A Place To Escape In A Busy City (The Hidden Gem That Is "St Martin's Square" - and "The Lanes")
Let me take you on a magical journey to a place where you can hide from the world.
If you read my "taster" blog post (or you follow me on Twitter) you will know that I wanted to introduce you to my favourite part of Leicester City Centre - St Martin's Square.
Ironically - one of the reasons I love it so much is because hardly anyone knows about it (so it isn't cluttered with people like the nearby Gallowtree Gate). The other reason is why I am writing this blog post about it - it has got some great little independent shops in it which I have not seen anywhere else.
St Martin's Square has got two "main" entrances. You will find out why I put main in inverted commas in a minute.
The most visible entrance is from Hotel Street (nearest bus stop is Town Hall Square).
The top of the Entrance to St Martin's Square (from the direction of Town Hall Square/Pocklingtons Walk)
Entrance as seen from Ground Level
The entrance from Silver Street is what you might call "slightly hidden" - I would call it almost invisible - unless you are trying to avoid stepping in any puddles (the most obvious clue is on the floor).
The writing is literally on the floor (you might just be able to make out the writing on the pillars as well).
The Square itself is nice during sunny weather as it has seats.
Anyone want a picnic??? There are picnic tables in St Martin's Square as well as the outdoor seating from the cafes.
There are three shops in the Square itself I want to give a mention to (and one which is technically not in the Square but is only a short walk away).
The first shop is St Martin's Coffeeshop. If you are in Leicester City Centre and you want me this is where you will usually find me drinking a black Americano.
St Martin's Coffeeshop reminds me of just about every Dutch cafe and restaurant I have ever been in (OK so the furniture and the crockery in a Dutch cafe would match but the atmosphere is the same). Another reminder will make itself known when you look at the photos.
In fact, to be perfectly honest - whenever I walk into St Martin's Coffeeshop I feel like I have walked into someone's home. The staff are caring and friendly too.
Entrance with Terrace type seating
I could almost imagine I am in Holland - Coffee and Cycles (Cycle shop is on the right out of shot).
However, what I love most about it (apart from the mishmash of furniture and crockery) are the lighting and the space between the tables.
The string lights would probably show up better if it had been dark.
Space enough for me to navigate my way around even whilst carrying a tray!!!
They have two "menus" - a Breakfast one until 12.00pm and then a Lunch one from 12.00pm until 3.00pm. The prices are pretty reasonable. The food is provided by Crafty Burgers - who also do a kind of Takeover from 6.00pm from Thursday through to Saturday.
It even has free WIFI (even if someone with my eyesight has to almost get on their hands and knees to read the code and password you need to access it).
The only snag I can see is - unless you like cakes and Brownies - you would be better off going to Gelato Village (across the Square near the Hotel Street entrance to the Square) which do some lovely sorbets. (Gelato Village is the second shop.)
Once you have eaten and drunk to your heart's content I would suggest you head for the Silver Street Entrance to the Square because you will find my second favourite shop on your way out.
"Watch This Space" sounds like an instruction more than the name of a shop - I know - but when you walk in you will find a treasure trove of handmade clothes, jewellery, and craft items. They even do workshops where you can learn how to make some of the items yourself.
Front window of "Watch This Space"
Turn right onto Silver Street - go past the "FairTrade" shop - and you will find what can only be described as a Chocoholic's idea of Heaven.
Cocoa Amore is an artisan chocolate shop - with an old fashioned charm (the presentation of the chocolates in the boxes is really special (even to the point of tying them with proper ribbon).
Open Tuesday to Saturday it is a shop which is well worth a visit - especially since it moved out of its previous cramped premses on the top floor of the Silver Arcade.
Front window of a Chocoholic's dream.
Of course, there are other shops, etc in and around St Martin's Square - this is only a small selection. There are also events and happenings which take place on the square itself - usually on a Saturday during the warmer weather.
I hope I have inspired you to take a trip around St Martin's Square and the area known as "The Lanes". .