Carpe Diem is the original rock bar in Leeds, occupying a prime location in the basement of the old school board building, bang in the middle of the Civic Quarter.
Carpe’s proximity to the rest of the quarter’s glitz doesn’t mean it’s hipsterized itself. The soul of a rock bar is still here, with loads of space, great music, shabby décor, dirty food and low prices. It’s about as unpretentious as a bar can get. I love pretension these days but I felt instantly at home in Carpe Diem which reminded me of being a spotty teenager when I first discovered booze and hormones. Indeed, the crowd here is quite young. There are student discounts and when it’s busy you will find the 25+ crowd is a minority in here, although there’s nothing really to turn us away.
The beer selection isn’t spectacular: there are two casks (Leeds Pale and Saltaire Pride) and Pistonhead in the fridge but little else of any interest. The prices can’t be beaten, though — on Sunday & Monday cask ale is a minuscule £2 a pint! There are also plenty of spirits and cocktails to choose from, including some dubious alcoholic milkshakes.
The list of amenities at Carpe is unbelievable: there are club nights and live music, a quiz, live sports, two pool tables, a cash machine and various games including a pub arcade game and pinball. The only thing that kept it from a 5-star rating was the lack of somewhere to sit outside.
This place is definitely not for everyone, but if you’re not everyone and you feel left out elsewhere, Carpe Diem might just be the place for you.