By Rhonda Carrier
My boys always want to know exactly why we are going somewhere, as if to assess whether it's worth their while. With Leeds, it was easy to set their mind at rest with the promise of swashbuckling and bloodthirsty goings-on at the Royal Armouries Museum. A fantastic place to bring boys in particular – it’s free to visit and full of space to run around in – the UK’s national museum of arms, armour and artillery counts among its dastardly delights some of Henry VIII’s armour, weapons from some of the world's biggest conflicts, and oddities including some Indian armour made from armadillo skin.
'The Royal Armouries was worth the train journey alone, but we were making a mini-break of it so also checked out Leeds City Museum and Harewood House with its Capability Brown gardens, lakeside and woodland walks, famous Bird Garden, fabulous adventure playground, sweet shop and fish-and-chip shop'
My boys loved Royal Armouries under-10s play area, where they were able to shoot mini-crossbows and dress up as knights. They were also hugely impressed by the thrilling live display of Samurai swordmanship, one of a program of activities and events that it’s worth timing your visit to coincide with – other highlights include horse shows with jousting, stable tours, falconry displays and sword sessions for ages 10–16 (note that there are charges for some shows and activities).
Though fully deserving of its reputation as Yorkshire’s stag and hen capital, Leeds has a surprising amount to offer for family breaks. The Royal Armouries Museum was worth the train journey from Manchester alone, but we were making a mini-break of it so also spent a few hours checking out the Leeds City Museum (also free) with its four floors of interactive galleries on everything from local history to ancient civilisations. The boys were particularly taken by the giant map of the city that you can walk (or run around) on to discover its places of interest and different communities.
It was particularly fun to locate and stand on Harewood House, an 18th-century residence just outside Leeds that we had visited the day before. Harewood’s Capability Brown gardens include lakeside and woodland walks, but its main appeal for kids is its famous Bird Garden and its fabulous adventure playground. Those and the sweet shop and the fish-and-chip shop, that is…
There are plenty of great places to stay and eat with kids in Leeds. On this visit, we were very pleased with our stay at the Roomzzz Leeds City, an apart-hotel including one- and two-bedroom suites for four, all with compact kitchens with dishwashers and washer-driers. Although the benefits of serviced apartments such as this obviously include the facility to eat in, rates at Roomzzz include a Grab & Go breakfast of fruit, fruit juice, pastries, and tea/coffee, which you pick up in reception. Our Maxima Suite with its double bedroom and bunk-bed room was perfect in every way bar that my room, at the front, suffered quite a bit of noise from the street throughout the night – Leeds is a rowdy party town and if you stay centrally you do need to take this into account when booking. On the plus side, the in-room Apple iMac provided some diversion for the boys and some much-need chill-out time for me after all our gallivanting around.
Read more about family breaks in Yorkshire.