Old Market Square
The biggest of its kind in the country, the Old Market Square and its surrounding area is home to amazing fountains, the striking Nottingham Council House and no small smattering of pubs and bars. Throughout the year it hosts concerts, fairs and exhibitions of all types, and it’s an ideal spot for you and your group to kick off your celebratory weekend.
The large lettering and sign of the Bell Inn make it hard to miss on a wander past, and that’s a good job too as the Grade-II listed public house offers a great selection of draught beers and sandstone cellars dating back to the 12th century – you’ll have to arrange your tour of the latter in advance though. A short walk up Chapel Bar is Sinatra, a cool bar and restaurant with a European feel definitely worth visiting if the sun’s out thanks to its generous outdoor patio. Named after the man responsible for the handsome pair of stone lions guarding the nearby Council House, The Joseph Else is a vast chain pub that’s perfect for larger groups with loads of space and a varied, cost effective menu. Other popular venues include Squares, which shows sports of all kinds on large screens, and The Bank, that tips a wink to its financial name with loads of great value drinks deals.
Being home to one of the most creative communities in Nottingham gives the vibrant area of Hockley a unique feel. The pavement cafes and independent stores of Goosegate almost provide the atmosphere of a European capital city and the pedestrianised Pelham Street is all about fitting modern shops and businesses into original buildings.
Suede Bar is a brilliant lounge bar and pizzeria that boasts an impressive selection of bottled and draught beers as well as stone-baked sourdough pizzas - ideal if you’ve forgotten to eat and you’re having visions of being the one that has to go home before midnight. For something a little bit out of the ordinary, the Gothic-themed pub Pit and Pendulum is a themed venue that’s sure to shake things up. Now a staple establishment in large cities, the chain of bars run by Scottish craft beer champions Brewdog added a venue in Hockley in 2012. The interior is simple – high tables and hardwood floors – and above the magnificent brick bar, the hand-written blackboards run you through the wealth of delicious beers on offer.
Rum House - unsurprisingly a lively house of rum - has knowledgeable bartenders and an expansive cocktail menu. It also hides a not-so-secret tiki bar named Bad Juju upstairs, where teeny tiny umbrellas and inventive glassware are the orders of the day. For the later parts of the night, ‘superclub’ Pryzm is the largest of its kind in the city and has enough differently themed rooms and bars to satisfy even the pickiest of partiers.
Located south of Hockley, Lace Market was the epicentre of the British Empire’s significant lace-making industry. Today, in a renaissance similar to many industrial districts across England, almost all of the old warehouses and factories have been renovated and given new lives as trendy apartments, high-spec offices and even academic buildings. Dozens of inviting bars and restaurants have also popped up in this part of the city, making it easily the coolest place to bar hop in Nottingham.
The Angel is a beer-lover’s dream – recently refurbished and offering a wide selection of local and national ales. It’s also developing an on-site microbrewery, so is soon to offer its own range of beer, brewed in house. Specialising in the winning combination of drinks and chicken wings, Bunk is a Lace Market legend that dishes up brilliant drinks to get the group into the mood and massive platters of wings to make sure there’s at least something in your stomachs that isn’t booze. Feel free to drop a ‘Naga Viper Chilli Sauce’ wing into the stag’s pile when he’s not looking (just don’t tell him it was our idea). The Pitcher and Piano on High Pavement has to be seen to be believed. Set inside an incredible Grade-II listed church and maintaining original features like stained glass windows and striking stone pillars, the wraparound bar in the centre of the venue offers an impressive medley of draught beers, wines and cocktails.
Authentic swinging doors will definitely release your inner cowboy, and also guide you into the Last Chance Saloon, an American-themed bar that stocks over 80 varieties of whisky, including 50 bourbons. Filthy’s lives up to its name by providing a famously raucous and unpretentious atmosphere, as well as live music every night of the week, and The Lacehouse is a former lace factory turned bar that’s all exposed brick and industrial cool.
Always the scene of the final showdown between the city’s most famous outlaw, Robin Hood, and the evil Sheriff, Nottingham Castle sits on a naturally raised mass of land known as ‘Castle Rock’ that allows it a commanding position over the rest of the city. Around this mound, and sometimes built into the side of it, are some of the city’s most famous pubs and inns.
Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem is one of several pubs that lay claim to the title of oldest in England - whether or not that’s a genuine assertion, it’s a must-visit. Built snugly against Castle Rock, the pub is also attached to several sandstone caves that were originally used as a brewhouse for the castle above. Worth a trip for the history alone, they also take pride in serving a great pint of beer. At the top of the gently sloping Castle Road is Crafty Crow, which serves as a tap house for local small batch beer masters Magpie Brewery. They only dedicate three of their handpull taps to their own beer however, so there’s enough choice to satisfy even the choosiest connoisseur of malted barley. Opposite the Castle gate is The Castle pub, an impressive, four-level public house with a warm, welcoming atmosphere.
The Canal Front
A large cluster of canal-side factories and warehouses have been reimagined for the 21st century as a trendy patch of pubs, bars and restaurants with large outdoor terraces and patios that are extremely popular on sunny summer days. Even if the weather isn’t being kind on your visit, it’s certainly worth heading down to the lively Canal Front for a pint (or seven) to see what all the fuss is about.
The Company Inn is a large chain pub set inside an even larger waterside warehouse building. With loads of space and extremely reasonable pricing, it’s a perfect place to settle in for the long session with groups of all shapes and sizes. A stone’s throw up the canal are Waterfront, a traditional ‘local pub’ style watering hole, and The Canalhouse – worth a visit if only to check out the amazing internal canal and resident narrow boats. Borrowing its name from the largest and best-known canal transportation company in England for much of the 20th century, Fellows, Morton and Clayton serves ‘Cask Marque’ approved real ales behind an impressive, original facade.
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