A Night Out In Nottingham
Recently my sister and her other half came to cat-sit for us whilst we tootled off to Copenhagen. They’d be here for the weekend and wanted to sample Nottingham night-life. So, channelling my inner Rain Man I got down to writing a list of places to see in the area and took on the challenge of recommending the best bars in Nottingham.
I was gutted we couldn’t show them around ourselves – we love a good Friday night out in Nottingham. But, I’d produced a map so they’d be fine.
They were. They loved the bars, my map went down a storm and a great night out was had by all. I couldn’t bring myself to destroy the list afterwards and figured more people could benefit from our recommendations. So here you have it – the best bars in Nottingham according to us….
Nottingham’s Best Bars and Pubs
- 1. Malt Cross. A pub which nearly had to throw in the towel last year but the local groans were so great they somehow managed to recover from hard times. And what a relief because there is a warm heritage to this place. My dad used to drink at this pub in the ’60s and the former dance hall has a lovely relaxed and unpretentious atmosphere. Live music Fridays and Saturdays and great seats on the mezzanine balcony. St James’s Street.
- 2. Cucamara. Whilst the night is yet young, make a quick stop off to an old Nottingham favourite amongst students. There’s only one reason to go and that’s for the cheap tequila slammers. It’s an institution to locals and many a good night out grew its legs here upon the sticky floors. Neck a few shots, forget you ever entered and be on your way. Nothing to see here but great for cheap drinks! Hurt’s Yard.
- 3. The Hockley Arts Club. This Nottingham hidden bar was once the manager’s offices of the lace and silk factories which propelled the city into fame and fortune. Never has a potted plant looked more glamourous! Grab an armchair, embrace your inner CEO and wait to be served (table service only) at this insta-worthy 3 storey bar. But beware – it has unisex toilets so if like me you don’t like sharing your pee-space with the opposite sex, hang on for the next round someplace else! 20 Carlton Street, Hockley.
- 4. Tier. Tier became a favourite of ours when they lured us in with their tasty bar snacks. But, this small Nottingham bar has such a lively and friendly atmosphere I’d come here even if I wasn’t peckish. After work on a Friday night in Nottingham, this is the place to be and the chat is loud and happy. The ultimate seat is one at the upstairs window with views onto Pelham Street below – no one seems to notice you watching so you’re in for the quirkiest of people-watching sessions. Pelham Street.
- 5. Penny Lane. One of Nottingham’s newest bars, it’s seaside arcade meets speakeasy. If you took away the booze it’d be full of little nippers playing air-hockey and basketball hoops, but given that it’s a bar us adults get to have all the fun instead! You pay to play and could spend a pretty fortune on the Donkey Derby or table football but it is the best bar to socialise in with friends, for definite. Since when was alcohol mixed with some healthy competitiveness ever a bad idea, eh? Fletcher Gate.
- 6. Coco Tang Cocktail Bar. It’s been one of the best clubs in Nottingham for years but a couple of moons ago the place got a revamp : Orientally inspired, Coco Tang became the most beautiful place to drink cocktails in town. My favourite spot is the Vietnamese roof garden, all mellow and easy with a nod to the tropics. But, if you fancy smooth sophistication and perfected cocktails, head downstairs to join the expert drinkers who know their Mimosa’s from their Martini’s. It’s an after-hours kinda place and once you’ve walked through the door you won’t even feel like you’re in Nottingham anymore – Saigon here we come! 45 Bridlesmith Gate.
- 7. Cock And Hoop. A great little pub with a cosy basement section which is always a good choice for a quiet drink. It’s attached to the Lace Market Hotel which incidentally is a great choice of accommodation if you’re in town for a few days. We like to come here for the last drink of the night – a whisky nightcap – but being the traditional pub it is you can guarantee some good ales here too. 25 High Pavement.
- 8. Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem. No trip to Nottingham is complete without a visit to Englands oldest inn (1189AD). It may be a bit of a tourist attraction but just the fact that most of it is built into the rock foundations of Nottingham Castle makes this a pretty cool pub to visit. Sit in the caves, don’t sit on the chair that gets you pregnant, have a game of ringing the bull, and take a peek at the supposedly haunted pirate’s ship – all in a good night out at The Trip! 1 Brewhouse Yard.
- 9. Pitcher And Piano. I know, I know – it’s a chain. But, have you ever noticed how the Pitcher and Piano pubs are often in really unique locations? Well, Nottingham’s version is no different – a grade II listed church with several huge and beautiful stained glass windows sets the backdrop for your drink at this particular public house. It really is worth a pint just to see inside! High Pavement
- 10. Junkyard. It’s craft ales all round at this friendly unpretentious joint. Chink glasses with any nearby jovial punter – usually 3-parts beard to 1-part facial features. It’s a great bar for sharing plates and bar-snacks too, basically the kinda place you could hole-up in for several hours once you’ve got yourself comfy. 12 Bridlesmith Walk.
- 11. Peggy’s Skylight. A Nottingham Jazz Bar with live music and events several nights a week. If I’m honest, Jazz ain’t my thing, but whether its the funky layout of cinema seats and old fashioned stage or the amazing middle eastern food menu – something draws me in at Peggy’s Skylight. For whatever reason I find myself tolerating the music for this otherwise very unique bar. 3 George Street.
- 12. Das Kino. Ping-pong and dancing, or ping-pong whilst dancing, is the lively scene at Das Kino. Certifiably cool and the first port of call on Friday’s from the office – starting the weekend off right. Neon lights and powerful tunes make you feel like its late and it’s one of the best bars to get you in the mood for the rest of the evening – a party bar for those in the know. 22 FletcherGate.
- 13. The Alchemist. Theatrical cocktails in umpteen disguises, The Alchemist makes you feel alright about spending a tenner on a fancy drink. But just waiting your turn at the bar gives you value for money as their mixologists entertain you with lab-like performances. Maybe the amazing gothic architecture of one of Nottingham’s finest buildings helps to add to the moment too – whatever, I like it in here! King Street.
So there you have it – the top bars in Nottingham that are lucky enough to make our favourites list. There were one or two more which almost made it but let’s face it – after round 13 you’re really not going to know which city you’re in let alone which bar! Chin chin.