After a severe lack of city weekend breaks (mine and Jack’s exploring speciality) we decided to treat ourselves and head somewhere for bank holiday weekend. Only an hour away from me in Notts, Sheffield was our perfect candidate; and as the hometown of my all-time favourite band, Arctic Monkeys (proper fan girl alert), it was somewhere I have always been intrigued to visit. However, as we soon realised after arriving: Sheffield is a strange place… and although we had a great time in each others’ company I won’t try and pretend to you that it’s somewhere I plan to return to again. If you are visiting, though, I’ll share with you some of the highlights of our interesting trip below!
We stayed at the Hampton by Hilton, which was in a good location for us at just a short distance from the nightlife and parts of the city we wanted to check out. We lucked out with the lovely, spacious and sleek room we got; it wasn’t overly expensive and included a breakfast buffet with great choice (in all honesty I would have paid just for the incredible mirror – I’m still wishing I could have brought it home with me).
After checking in, we headed out to have a look around and assess the city’s assets. In Sheffield’s defence, it was bank holiday Sunday so not a lot was going on. We wandered aimlessly and got a bit lost – which admittedly is quite fun when you’re visiting somewhere new. The Peace Gardens are probably the nicest area we came across, offering a pretty and tranquil area to relax and enjoy the scenery (apart from the abundance of pigeons). After not being able to find much else to do, in true Lily and Jack style we headed to a nearby pub.
The Beer Engine is definitely our kind of place. Offering an array of unusual and exquisite cask ales and beers, with a quirky, rustic interior tucked away into a corner of the city (think bookshelf walls and vintage, monochrome framed photos). I had a iced tea infused pale ale, which is not something I usually would go for, but was a refreshing twist on my trusty lager.
For dinner we took a risk on El Paso, as we both love Mexican food, and stumbled across it on a back road. Initially when we entered it was empty, so inevitably we were curious, but the food turned out to be delicious and authentic with a great vegetarian selection and amazing happy hour cocktails! Jack went for a chicken enchilada, while I opted for the same but veggie style and we were both amazed at the quality of the food – if we were to go back to Sheffield it would be pretty much purely for this place.
As for hitting the town I wanted to start off by heading to The Grapes, the pub Arctic Monkey’s played their very first gig (I did warn you, ultimate fan girl). Entering The Grapes is like going back in time and intruding into someones living room – a homely place, dimly lit with carpeted rooms and old Guinness poster ads. There was a small section of the wall dedicated to AM, with a gold vinyl and pictures of the band.
We found West Street and made the rounds through a collection of bars, including West Street Live and Huttons. Our best decision, though, was to head to The Leadmill after recommendations, where the music was way up our street and we happily partied the rest of the night away (before rather un-glamorously scoffing cheesy chips and falling into a taxi back to the hotel). If you’re not so into chart music, like us, I urge you to go to here. In-keeping with Sheffield’s odd atmosphere, it was a crazy place, but the most fun we’ve had at a club probably ever. Slightly like waiting at a festival or a gig for a band to start, giant screens play old school music videos and without anything to really look at everyone kind of congregates awkwardly in the middle of the room. With a track line-up playing the likes of Oasis, The Stone Roses, The Smiths and (you guessed it) Arctic Monkeys, I had to wait about an hour before I could go to the ladies’ room because every song that came on would have caused serious fomo.
On Monday, nursing some sore heads, we decided to venture back into town for some fresh air and another look around, as everything was back open and we could get a proper insight to Sheffield! We had lunch at The Cabin, a seriously cosy cafe specialising in sweet and savoury waffles and pancakes! I had smoked salmon and cream cheese, which was an interesting mix, but definitely worth a try if you’re into discovering new concoctions. We also enjoyed a Raspberry Heaven smoothie each to attempt a refreshing detox from the night before!
After a final meander through the centre, it was time to say goodbye (probably forever) to the bizarre spectacle that is Sheffield. Everything once and all that!
Thanks for reading.