Leicester and beyond. The venue has welcomed the Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian, The Subways and Proud Mary; with up to five bands on stage every night and monthly W.O.O Saturday matinee events for younger musicians (college bands and teenage musicians).
- The Musician may be hidden away in a back street but it's worth the effort to find, as it's reputed to be the Midlands premier independent music venue. The Musician offers a range of live music on six nights a week or more, as well as comfy seats and a selection of real ales. The venue regularly features an amazing variety of acts, whether you want to hear contemporary singer-songwriters, rock bands, blues, folk groups, a bit of ska, punk, reggae, metal, soul, indie, avant-garde and Americana. There must be something there you fancy?
- Firebug has been in Leicester since 2004 and has been established for years as a major part of the city's night life as well as somewhere to hang out during the day if the shopping crowds get a bit too much. The bar is light and spacious and there's also a surprisingly quiet beer garden to kick back in. Firebug likes to boast of having one of the most extensive drinks ranges in Leicester city centre which includes a fantastic cocktail menu - and a choice of home-cooked food which is also available every day. After hours, the relaxed dress code and varied music policy appeals to everyone, from students to professionals, and it's top of the list for visitors too
- Taps Bar and Restaurant is a little bit different. The serve-yourself policy provides a totally unique drinking experience, where you can sample good food along with beers from all over the world, which you can pour yourself, using the tap at your very own table. Taps is to be found within one of the oldest buildings in Leicester, which also features some stunning vaulted brickwork in its cellars. The bar is certainly worth a visit, even just for its novelty value, and even more so if you're a beer lover as over 50 varieties of beer, cider and delicious fruit beers all served on rotation at the same time.
- For fun-loving party girls (and boys) Acapella is a good choice - it's Leicester's first ever Karaoke pod bar. If you feel like a bit of privacy, you can hire your very own private booth with its own individual karaoke system and waiter service. There is a lovely menu of drinks to choose from as well, so you'll be catered for drinks-wise whether you prefer a cool beer or a complicated cocktail. There's also a menu of light snacks if you get the munchies.
- Another bar to be seen in is the elegant Bar Gaudi / Mosquito Coast. The first thing you'll see when you enter the bar is its amazing architecture - influenced by the legendary Spanish architect, Gaudi. Once you've taken all that in and decided on your drink, enjoy the music, the ornate décor and a fantastic atmosphere.
- Get the relaxed vibe from the Fat Cat Leicester with its lovely comfortable sofas, decadent plush velvet curtains and cutesy flowers. The cocktail and champagne bar is a great place to relax in, while you choose from a wide range of cocktails and spirits on the drinks menu, and you can eat there too, whether indoors or outside in the courtyard.
- Revolution is a friendly yet trendy venue that's just as good to visit during the day as it is to party in during the night. The cocktail menu is enviable, and if you're hungry you can get there before 8pm and still get served with excellent food. After 8 the party starts, and there's a fabulous range of entertainment to suit all tastes.
Leicester is a big city with big shopping opportunities, so if you still have some cash to splash after your spa break, get into the city and start spending money. Investigate the posh shops in Highcross Leicester - the home of 'aspirational shopping' as well as an attractive place to see some modern architecture. The shops on offer include high end brands and department stores from All Saints to John Lewis, Reiss and L'Occitane.
For independent boutiques and one-offs, find the pretty Leicester Lanes and enjoy the atmosphere as well as the chance to find a perfect bargain in a historical part of Leicester city centre. You'll find pretty, quirky little gift shops, jewellers selling original designs and upmarket boutiques with a selection of catwalk inspired originals and designer labels.
If you're looking for the high street brand names there are two indoor shopping centres - the Haymarket and the Shires Centre. The Shires is all walkways and grand staircases and boasts shops aplenty including Debenhams and Rackham's, some smaller speciality shops and plenty of places to rest your feet and enjoy a bite to eat.
Belgrave Road and its 'Golden Mile' is where you can enjoy browsing a whole heap of shops and traders selling authentic South Asian food, fashions and jewellery.
LEICESTER'S TOP THREE SPAS
- One of the top spas in Leicestershire is also one of the most famous, the fabulous Champneys Springs Health Spa. It’s a top of the range spa that always keeps up with the latest treatments and facilities, including indulgent treatments from Babor, Clarins, Elemis and more. The spa has some amazing holistic therapies to relax into, as well as an up to date gym, fantastic swimming pool and soothing thalassotherapy pool to laze around in – and more relaxation in restaurants, chill out areas and a chic coffee bar.
- Leicestershire is certainly spoiled for choice with its spas, as there’s not one but TWO health farms. Ragdale Hall Health Hydro is set in some beautifully inspiring countryside and it’s massive, with a staff of over 400 on hand, including enough therapists to cater for any treatment you fancy while you’re there. It’s a hydrotherapy haven at heart with pools galore, the brand new thermal spa complex includes water falls, candle-lit and massage-based pools as well as swimming and spa pools.
- A spa in a health club is the perfect place to discover what a spa day is all about – so just as well there’s one in Leicester for you to try. The Elemis treatments at the bannatyne/"s Health Club and Spa in Leicester are absolutely delicious, and they cater for beauty and health needs alike, whether you’re a gym bunny and want to go for it in the top of the range gym, or cater for your beauty needs with a spray tan. There are three dedicated treatment rooms to choose from and if you choose to sample a spa day here you can also swim, take a fitness class, have a bite to eat and chill out in the relaxation area, steam room or sauna.