It’s a city that’s not too big and not too small. In the heart of the country it has great links to the rest of the UK, and is renowned for student living. There’s a reason as to why almost 50,000 students choose to call this place their home for three years.
Things to do
I never properly appreciated this until my final year in Nottingham, but it’s an incredibly interesting, historical city – and I’m not just talking about Robin Hood.
- Underneath Nottingham city centre are over 500 caves dating back to the Dark Ages, which have been used as homes, pub cellars, and even bomb shelters over the centuries.
- The Nottingham Castle is right in the centre and gives you spectacular panoramic views of the city. The caves below the building are also open to the public, and tours take place throughout the day.
- The Galleries of Justice takes you through a history of crime and punishment in the city. Based in the old courthouse and gaol, the building has been voted most haunted in britian. Try a Ghost Tour with your friends one evening (they also have a bar on these nights!).
- When it comes to shopping, Nottingham is spoilt for choice. The Victoria Centre and Broadmarsh are two large shopping malls in the middle of the city and just a 10 minute walk away from each other. If you go exploring down the streets around these two shopping centres, you’ll find endless independent shops, as well as those in the Creative Quarter.
- The Cornerhouse is a great leisure complex, where you can play crazy golf, see a film, have a meal, see some comedy or even hit the bar. Full of everything you’ll need for a fun-packed evening, this isn’t a place to forget about!
- If you fancy getting out and about then you should go to Wollaton Hall, which houses the Nottingham Natural History museum and is surrounded by parkland – perfect for walks or having an afternoon picnic when the weather picks up.
- And, let’s be honest, anyone who’s planning to spend any length of time in Nottingham is duty-bound to pay a visit to the world-famous Sherwood Forest, where you can take a fab guided tour based around Robin Hood and his band of outlaws.
Arts & Culture
- For something a bit more modern but equally fascinating, then spend a few hours at Nottingham Contemporary Art Gallery, which is renowned for its inventive exhibitions and cutting-edge curation; this is also one of the few places in the city where you can take in a host of rare, art-house films from around the world.
- Inside Nottingham Castle there’s a great little art gallery with various exhibitions that are put on throughout the year.
- The University of Nottingham owns the Lakeside Art Gallery, and has an exciting programme of exhibitions, music, drama and dance as well as Djanogly Art Gallery right next door.
- If you’re looking for a great stage play to watch, then Nottingham Theatre Royal and Nottingham Playhouse have everything from West-End musicals to Shakespeare classics.
- The Glee is the city’s comedy club which sees the likes of Hal Cruttenden, James Acaster and Seann Walsh.
Music & Nightlife
There’s always something on offer in Nottingham.
- Monday nights are unexpectedly brilliant thanks to ‘Liquorice’ at Coco Tang, a half-hidden, decadent underground club that models itself on the back street bars of LA and New York. Look out for the red light above the entrance on Bridlesmith Gate, and give their ‘Cut to the Chase’ cocktail a go (seriously, it’s good).
- Meanwhile, on Wednesdays, the place for students to be is ‘CRISIS’ at Rock City, where you can get Jagerbombs, and loads of other drinks, for £1.50 – just maybe don’t go there in your favourite shoes (sticky floors alert).
- For other great nights as the weekend approaches, check out the £2 drinks offer on Thursdays at Baa Bar, and indulge your guilty music pleasures on Friday at ‘The Pop Confessional’ at The Bodega (discount for students before midnight, and for anyone in fancy dress!).
- My favourite night on Saturdays is ‘Hey Hey Hey’, back at Rock City again – write your name on their weekly Facebook event wall for free entry before 11pm. Alternatively, if your student loan has just landed, then you could head over to Saltwater at the CornerHouse, which has delicious cocktails and a heated terrace overlooking the city.
- Not many people ever find out about Tilt Bar, and more fool them. This little bar is hidden above one of the many independent shops on Pelham Street, and has a quirky atmosphere paired with an equally quirky (but brilliant) cocktail menu – ‘Napoleon’s Nuts’, anyone? Don’t worry, though, their bar staff are talented enough to make whatever you want; they do a particularly good dry gin Martini, my favourite.
Best Places To Eat
For those who like to balance out their night-time exploits with a nice, civilized cup of tea and a slice of cake, then Nottingham is very much the place to be.
- The White Rabbit is a teahouse located in a quiet little arcade in the city centre, and has a unique, Alice-in-Wonderland theme. Book afternoon tea with a few friends if you’re looking for a relaxing few hours away from your books.
- Probably my favourite place, though, is the Divine Coffee House on Haydn Road – try one of their incredible homemade cakes (and it’s vegan to boot).
- For dining out, Nottingham has really upped its game in recent years. Junkyard is a bit secluded on Bridlesmith Walk, but offers a range of tasty, exotic small plates, which you can pair with a craft ale on draft (there are 15 beers on tap in total).
- If you’re after something a bit more traditional but still in budget, then check out Malt Cross. A Victorian music hall that’s been converted in recent years, you can find pub classics for under £10, plus a wide range of drinks at cheaper-than-average prices.
Top 5 Discounts in Nottingham
- Steak Night Tuesdays at Saltwater in the Cornerhouse gets you a steak and all the trimmings for £10
- The Rescue Rooms’ Bar has happy hour every day 4-7pm
- Tickets are just £5 for students on a Friday night at Glee Club
- Get student discount at Annie’s Burger Shack, Monday – Friday, 12pm – 5pm
- Save £2 on entry to Nottingham Castle with your student card