Nottingham is a vibrant, cosmopolitan city, perfect for a sneaky spa break, a city break or a longer stay in which you can use a spa hotel as a base and explore some of the shops, culture and history. The city is stylish and absolutely full of things to do, whether you're into sport, live music and comedy, art or just chilling out.
You could stay local or head out in search of the legends of Robin Hood and mysterious Sherwood Forest. In the city there's the old Lace Market Quarter which doubles up as one of the liveliest parts of the city, crammed with trendy bars, cafes and entertainment. For shopping and general sightseeing the city is compact and there's a handy tram system to whizz you around so that you get to shop till you drop without getting sore feet!
Nottingham is home to the second largest public square in the UK (Trafalgar Square is the biggest) and the locals like to make the most of it since it was redesigned in 2006, using it for an ice rink in winter and transforming it into a makeshift beach in summer months.
For a little history and culture, you could visit the award-winning Galleries of Justice Museum, for a unique insight into crime, punishment and British justice in a former prison and courthouse. Inspect some fascinating police memorabilia that includes evidence from the Great Train Robbery trial. Head to Nottingham Castle and you'll also find a museum of fine art to peruse, and you can go three miles out of the city and discover Woollaton Hall, the Elizabethan mansion and deer park set in acres of gorgeous gardens and parks. Back in the city, Nottingham Contemporary is a new contemporary art space, only opened in 2009 which shows seasonal exhibits in all forms of art.
Spa Breaks in Nottingham
- The Nottingham Belfry Hotel is in an urban setting but you still feel as if you're away from it all if you stay there on a spa day or longer. The hotel is the perfect choice if you want an easily accessible place to stay that's close enough to the city for a night on the town or a shopping trip, but away from the crowds and complete with a gorgeous spa. The heated pool, Jacuzzi, relaxation area and more make the spa a must-visit area, and there's even a double treatment room if you want to share your choice of pampering treatment with a friend...
- Another out of town hotel spa is the Village Urban Resort Nottingham. It's only 15 minutes away from the city centre, so you can use it as a great base for a bit or retail therapy as well as making most of the spa therapies on offer too. Or you could just stay there and not leave the spa. The gym is not to be sniffed at and the pool is an ideal place to chill out by, in between trips to one of the hotel's many eating and drinking places.
- The Reeds Spa and Health club at the Best Western Premier Yew Lodge Hotel in Kegworth has recently benefitted from the hotel's £5m makeover, and it has to be said that it's now a fantastic pamper day or overnight venue. The sumptuous Decleor spa treatments are all there to be sampled and there's plenty to try out in the thermal suite too - experience showers, ice rooms and more. The hotel is well loved and popular, known for good food and friendly staff, and was the Best Western Hotel of the Year in 2005.
- The Spa@Livingwell in the city-centre Hilton Nottingham has an enviable spa menu, which spans holistic specialities like Hopi ear candling to hi-tech beauty treatments and soothing massage. The hotel also boasts an 18m swimming pool and sauna, diner and cocktail bars as well as close proximity to everything that's going on in the city.
There's no reason to go hungry in Nottingham; no matter what you're in the mood for, there will be a restaurant, cafe, pub or bistro there to cater for it. There are well over 300 places to eat just in the city centre, ranging from award winning fine dining restaurants with Michelin stars to quaint cafes and coffee bars.
- Sinatra's sounds classy and it is. It's situated in the Chapel Quarter area, which is increasingly turning into the place to be seen and it has a fabulous outdoor seating area along with opulent styling inside; think ornate mirrors and celebrity portraits. The vibe is cultured but relaxed and the bistro style menu covers classic dishes like an all-day breakfast and more eclectic choices like seared sea trout with sweet pea risotto.
Address: 8-16 Chapel Bar, Nottingham, NG1 6JQ
Tel: 0115 941 1050
- You'll find the Yamas Meze and Tapas on Thurland Street in the city centre. The Mediterranean inspired menu features some delicious light and tasty dishes from fresh seafood, octopus and mussels, along with a great selection of vegetarian options and sharing platters.
Address:Yamas Tapas and Meze, 5 Thurland Street, Nottingham NG1 3DR
Tel: 0115 950 1000
- Right in the centre of the cosmopolitan and trendy Lace Market area of Nottingham is the very popular Piccolino's restaurant and bar. Spacious and relaxing, with a great bar area, wooden floors and modern decor, it's great for a light bite, a cosy meal or a few drinks. The food here is great quality and you can even watch them prepare it as the kitchen area is open. The menu features pizzas and pasta as well as more unusual options like seafood skewers on saffron rice and a fantastic selection of veggie options.
Address: 7 Weekday Cross, Nottingham NG1 2GB
Tel: 0115 947 2169
- With links to Michelin star chef Atul Kocchar, and a long list of awards, if you like Indian food, a trip to MemSaab's is not to be missed. Easily missable with its unassuming exterior, the interior is another story, with authentic Indian pillars and a stylish contemporary feel. Atul Kocchar rates MemSaab as one of his top Indian restaurants, and the menu reflects the esteem the place is held in, with authentic Indian flavours evident in everything from chicken and lamb dishes to stunning king prawns and pan-fried sea bass.
Address: 12-14 Maid Marian Way, Nottingham NG1 6HS
Tel: 0115 957 0009
- The Bluu bar and Brasserie is also an award winner and it has a reputation as being one of the best eating places in Nottingham. The menu is traditional British, all done with style and using great quality ingredients, served up in a trendy, upmarket setting with a lively atmosphere. Downstairs you'll finds the basement where you can chill out with a cocktail or enjoy a party atmosphere with live DJs.
Address: 5 Broadway, Nottingham, NG1 1PR
Tel: 0115 9505359
- Carluccio's is another Nottingham favourite, catering for all your foodie needs with an all-day cafe, a gorgeous restaurant, and deli and food shop, all in one place. The chilled out Italian vibe is the perfect place to eat, drink and shop, close to fashionable Bridlesmith Gate and set in a grade II listed building. The menu changes with the seasons, and features genuine Italian dishes, created with fresh ingredients. Light bites such as salad and antipasti go hand-in-hand with pastas and risottos and desserts to die for.
Address: 10-12 Low Pavement, Nottingham, NG1 7DL
Tel: 0115 947 0309
- Cast Restaurant at the Nottingham Playhouse has a fantastic menu which it likes to describe as a 'fusion of British and World cuisine'. Loaded with the best fresh, local and seasonal ingredients, the Cast restaurant is a wonderful place to kick back in over a bite to eat. It's also the ideal pre-show venue, of course.
Address: PO Box 6431, Nottingham
Tel: 0115 852 38 98
- For one of the finest eating experiences in Nottinghamshire, head out of the city to Tom Browns Brasserie. It's set in a converted Victorian schoolhouse, right on the banks of the River Trent, and manages to combine character and charm with a modern continental vibe. Tom Browns has been runner up in the 'Best Out-of-Town Restaurant in Nottingham' awards for five years. Enjoy rural, riverside views from the mezzanine deck on a warm night, along with fresh, innovative dishes, an a la carte menu and 'early bird' menu, complemented by fine wines, ales and lagers.
Address: Tom Browns Brasserie, Trentside, Gunthorpe, Nottingham, NG14 7FB
Tel: 0115 966 3642
Nottingham is a fantastic venue for a night out, and the Lace Market quarter is fast turning into the place to head out to for a night on the town, whether it's for cultured entertainment or a debauched club night. The Lace Market is next to Hockley Village area, and the two areas are crammed with more bars, clubs and entertainment venues than you could possibly get through on a short stay.
Fashionable bars and clubs jostle with restaurants, the Lace Market Theatre, and the Nottingham Arena.
- The Living Room is one of the first bars you'll come across, and a great place to chill out. It's a smart bar with a cocktail menu and a relaxed restaurant attached. Perfect to start your night out.
- For a little bit of sunshine in the centre of the city, The Bad Juju Tiki bar is right in the heart of Hockley, and serves up fruity and Tiki cocktails along with a great selection of imported rums and accompanied with what it calls 'sunshine sounds', the cocktail menu is definitely one that's worth sampling and the fun, happy vibe will put a smile on your face.
- For something a bit different, rock chicks, emos and goths head to The Old Angel where you can sample metal, death metal, punk and karaoke nights!
- Gay nights are well represented with Propaganda the popular and lively gay venue also in the Lace Market. There's a huge variety of music on offer, live DJ action and live entertainment.
- If you're feeling a bit more upmarket, the first cocktail bar in Nottingham was Brass Monkey and it remains slightly elite, with a stricter dress code than you'll find in most other bars and clubs in the city. The cocktail menu is second to none, and the music complements the trendy image with great DJs and a sophisticated vibe. Definitely one to visit.
- Nottingham is blessed with a vast array of old fashioned pubs as well as trendy bars and gastro-pubs, and it's home to the oldest pub in England, Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem close to the castle. If you want a slice of British history with your drink, head here, or to Ye Old Salutation nearby which is almost as old, dating back to 1240. Also, check out the Bell Inn by Market Square, where Lord Byron himself once enjoyed a drink, or Langtry's in the city centre.
- Find everything you need for a good night out at the Cornerhouse which has been open since 2000 and become an icon in the city. Conveniently situated in the centre of Nottingham, opposite the Concert Hall, there's a 14 screen UGC cinema complex, bars including Revolution and a whole host of independent bars, clubs, cafes, restaurants and live music venues.
- For live music, the Nottingham Arena has plenty to choose from along with ice shows and big sporting events and has welcomed acts as diverse as Rihanna and Metallica. Many big names in music and comedy now make a point of performing there.
- The Royal Centre incorporates the Theatre Royal and Royal Concert Hall where you can catch a whole range of shows and events, musicals, dance, comedy, drama, opera and classical music as well as modern, contemporary and pop music.
- Comedy lovers might also want to head to Just the Tonic Comedy Club for some great entertainment and both established and up and coming acts.
Nottingham is right up there in the list of the UK's favourite retail centres, and a great place to spend some time and money when you're in the mood for some retail therapy. The fantastic shopping opportunities on offer include designers and independent boutiques, as well as high street fashion. The trendy Hockley area is the place to head for some serious fashion shopping, and is home to such esteemed names as Paul Smith, it's where he opened his first shop. The original store is still there in Byard Lane along with other fashion legends like Vivienne Westwood, Hugo Boss, Kurt Geiger, and Ted Baker.
- The Exchange has been providing shopping opportunities right in the centre Nottingham for over 75 years, and it's home to some of the best designer fashion and jewellery, interiors and gifts. Super stylish and classy from the outside too, the mall is set into an elegant Grade 2 listed building at the head of Market Square, hold on to your credit cards as you go in as they are bound to take a battering.
- Another classy retail emporium is the FH Mall on the site of the old Flying Horse Inn. It's chock full of exclusive boutiques and pretty little shops and you can pick up anything from wedding dresses to Vivienne Westwood.
- Head across to Westfield Broadmarsh shopping centre for well-known high street names, and independents that you might not have come across before.
- For designer wear at discount prices, you have to visit the East Midlands Designer Outlet there's a mouth-watering 70 or more stores with up to 60 per cent off fashion, home, accessories and more.
NOTTINGHAM'S TOP THREE SPAS
- The Saks Hair and Beauty spa is perfect for a quick day spa experience on a stay in Nottingham. It's part of the David Lloyd club, giving you the very best in fitness and wellbeing as well as beauty and spa therapies. The list of treatments is extensive and features the signature Saks treatments. You can also make the most of the spa facilities a pool to swim a few lengths in, a relaxing sauna and steam room and plenty of areas to relax in away from the busy city centre crowds.
- For pure unadulterated luxury you can't beat the Clumber Park Hotel and Spa, near Worksop. The New Leaf spa is serene and a haven of relaxation, complete with a large list of Elemis spa treatments to choose from. The spa is close to the natural beauty of Sherwood Forest and the Clumber Park National Trust area, but if you'd prefer to stay closer to the spa, you can get a taste of the outdoors in an outdoor hot tub too.
- For a spa with everything in the city, newly restored Beautification Spa and Salon is charming and elegant, and full of spa treats you might not find elsewhere in Nottingham. Start with the spa's starlit double treatment room, go through to the Moroccan style relaxation lounge and book a relaxing or reviving treatment just so that you can try out the exclusive floatation water beds, warmed up to just over body temperature, the first of their kind in Nottingham.