This time last week I was riding a train down to Manchester from my home in Cumbria to meet up with my boyfriend, Cole, before setting off on our weekend in Ilkley, West Yorkshire.
Ilkley isn’t far from Manchester at all, but it still seems like a weird place to chose for a ‘staycation’ as it were. Of course, once you know there’s a pretty dope cinema involved it isn’t that weird (hello, hi, have you met me? I like film). But Ilkley still isn’t exactly a well-documented place.
Turns out, Ilkley is lovely little town to visit for a weekend. We spent a rainy February weekend in Ilkley but I imagine in summer when you can do a spot of walking on the Moors it’s an even bigger treat.
Have a read at what we got up to on our weekend in Ilkley, Yorkshire…
My Weekend in Ilkley
Our Airbnb – The Sleepy Squirrel Pod
We arrived into Ilkley around 7pm on Friday night. Instead of a hotel or Bed & Breakfast, we went for this very intriguing Cabin/Pod called ‘The Sleepy Squirrel Pod’ on Airbnb which was situated in the host’s back garden.
It had a full on bathroom, kitchenette and heating so I’m exaggerating a bit when I say it was ‘glamping’ but it was so cosy. Even for a rainy and windy February weekend! Have a look for yourself:
I’m definitely more of a budget traveller so I’ll always head for hostels if I’m travelling by myself, but it’s so nice having a bit more comfort. We were even treated to a well-stocked kitchen with essentials like tea bags, fresh milk and biscuits which was just so lovely.
If you’re ever in Ilkley, I really recommend checking out the Pod! Okay, this is sounding like my Airbnb review now – I’ll move on!
The Cafes – Daniel’s Cafe Bistro & The Veggie
We could have had breakfast in our Airbnb, but since we were only spending a weekend in Ilkley I wanted to check out the local cafes and restaurants.
For breakfast, we headed to Daniel’s Cafe Bistro which started the day off nicely. It’s just a really well-decorated, cosy independent cafe with really friendly staff and I highly recommend breakfasting there. Yes, I’m using breakfasting as a verb.
And for lunch, we stopped by The Veggie. Again, just another really nice cafe specialising in vegan and vegetarian food. I’ll try and stop using the word ‘nice’ but I’m not promising ANYTHING.
There was also a little cafe/restaurant called Toast House which looked popular (it was always full) on the same street as Daniel’s Cafe Bistro and The Veggie. However, it lost out because I couldn’t look up a menu online so obvs I was gonna hit up the places where I knew I would like the food.
I’m a picky vegetarian and an online menu is a MUST.
Also – I noticed that even though Ilkley is more of a ‘middle class’ town (I’m talking a Booths and a Betty’s Tea Room and it doesn’t get more swish in Northern England than that) it’s not crazy expensive. For both breakfast and lunch, we paid less than £20 altogether for each restaurant without even really trying to keep costs down.
Country walks – but unfortunately not the Moors
There isn’t a whole hec of a lot to do in Ilkley during the day. Sure, there’s decent high street shops and a generally pleasant town centre but that’s it. Ideally, you’d have good weather – or since you’re in Yorkshire, be prepared to brave the weather – so you can spend the morning or afternoon walking on the Moors.
Ilkley is riiiight next to the Yorkshire Dales National Park so there’s supposed to be some really nice walks nearby. Of course, it was really windy so we just stuck to walking along the River Wharfe. We found a pretty cool bridge, though.
Ilkley Cinema AKA the whole reason we’re here
Later in the day, after kicking a chill back in our pod for a bit, (what’s the point in paying for nice accommodation if you aren’t gonna spend any time there?) we made our way to Ilkley Cinema.
It is an independent cinema and it’s either been really well maintained or recently decorated. It has a bar area with tonnes of cool film posters and some quirky timepieces. But all of that doesn’t match up to the main draw of the cinema – drum roll, please…
Would you just look at those sofas?!
Isn’t the cinema bloody beautiful? Such a cool, quirky idea and definitely a good way to get more bums on seats. You can see the little tables with wine holders, too which is a nice touch. And they don’t show any adverts either! Just two short films, a couple of trailers and then you’re straight into the film.
We watched Downsizing, which isn’t the best film out now, but let’s face it: we went more for the experience than anything else.
I can’t remember how I found out about the wonder that is Ilkley cinema. My mum will probably say she found it first, and I will say it was me that discovered it… but I’m very glad I have watched a film there. It’s something ticked off my personal Bucket List, that’s for sure.
The not so glamorous – Costa Coffee and Pizza Express
I’d hate to paint my weekend as something that it wasn’t. After our walk along River Wharfe, we needed to kill some more time before we were hungry enough for lunch.
So we wandered around the city centre and spent an hour and a half in Costa. It’s the only place we could go to sit and not feel bad about the space we were taking up. You can’t really do that in an Independent coffee shop.
We also had tea/dinner in Pizza Express. I know, we’re such hip and happening people! We used Tesco Vouchers and I’m not sorry at all.
The next day was Sunday so we pretty much just cleaned up our Airbnb and caught the train back home, all refreshed to start a new week.
I would 100% recommend Ilkley as a little weekend getaway if you’re in the Manchester/Yorkshire area and like cute little cafes and walking in the countryside. The ideal times to go would probably be spring or autumn when the kids are still in school but the weather is substantially warmer.
And that was my weekend in Ilkley! Have you ever visited or heard of Ilkley? Would you like to visit? Let me know in the comments below!