University city spotlight: Nottingham

Helping your child with their choice of university can mean Open Day visits the length and breadth of the country. Plus visits and stays when your child is studying there.

Our ‘Uni Visits’ pages focus on university towns and cities all over the UK, offering local expertise on where to stay, eat and what to do to get the best out of your time there.

By Erin Huckle, Experience Nottinghamshire.

Wollaton Hall - Back view with statue
Wollaton Hall is right next to the University of Nottingham campus

Nottingham is home to two leading universities: the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University. With thousands of students calling Nottingham home at any one point, it boasts the third largest student population in England.

The University of Nottingham is located just two miles from the city centre, with extensive leafy grounds on its historic campus, including the beautiful Highfields Park, complete with boating lake where you can row in the summer and great for cycling, walking and running year round.

Nottingham Trent University is located in the heart of the city centre, within easy walking distance of a myriad of restaurants, cafes, bars and things to do.

In the city centre, head to the impressive Old Market Square to get your bearings – this beautiful public space hosts many events throughout the year, and here you’ll also find the Nottingham Tourist Information Centre, the best spot for information on what to do while in the city.

Where to stay
The University of Nottingham offers a new eco hotel onsite, The Orchard Hotel, which is ideal for visiting and checking out the campus and nearby attractions. The Nottingham Belfry Hotel and the newly opened Doubletree by Hilton are also both good options and just a short drive away.

For city centre accommodation, ideal for Nottingham Trent University or just to check out the city, try the newly opened Roomzzz Aparthotel, which offers stylish self catering apartments with great city views, or one of the city’s luxury hotels such as St James Hotel or Hart’s Hotel if you’re looking to push the boat out. The Mercure Hotel in Nottingham is ideally located in the Hockley neighbourhood in the city centre, perfect for checking out the local restaurants and bars, and both the Hilton and Crowne Plaza hotels are in the city centre and have onsite indoor pools.

Looking for something on a budget? Igloo Hostel is a ten minute walk from the Old Market Square and offers friendly independent quirky hostel accommodation. Great for students and their families.

Where to eat

Alley Cafe vegetarian cafe
vegetarian and vegan heaven at The Alley Cafe

Nottingham’s dining scene has recently undergone a revival, with more than 30 new places to eat opening in the city in the last year alone. We recommend…

Delilah: Deli meets cafe at this stylish eatery, stocked full with local produce and offering hearty breakfasts and lunches throughout the day.

Baresca: A new tapas restaurant and bar, taking inspiration from Spain, the menu del Dia is informal and inexpensive, offering a three-course lunch for just £9.95.

Cosmo: A reinvention of the traditional buffet restaurant, offering freshly cooked food from around the world in a designer setting, ideally located just a short walk from Nottingham Trent University.

Warsaw Diner: A popular student haunt in Canning Circus offering American style breakfasts in a quirky diner setting.

George’s Fish & Chip Kitchen: Located in a beautiful old bank building, George’s opened in 2015 and is already standing out from the crowd with its beautiful seafood and fun cocktail menu, including cocktails topped with candy floss!

Alley Cafe: A vegetarian and vegan cafe with friendly staff, fresh food and relaxed European cafe feel, tucked away in an Alley just off the Old Market Square.

Top pubs: Nottingham is home to the oldest pub in England, Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, which is built into sandstone caves beneath Nottingham Castle. Other top choices include the Malt Cross, a former music hall turned cafe and bar where Charlie Chaplin once performed, and the Junkyard, renowned for its craft beer and fantastic food. Looking for something different? The Canalhouse has a canal boat housed inside it and Pitcher & Piano is located inside a former church, with stunning stained glass windows.

Don’t Miss
There’s plenty to explore in Nottingham, whether you’re into music, sport or exploring the great outdoors…

Wollaton Hall & Deer Park: A beautiful Elizabethan mansion set in a 500 acre deer park adjacent to the University of Nottingham campus. (It was cast as Wayne Manor in 2012 Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises). Take a tour of the hall, walk around the lake or pack a picnic to enjoy the park. There are events and festivals here all year round, including the No Tomorrow music festival in June and the Splendour music festival in July.

Lakeside Arts Centre: Located on campus at the University of Nottingham in Highfields Park, this arts centre hosts free events and exhibitions throughout the year, as well as an impressive programme of theatre and live music. While here, stop for a slice of cake at the cafe onsite with views over the lake, before hiring a boat and taking to the water for some rowing.

Nottingham Contemporary: In the heart of the Lace Market area of Nottingham and one of the UK’s leading contemporary art venues, it’s free to visit and hosts exhibitions from UK and international artists. It also boasts an excellent cafe and bar, plus a packed events programme including talks, film screenings and live music.

Meet Robin Hood: Take a walking tour of the city with Robin Hood himself, or try a brewery tour with Robin Hood at Castle Rock Brewery. Don’t forget to get your photo taken at the iconic Robin Hood statue outside Nottingham Castle, perfect spot for a selfie.

Explore underground: Nottingham has more than 500 manmade caves beneath the city. Visit the City of Caves attraction to see caves dating back to medieval times, or take a cave tour at Nottingham Castle or The Bell Inn, a historic pub just off the Old Market Square. Finish up with a meal in a cave – The Hand & Heart pub on Derby Rd has a dining room inside a cave.

Live music: From international headliners at the 10,000 seat Capital FM Arena to indie rock at Rock City and up and comers at the Bodega, Nottingham is a music city with live music on any night of the week.

Love the nightlife: Looking for a laugh? Head to the Glee Club or Just the Tonic for the best in stand-up comedy. The historic Theatre Royal hosts leading touring west end productions and quality drama performances, and The Nottingham Playhouse is known for its cutting edge contemporary theatre productions.

Events in October: When it comes to festivals, Nottingham is the place to be in October. The city attracts thousands to its festivals and events each October, including the Robin Hood Beer Festival at Nottingham Castle, the Festival of Words, the Robin Hood Pageant, Game City and the Goose Fair.

For more inspiration visit:

Pic credits: Visit England

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