Leicester - a Midlands SojournLeicester – a Midlands Sojourn

by Gary Dickson

With our continued buildup to the Rugby World Cup in 2015 I recently visited the city of Leicester, which will host three games in the pool rounds in October 2015. The games will involve Argentina, Tonga, Canada, Romania and an African qualifier.

Probably fair to say that Leicester might not be on everyone’s bucket list but as I found out recently this is a fantastic city and one I thoroughly enjoyed spending a few days in. Here are a few things to keep you amused when you visit.

1. Visit Bosworth Field

Two Kings…One Day. August 22nd 1485. Even if you’re not a history nut like myself, the mystique around this battlefield has been magnified in recent times by the discovery of the remains of the last British monarch to be killed in battle…King Richard III.

The battle climaxed the War of the Roses and the exhibition tells the story of the events that led up to the battle, what happened on that momentous day and how it changed the course of British history.

You can watch a re-enactment of the battle, take a guided walk around the battlefield, have lunch at the on-site café and bar and soak up the village life of people in the late 15th century with themed characters roaming the grounds.

I am happy to report that since my visit the remains of Richard III have been decreed (by court) to rest in Leicester, and not the town of York. (And if you’re not a history buff… it was the army of Henry Tudor (who would become Henry VII) that defeated Richard’s forces)

Entry fee is £7.95 (adults), £4.75 (child), with a Family concessions from £17.50. Open daily from 10am till 5pm

Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre

P: + 1 455 290 429 E: Bosworth@leics.gov.uk

W: ➜ www.bosworthbattlefield.com

2. National Space Centre

The National Space Centre is one of the United Kingdom’s leading visitor attractions and is devoted to space science and astronomy.

Not the sort of attraction you’d expect to find in the British Midlands…more acceptable in Florida or Kazakhstan I guess, but it really is a great facility with lots of interactive stuff for the kids (and big kids) to play with and enjoy.

You can explore the Sir Patrick Moore Planetarium, ride the elevator to the top of the Rocket Towers, see an actual piece of Moon rock and feel what’s it’s like to be an astronaut (or a cosmonaut if that’s your fancy).

Explore our universe and the neighbouring planets in an exhibition that can take you as long as you want or have to spare.

Exploration Drive

P: + 44 845 605 2001 E: info@spacecentre.co.uk

W: ➜ www.spacecentre.co.uk

3. Dine out on Indian food

It is a very safe statement for me to make that I love a good curry. Up until my trip to Leicester the winner of THE best I’d ever had went to a tiny Bangladeshi place in Brick Lane, London.

Dining out options in Leicester are varied, and the population of the city is reflected in its many eateries. The ambiance, food and service at Kayal is sublime and now holds the BEST curry tag in my book. Open for lunch and dinner and a slow five minutes walk from my hotel – see Belmont Hotel below.

Kayal means backwaters in Kerala. The whole school of South Indian seafood cuisine takes its name from Kerala Backwaters. Kerala has a distinctive cuisine, very unusual and different from the rest of India, so Kayal. Kerala cuisine offers several gastronomic opportunities to those willing to experiment with the cuisine. So, if you are around, don’t miss out on the opportunity to savour the cuisine of Kerala at Kayal.

Kayal Restaurant

153 Granby Street. P: + 44 116 255 4667

W: ➜ www.kayalrestaurant.com

4. King Power Stadium

Home to the Leicester City Football Club (The Foxes) and host to the aforementioned Rugby World Cup games in 2015 the ground is ideally located in the centre of town.

Like many British grounds this is a fantastic facility and they will do a superb job hosting in 2015.

I was lucky enough to be in Leicester the day that their football (soccer) team won promotion to the Premiership for 2014-15, so you can expect the buzz in the city to be thumping when RWC

5. Learn how to make cocktails

Hotel Maiyango is so much more than a hotel. Independently owned and operated, Hotel Maiyango is a quirky, original luxury boutique hotel, restaurant, cocktail bar and kitchen deli aiming to deliver memorable experiences.

Their ethos is encapsulated in the ‘Maiyango Loves Local’ commitment, which runs through all that they do. They support local suppliers and producers, the local community and take responsibility in developing local talent and preserving the environment.

Their cocktail classes are designed to be informative, creative and most of all fun. Classes can be booked 7 days a week and start from 3pm and last approximately one and a half hours.

Hotel Maiyango itself is a contemporary 14 bedroom boutique hotel and award winning restaurant. It is ideally located in the heart of historical Leicester, a 2 minute stroll from the King Richard III Burial Site and the forthcoming visitor attraction.

Hotel Maiyango is the perfect place to eat, stay and play when visiting Leicester. Their hardworking and passionate team is committed to delivering exceptional service, warm hospitality and above all creating memorable experiences.

Maiyango Hotel & Restaurant

13 – 21 St Nicholas Place. P: + 44 116 251 8898

E: reservations@maiyango.com

W: ➜ www.maiyango.com

6. Stay at The Belmont Hotel

Staying central in any city whilst following the RWC around is a must. You’ll get to envelope yourself in the atmosphere that only centrally located properties can give.

The Belmont is only a five minute walk to the main dining district in Leicester. It is also the highest AA rated 3* hotel in Leicester. With dining options in the hotel and a couple of great bars this is the place to stay.

A unique, relaxing, family run hotel their team will welcome you with open arms and advise you on any activities you wish to book or enjoy while you are in Leicester.

The hotel was built in the 1860s and therefore has some “quirks”. Don’t worry if you hear a floorboard creaking at night – it’s not a ghost…just some happy guest returning to his/her lodgings. It all adds to the ambiance I can assure you of that.

The Belmont Hotel

20 De Montfort Square. P: + 44 116 254 4773

W: ➜ www.belmonthotel.co.uk