Whether you’re a first year or a third year, there’s bound to be some places left unexplored in the city. Here are some of Nottingham’s hidden gems…
People still haven’t truly discerned where Nottingham is exactly (does it count as ‘up north’?) let alone have a clue what there is to do here. Much to my surprise when I explored the city as a Notts fresher, it’s actually got a lot of things – and, more than that, a lot of hidden things.
Having lived in Nottingham for two years now, I’ve only scratched the surface of discovering the city’s secrets…there’s still caves to explore – literally.
Here are five of Nottingham’s hidden gems worth discovering for yourself:
The lost caves
Home to a string of cocktail bars and the bulk of my student loan, Hockley in Nottingham is enough reason to believe this city has one of the best bar scenes in the country. In line with Nottingham’s ‘more than meets the eye’ allure, many bars have the added appeal of secrecy, and can be disguised as a boiler room, hidden down alleyways, or just straight up hard to find (to this day I am still searching for certain bars on Google Maps).
One of the best secret bars is The Lost Caves: a bar hidden within a bar. This gin bar is only open on Friday and Saturday and can be found underneath the already-hidden bar The Lost Property down Hockley.
Your waiter and cave-guide will take you down the steps to a cave illuminated by multi-colour lights, decorated with chandeliers and filled with benches covered with throws in case you get cold (which is fair enough since you’re in an underground cave). Cocktails are reasonably priced, the selection of gins and tonics is extensive, and service is student-friendly.
Yamas Meze and Tapas
It always puzzles me why so many people choose to eat at chains when Nottingham’s city is filled with some incredible, unique restaurants. My current favourite is Yamas Meze and Tapas – a Mediterranean cuisine with a plentiful and well-priced menu.
Although it’s situated at the heart of the city centre, Yamas is nestled down a side-street and can easily be missed. This cosy restaurant always has a lively, cheerful atmosphere and serves some of the best tasting food I’ve had.
And despite being tapas, the meal portions are generous and filling even if you share them with others (don’t do it – you’ll want it for yourself). This restaurant will leave you feeling warm, satisfied, and considerably heavier than when you entered.
You can only imagine my despair when one of my best friends and designated MUA had travelled back home on the day I needed her most – the university’s Ball. Entrusted in her was the responsibility of making sure my eyebrows were presentable and ensuring my foundation matched my neck, but with her absence I stood no chance.
If, like me, you’re hopeless with makeup, or you’re just wanting someone else to do it for a change, Cabella is the perfect place to go. Hidden down the beautiful Bridlesmith Walk, this boutique’s interior is that of a dollhouse, with a pastel pink and white colour scheme and grand dressing tables.
The staff are bubbly and welcoming, and the experience of getting your makeup done feels like a mini fairy-tale. They do makeup for weddings, special occasions, and even specialise in SFX makeup which was ideal for my killer mermaid look on Halloween.
Yes, I’m a student and can’t afford designer clothes – but there’s no harm looking…and potentially buying as a Christmas gift to myself. Nottingham’s city centre is packed with luxury brands, including the likes of French Connection, Ted Baker and Vivienne Westwood. Gigi Bottega is a cute clothing outlet that sells designer clothes (think Pinko, Burberry, Stella McCartney) in a tucked-away Georgian building.
This contemporary fashion boutique is located down one of the prettiest streets of Nottingham, the Flying Horse Walk, and run by a mother-daughter duo who are lovely and helpful in finding what you’re after according to your budget.
Though it may not be a place you regularly visit, it’s definitely a store to browse as you walk down this street and a good place to treat yourself to a dress for graduation or similar events.
Okay, this is probably the least well-hidden on this list of well-hidden gems, but it’s a gem to discover nonetheless. Planet Bounce was advertised as a possible event to go to during Freshers Week, but in trying to embrace adulthood I dismissed it. A year later, I caved in – no regrets.
It’s essentially a large bouncy castle with various obstacle courses and slides / climbing walls. For an hour you are free to bounce all over the place at a student-discounted price of only £5. I came here after exams and it was a great place to just let off steam, although ten minutes in I was wounded with a stitch as my 19 year-old body reminded me I’m not 9.
There’s even a ball-pit. Enough said.
By Aisling Harrington – Brown