Should Nottingham Be On Your ‘English City Bucket List’?
Nottingham receives over 300,000 tourists every year but it lags way behind more popular destinations like York, Birmingham and Leeds. Every now and then it inches into the limelight like a shy 5-year-old in her first play – whether that be from a new Robin Hood movie or from an award of some sort. The thing is, Nottingham seems a bit unsure of itself in the eyes of a larger, scrutinizing audience : for years, the locals of Nottingham have known the cities worth and are proud to call themselves residents, but as far as promoting itself to the rest of the UK as a notable city to visit and well worthy of a day-tripping tourist, Nottingham doesn’t seem to push itself forward to the front of the stage and say
Look at me… I’m a great English city too you know!
Instead, it’s in the habit of downplaying its hooded super-hero for fear he wasn’t a real person and more a collection of tales, but come on guys – Florida did OK out of a big talking mouse, what’s a bit of poetic license if it brings people to our wonderful city?! And for some insane reason, when you land on English turf at East Midlands Airport, it’s Derby filling the billboards, and in turn the tourist’s minds. DERBY!! So I’m here to share a few good reasons why you should put a trip to Nottingham on your bucket list…
Five Reasons To Visit Nottingham
Nottingham has had a settlement since pre-Anglo Saxon (5th century) times but most of its notable history comes from medieval Britain and has often been a home to various Kings and Queens. The Royal Hunting Grounds in nearby countryside kept the menfolk entertained and the plush apartments in the then-Nottingham Castle kept the women in utmost comfort. And since so many Royal notables spent so much time here, it’s no wonder that there are plenty of famous stories and historical events connected to Nottingham.
Not a lot remains of medieval Nottingham these days, except the tales and legends, but the 1800’s made up for that and we still have plenty of beautiful buildings in and around the city. Areas like The Park, Hockley and The Lace Market totally showcase the best of Victorian Britain. One man in particular, Watson Fothergill, brought a flair to the architecture that no other English Victorian industrial city could boast of. If you love architecture you will love Nottingham. Check out the clothing stores Zara and All Saints, plus the Adam’s Building in the Lace Market for some gorgeous examples. Or, if you fancy a cheeky beverage, the hidden bar Hockley Arts Club on Carlton Street and Pitcher And Piano in an old church, are two of the best looking bars we have here in the city.
And then there’s our famous outlaw, the man himself, Robin Hood. Visit his statue, see his legacy woven into street and business names and even take a Historical Tour with Ezekial Bone – the man who know’s the most about Nottingham’s own Superhero and puts on a jolly good tour.
The Nottingham Food Scene
Long before The Naked Chef started inspiring us normal folk to expect more from our food, Nottingham was lucky to have some amazing staple-favourites in restaurants : places like Bistro Pierre, Mem Saab and Harts. But, a few years ago Nottingham raised its foodie game and more excellent venue’s started popping up all over the place! It was hard to see how all these newbies would be able to establish a clientelle with so much competition about, but after a little while of wide-eyed wonderment it was quite clear these innovative new places to eat weren’t going anywhere!
Add to that a generous smattering of lovely pubs and cocktail bars and you have yourself a city that comes alive at night and is deserving of your hard-earned cash for a good night out out.
Curry houses in Nottingham are winning awards left right and centre and two of our favourites are The Calcutta Club and Tamatanga. For a different kind of spice (with a side helping of Rum cocktails) head to the well known Caribbean chain Turtle Bay. Tier in Hockley does the best bar snacks with a view, Bar Iberico for the best tapas, Sexy Mama Love Cicchetti for unbeatable Italian and Son of Steak for, well, the perfect steak.
For Nottingham’s best burger and meat joints try my top 5 list.
Newcomer, Alex Bond, is also wowing diners at his own restaurant, Alchemilla, so if you’re looking for something a little bit special and are prepared to put your palettes in the hands of the experts you cannot help but be bowled over by flavours of things like garlic ice cream and cauliflower fungus. A real treat for the taste buds.
For an excellent central Nottingham hotel choice, choose Roomzzz : cool urban views from some of their rooms, all the expected perks of the Roomzzz hotel chain, cheap car parking on site and the complimentary grab and go breakfasts of hot drinks and pastries – all at a very reasonable price. For the best deals at Roomzzz click here.
Parks & Forests
Greenery might not always be on the top of your list of reasons to book a little holiday but Nottingham is definitely famous for its forest and in turn has some of the loveliest parks around. When I first moved to Nottingham it did not escape my notice just how lush this city was. Tree lined boulevards of established old Oak trees and several large parks to its name must surely make Nottingham one of the greenest cities in England? Only a 2 minute walk away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre and you can be feeding the ducks, or watching an old couple canoodling on a park bench in the Arboretum…
Sherwood Forest was once one of the country’s largest Royal Hunting Forests and is still a hive of activity today for cyclists, archers and Go-Apers. The nearby Clumber Park, ran by the National Trust, offers plenty of activities too.
But closer to home, only a ten minute bus ride from the city centre, is the wonderful Wollaton Park. Used as the location for Wayne Manor in Batman – The Dark Knight Rises, the stately home for the Willoughby family is now a public deer park and Natural History Museum, and completely free! Wollaton Park is one of Nottingham’s gems and really should not be missed if you are visiting the city, it’s a real beaut any time of year and is reason alone to make a trip to Nottingham.
Nottingham’s Art And Live Music Scene
Nottingham loves the Arts and is an advocater of them in any way it can be. The area of Hockley is a melting pot of creative businesses and music venues all wrapped up in its colourful muralled ramparts – street art is fast becoming a thing for this part of Nottingham. There are two major Art Galleries at The Contemporary and Nottingham Castle but also several other smaller ones too.
As for music, it’s everywhere! The National Ice Arena accommodates the big boys but the city has plenty of great smaller gig venues and loads of pubs and bars put on live music on a regular basis. Venues like Rock City, Rescue Rooms and The Bodega have been supporting famous and not so famous bands for years and Nottingham is more often than not the choice for bands over anywhere else in the East Midlands – no doubt a winner because Nottingham folk are a great crowd and clearly love their music!
If you find yourself in town and are in the mood for a bit of foot tapping or a good sing-song, places like Southbank City, The Bell, Tilt and Malt Cross are all good for local live music several nights a week.
Shopping In Nottingham
Nottingham is a shopping experience! At the moment a grand new shopping centre is being built to replace the almost redundant Broadmarsh Centre but relax – there is still plenty of shopping left to be done. At the other end of town is Intu Victoria and packed with plenty of big high street shops like Monsoon, Top Shop, John Lewis and the Disney Store but it is also home to some less known shops like Tiger, Sostrene Green, Kiko and Smiggle that other towns still just lust after.
Exiting Intu Victoria you will find yourself on the UK’s busiest shopping street outside of London (apparently). It can get pretty rammed as it’s a pedestrianized thoroughfare to the rest of Nottingham’s shopping areas, so watch your ankles on those pushchairs! Off to the left is an area called Hockley that is brimming with vintage shops and thrift stores like COW and Wild Clothing but is also smattered with a few independents too – Cobden Chambers off Pelham Street is always a joy to behold; you know the kind of place where you end up buying some vinyl even when you don’t own a record player just because the shop looked so lovely?
Most of Nottingham’s shopping areas are pedestrianized which takes away a certain amount of stress (although watch out for the electric trams on some roads – they can really sneak up on you) but I think what adds to the whole shopping experience in Nottingham is the architecture. Not only does the city centre have pretty much all of the big named stores, you’re entering some fabulous buildings! Zara is a classic example of this but as you make your way along Bridlesmith Gate it’s an aesthetically pleasing affair, and the experience doesn’t stop when you leave the street and enter the stores. Don’t miss Flying Horse Walk, Bridlesmith Walk and Exchange Arcade too – fairly unknown to non-locals but well worth a peek for something a bit different.
So there you have it – all the reasons to book that trip to Nottingham! The city would make a great base for some other nearby destinations too – the Peak District and Derbyshire Dales are only a 40 minute drive away and are home to some amazing stately homes like Chatsworth House and Hardwick Hall, but also miles and miles of breathtaking scenery and beautiful hikes. Alternatively if you’re planning a little road trip in the UK, the Cotswolds and York are only a 90 minute drive away too.
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