Leeds: So, Leeds wasn't that bad after all. It's a city with style, and culture, and clubs, and life. It's a city with all the clothes shops you could ever want, from department stores to designer boutiques. OK, maybe David Beckham's blond mohican is still in fashion up there, but at least the streets are full of trendy young things and not tweedy green countrysiders. Leeds may well deserve its reputation as the great nightlife capital of the North, but I'm afraid it didn't feel like a 24-hour city. Just like everywhere else outside London, the city centre is pretty much a ghost town by 6pm on weekdays. I attempted to buy a Mars bar in the centre of town at half past six and it took me at least 40 minutes to find a shop selling one. Given that this was the highlight of my evening, I must say Leeds still has some considerable way to go before it could ever attract me away from the capital permanently.
Hotels: I don't get to stay in hotels very often, so a couple of nights in corporate luxury might sound very appealing. However, I'd forgotten that hotels still can't measure up to a night sleeping in your own home. The sheets on the bed are tucked in so tight that you can't pull them up, so the top half of your torso freezes overnight in the air-conditioning. There are no instructions next to the shower, so by the time you've worked out the how the temperature control works you've scalded half your body and frozen the rest. The fully mirrored bathroom is so well lit that you're forced to confront what your body really looks like at 7 in the morning. If you can be bothered to wait ten minutes for your mini kettle to boil, the ensuing cup of tea tastes so awful that it's tempting to open the mini bar and pay £5 for a bottle of tonic water instead. For your viewing pleasure the TV always has the same dull mix of news, business and sports satellite channels, along with a dodgy selection of pay-per-view heterosexual erotica, and an extremely worrying programme called 'Look North' featuring men with whippets and women with strange accents. The full cooked breakfast that looked so appealing on the first morning just looks like stodge on the second, and you end up spending an inordinate amount of time skilfully opening small jars of raspberry preserve for the feeble women dining at the neighboring tables. I suspect that hotels are far more enjoyable if you're not travelling alone. The wall-to-wall mirrors, the clean bedsheets replaced daily and the fully tiled bathroom would be a lot more fun shared with someone else, but alas I was unable to convince the rather good looking deputy night manager that this was the case.