It will forever be synonymous with everyone's favourite outlaw. But with a vibrant student scene, Nottingham is also an essential place to catch the latest top bands and the freshest fashion styles
It's celebrated most for its colourful history, but Nottingham is a city very much focused on the future.
It will always offer the enduring appeal of Robin Hood - Sherwood Forest's legendary thief with a heart - but as the home of one of the UK's most vibrant student populations, Nottingham is also one the country’s trendiest destinations for twenty-somethings. Vintage shops, art galleries, music venues and fashionable eateries await around every cobbled-street corner.
It's best to book a hotel in the centre. Parking is poor (particularly in the emerging arty area of Hockley) and the city is a pretty place to explore on foot.
If you time your visit to coincide the annual Dot to Dot Festival you can spend your Sunday strolling around Nottingham’s top music venues and listening to the latest bands for just £25. Rock City, on Talbot Street, holds stadium-sized crowds and is the main venue for the festival. See www.rock-city.co.uk.
At the opposite end of the venue scale is The Rescue Rooms, just around the corner in Masonic Place. This stylish music cavern has an outside patio with umbrellas (and occasional barbeques) which makes it an ideal place to sit and chat with your mates before a gig. The bar is decorated with artistic fabrics and the stage area hosts some of Nottingham’s top bands. See www.rescuerooms.com.
The Bodega Social Club on Pelham Street is even smaller than The Rescue Rooms. There is a pub downstairs and a tiny gig room above it. It also offers a pretty courtyard for summer evenings and late-night DJs who are seriously skilled at getting you dancing. See www.thebodegasocialclub.co.uk
There are some excellent options for pre-gig dining. For an evening meal look no further than Bar de Nada. Found on super-cool Broad Street near the historic Lace Market, this restaurant is a favourite among locals and tourists alike. With wine, tapas and music you'll be fooled into thinking you’re in Spain. See www.bardenada.co.uk for a menu. Bar de Nada is also the perfect place to end a day’s shopping as the surrounding area is bursting with trendy boutiques.
After your meal pop down the road to catch a late-night indie film at the Broadway Cinema. Showing an array of films, from blockbusters to independent flicks, it also offers joint food and film tickets and also hosts themed film days. Plus, it’s really cheap! See www.broadway.org.uk.
On a warm day I’d recommend a picnic in Nottingham’s grassy arboretum. If you fancy going upmarket with your alfresco dining buy your supplies at Deliah’s on Middle Pavement. This quaint deli has loads of fine wines and more than 200 cheeses, 50 meats and thousands of tasty treats (I recommend the spicy pear chutney for your cheese). This is the perfect place to fill up your picnic hamper. See www.delilahfinefoods.co.uk.
There are lots of vintage shops and boutiques, so go window browsing and make a day of it. To start your retro clothing expedition begin at Wild. Also on Broad Street, this Aladdin’s cave of throwback styles is full of bargains and stocks lots of eye-catching shirts and skirts imported from Texas.
Alternatively, if you’re prepared to sift through piles of clothes (and I mean piles!) to find the gem you’ve been searching for, visit The Vintage Warehouse on Lower Parliament Street. So keep your eyes open. There are lots of boutiques to enjoy.