Indie England

Independent businesses are enjoying a resurgence. With many town centres falling prey to an influx of chain stores, enterprising creatives are bringing a dose of verve and excitement to cities across the country. There are many creative hubs forming across the UK - perfect for visitors looking for a long weekend retreat.

So where are these menageries of imagination? What sort of off-the-cuff businesses can visitors find in these independent hotspots?


A truly dynamic city that's practically bursting with great retailers, bars and shops, Manchester is truly the capital of the north, offering similarly delightful accommodation such as The Midland to guests.

The city's Northern Quarter is home to a huge number of independent treasures. If you're looking for a quick drink, you can't go amiss with trendy hangouts Common and Soup Kitchen, while there's one-of-a-kind shopping opportunities to be found at Fred Aldous, Oi Polloi and the popular Manchester Craft and Design Centre.


Just a stone's throw from Manchester, Leeds is currently experiencing something of a cultural renaissance, with all sorts of happening bars, clubs, boutiques and eateries popping up along the city's grand Victorian terraces.

Staying at QHotels' countryside retreat, Oulton Hall, or in the beating heart of the city centre at The Queens, visitors enjoying a daytime excursion should head for a spot of shopping at the Corn Exchange, followed by some bargain hunting at the city's many vintage clothing stores. For tasty treats, head to the vibrant Trinity Kitchen for a variety of culinary delights, or enjoy a taste of Asian street food at the much-lauded Bundobust.

All tastes are catered for in this city, from the crisp Japanese food served up at Little Tokyo, all the way to the fine platters whipped up by Friends of Ham, while lovers of ale will be satisfied by the offerings of Whitelock's, Belgrave Music Hall and North Bar.


A truly beautiful city, Oxford is known for its academic zeal, but the city hosts a great variety of indie treats too. Enjoying a night at The Oxford Belfry, an exquisite QHotels location near to the city, those with an eye for all things indie should first head to The Missing Bean for a cup of fine coffee, before strutting down the grandiose streets to Truck Store - home to a truly extensive record collection.

Come nightfall, the quirky Big Society bar stocks a wide selection of beers and ciders, great for a tipple after catching a show at the century-old Phoenix Picturehouse. Bringing the evening to a close, make sure to head to the Jericho Tavern, once a favourite of CS Lewis and JRR Tolkein.


Having shed its post-industrial past, Sheffield is today a thriving university city, offering all kinds of creative haunts and experiences. Guests of the city can stay at Tankersley Manor, a place perfectly situated for heading into Sheffield for days of shopping, tasting and sipping!

Sheffield has it all, and then some. The exceptional Strip the Willow café - known for its many pieces of hand-built furniture and locally-produced wares - and the forward-thinking vegetarian and vegan restaurant and massage parlour Woodland Holistics provide great dining and relaxing treatments, and the thriving vintage clothes shops that dot the city mean a bargain is never too far away. If you love music, the city's Tramlines Festival hosts great acts year in, year out too.


For those that crave experiences that can't be replicated anywhere else, the above cities are the best places in the UK to enjoy some time away from home. Do you know of any other great independent cities or secret gems? Let us know your favourites!

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