Expert Insights

Spotlight on Nottingham: Hotels, event space and much more

1 February 2019

A city with a rich history but it's the young population that's helping the local economy to thrive.

In recent years Nottingham has justifiably gained a reputation for being one of the most vibrant and creative places in the UK. Of course, it has always been a magnet to attract tourists through the legend of Robin Hood, but there is more to this city than men in tights.

From a commercial perspective, over £500m was invested into Nottinghamshire in 2017 through retail, office and industrial acquisitions – the highest figure since the 2008 recession.

Growth has largely been driven by leisure and property fuelled, in part, by its large student population. In fact, nearly 30% of people living in Nottingham are aged 18-29 and that huge pool of young talent is starting new enterprises and helping the local the economy to grow.

Earlier this year, Nottingham joined Liverpool as the top-ranked UK city for buy to let. The next challenge is to try and deliver more Grade A office space, especially within the city centre.

Elsewhere, Nottingham Castle is currently being given a £30m facelift. The castle and the network of caves that flow underneath the city provide an integral part of the Robin Hood story. The redevelopment, which will be completed in 2020, should further enhance its status as one of the biggest attractions outside of the London.

Award-winning restaurants

The UK's chain restaurants may be going through testing times, but in Nottingham new and independent enterprises continue to open across the city.

You will be spoilt for choice when it comes curries along Maid Marian Way (aka the Madras Mile) from Mogal E Azam, which recently celebrated its 40th year in business, to the city’s best lamb chops at MemSaab and contemporary Indian cuisine at Cumin.

At the very top end, there is Restaurant Sat Bains. This doesn’t promise much in terms location given it’s situated underneath a flyover. But it consistently ranks among the best restaurants in Britain as demonstrated by the two Michelin-stars that eponymous chef has achieved for his bold and adventurous tasting menus.

A groundbreaking holiday destination

In 1987, a new concept changed the game for family holidays. Sherwood was the first Center Parcs to open in the UK. It remains as popular as ever and is expected to build on that success when a £15m revamp of the Sherwood complex is completed next summer.

The historic Lace Market is the oldest part of Nottingham’s city centre. In the late 1990s, a redevelopment programme saw disused buildings and factories in this district transformed into upmarket apartments, bars, restaurants and hotels. The Lace Market Hotel is set in a Georgian Townhouse. There is an Art Deco influence about the décor and each of its 42 rooms is distinctively different. Maximum capacity for meetings is 100 buffet style and 60 theatre style

The Park Plaza provides big spacious rooms in the city centre at competitive rates. It has a maximum meetings capacity of 500 and 25 bedrooms. The same can be said for Jurys Inn, which is just a five-minute walk from Nottingham station with 274 bedrooms and maximum meetings capacity of 100 theatre style.

If you’re planning to visit one of the 44,000 students who study here, then the Hilton is virtually on the doorstep of Trent University, just 22 minutes away.

Legendary watering holes

Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem is Britain’s oldest inn and, as you would expect, boasts a rich and colourful history. It is said that King Richard the Lionheart and his men gathered here before journeying to Jerusalem in 1189AD, hence the name.

The Cook & Hoop used to be known as the County Tavern and, in keeping with his pursuit of the darker side of life, Lord Byron would often book a room here to get the best view of a public hanging at what is now the Galleries of Justice.

Historic event spaces

There are said to be around 182,000 meeting spaces to choose from in and around the Nottingham area. The Albert Hall is a listed building that first opened in 1873 and can be found in the Castle Zone of the city centre next to the Nottingham Playhouse. Further out of town there is the East Midlands Conference Centre which can accommodate events ranging from 10 to 1000 delegates and has the De Vere Orchard Hotel on site, which boasts “sustainable offering”.

If you’re looking for something entirely different then the medieval St Mary’s Church in the Lace Market certainly ticks that box. It can hold up to 350 people and was once frequented by Nottingham’s ubiquitous outlaw.

The home of a British fashion icon

Paul Smith is one of Nottingham’s favourite sons. Back in 1970, Smith opened his first boutique on Byard Lane, which only recently closed, and he still has a flagship store at the five-floor, Grade II listed Willoughby House, which is situated above the Nottingham Caves. Bridlesmith Gate is where you’ll find familiar names such as BOSS, Cath Kidston, Kurt Geiger and Ted Baker. Alternatively, if you’re looking for something a bit quirky, head towards the indie boutiques in Hockley, which is known the creative quarter of the city and is also home to the Broadway Cinema as well as a dizzying selection of new bars and restaurants.

Getting there

The fastest train from London to Nottingham takes 92 minutes. East Midlands airport is 13 miles from Nottingham and handles flights to over 80 destinations across Europe and America including Berlin, New York and Dubrovnik. There are plans for an East Midlands Hub station in Toton, which is currently on Nottingham’s tram network and is halfway between Derby and Nottingham. The station would form part of the proposed HS2 network and will be a focal point in a major regeneration project aimed at turning Toton into an ‘innovation campus’. This is in addition to getting Uber around town or using their equivalent of London’s Boris Bikes Citycard Cycles.