A Student Guide: Nottingham City Guide

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Samir Badawy

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28 May, 2023

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10 mins read

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Nottingham is a historic city of legend and mystery and is often associated with the tales of Robin Hood. Nottingham is ranked among the top UK student cities for its living standards, and it has one of the most prestigious universities, the University of Nottingham.

 If you choose Nottingham as your destination, you’re in for a fun adventure as the city combines the old and the new. At Casita, we offer various options for student accommodation in Nottingham for current or future students.

About Nottingham

Nottingham is a historic city located by the Trent River in the old county of Nottinghamshire in England’s East Midlands region. The town was historically settled by the Anglo-Saxon tribe of the Snotingas people in the sixth century, who gave it the name Snotingaham, meaning the home of the Snotingas people, and was later anglicised to become Nottingham. 

The old settlement was later incorporated into Danelaw, the Danish-established colony in England, by the 9th century. In 1066, with the Norman conquest of the region, they established another town next to the old town, which remained separate until the 1300s. In 1155, a market was built between both towns, giving Nottingham market city status and making it an important trading centre.

Today, the city is known for its education thanks to the 1881-established University College, later becoming the University of Nottingham, and the 1843-established Nottingham Trent University. Nottingham was also commercially strong through its market and unique location in the East Midlands. It was also known for its lace-making industry and later became a significant provider of services all over the region.

According to the QS World Universities Ranking, Nottingham Trent ranks 801–1000 worldwide, while the University of Nottingham ranks 114 worldwide.

Nottingham City Guide

Top Things to Do in Nottingham

 Nottingham is full of unique things to do, including notable places to eat and enjoy coffee and tea, beautiful scenery, plenty of places to shop, and various historical sights. 

Go Sightseeing

Exploring Nottingham’s sights should be at the top of your bucket list; these include historic palaces and castles such as Wollaton Hall and the famous Nottingham Castles associated with the Robin Hood legend. It also has the Old Market Square, one of the city’s oldest squares, and various historic churches and abbeys. 

The city has various baroque structures as well as beautiful red brick buildings. By simply walking around the city, you’ll witness different beautiful red-brick structures and historic factories reminiscent of the city’s industrial past. In short, Nottingham’s attractions are a must-see and will be covered further in the Nottingham attractions section.

Explore Areas in Nottingham

Nottingham is full of unique areas to be discovered; these include the Nottingham city centre, Hockley, the Lace Market, Hyson Green, and the Park.

1. City Centre

Nottingham’s historic city centre, which still contains mediaeval structures, has several modern buildings, coffee shops, restaurants, and shopping centres. This part of Nottingham includes some of the city’s oldest structures, such as the Nottingham Castle and the old Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem pub, founded in 1189.

2. Hockley

Hockley is known as Nottingham’s creative district for its boutique shops, cafes, music spots and venues, and art galleries. It is a must-visit if you’re an art lover. This part of town is also nicknamed “the Soho of Nottingham”.

3. Hyson Green

Hyson Green is known as Nottingham’s shopping district and has historically contained fewer houses than shopping outlets. Housing in this part of town was first introduced to accommodate workers in the sock-making workshops in the neighbourhood.

4. Lace Market

Lace Market is a unique district containing 19th-century architecture and historic workshops reflecting the city’s lace-making past. Many old workshops and warehouses have been repurposed into shops, museums, and apartments.

5. The Park

The park is a neighbourhood reminiscent of Victorian days with its beautiful Victorian architecture and Victorian gas lamps. The park is right next to Nottingham Castle and was once used as a royal hunting ground. It got its name from the park that was once part of the Nottingham Castle grounds.

Nottingham City Guide

Enjoy the Riverside

The riverside provides beautiful views of the Trent River; the river can be best enjoyed from spots such as the National Water Sports Centre, where you can also canoe and kayak in the Trent River, or you can also have a nice seat by where you can enjoy the beautiful river views.

Explore the City’s Art Scene

Nottingham is a cultural city boasting various platforms for many types of art, most notably art galleries, music halls, and theatres. The city has multiple galleries, including the famous Nottingham Contemporary Art Gallery and the New Art Exchange. You can also enjoy performances at the Theatre Royal Nottingham and the Nottingham Playhouse.

Explore the City’s Natural Landscape

Nottingham has a beautiful green landscape surrounded by the Sherwood Forest; it also contains hills, various gardens and parks, and the beautiful Trent River. To explore the city’s beautiful landscape, head to the 19th-century-established Arboretum, home to over 800 trees, or visit Silverhill and Silverhill Woods; this hill is one of the county’s highest peaks, providing breathtaking views.

Explore the City’s Food Scene

The city of Nottingham has a rich food scene due to its diversity. In Nottingham, you can find everything from French restaurants to tapas bars to Mediterranean, Indian, and Japanese restaurants, among other cuisines.

Top Places to Eat and Drink in Nottingham

Top Places to Eat and Drink in Nottingham

As mentioned, Nottingham has many places to eat and drink; some of the city’s top restaurants, coffee shops, and tea houses are listed below.

Restaurants

1. Sat Bains: Lenton Lane, Nottingham

Sat Bains is a cosy family-run restaurant established in 2005; its 10-course tasting menu is what they are known for the most. Sat Bains is also known for its creative and unique ambience, which combines luxury and innovation and offers a unique modern gastronomy experience.

2. Kushi-ya: 1A Cannon Court, Nottingham

Kushi-ya is an award-winning Japanese restaurant and Japanese grillhouse that is featured in the Michelin Food Guide. The restaurant is known for its traditional, simplistic atmosphere and kushiyaki, vegetables or meat grilled on a skewer. The restaurant also has various small plates for sharing.

3. The Cod’s Scallops: (Sherwood, Wollaton, Long Eaton, Market Harborough, Harborne, West Bridgford)

This award-winning fish and chip restaurant serves up some of the best seafood in town. It is owned and operated by John Molnar, who has over 30 years of experience in the kitchen. The restaurant offers more than 20 different types of fish to choose from and also sells shellfish and pies.

4. Alchemilla: 192 Derby Rd, Nottingham

Alchemilla is another popular restaurant featured in the Michelin Guide. Despite having a rustic and Victorian atmosphere, it is very modern. The restaurant is known for its creativity in combining flavours and offers modern British cuisine.


Cafes and Tea Houses

1. The Hungry Pumpkin: 38 High Pavement, Nottingham

The Hungry Pumpkin is a family-run Italian deli and cafe offering coffee and various breakfast and lunch options. It is known for its diverse menu, which includes gluten-free, vegan, and healthy choices. They also have a diverse coffee and tea selection and various sandwich options.

2. Cafe Sobar: 22 Friar Ln, Nottingham

Cafe Sobar is a cafe and a non-alcoholic bar; they, however, still offer the same fun atmosphere as other bars. Cafe Sobar has an extensive menu of breakfast options, sandwiches, and a hot beverage selection that includes tea and coffee, cakes, and mocktails.

3. Cartwheel Cafe and Roastery: 16 Low Pavement, Nottingham

Cartwheel Cafe and Roastery is a small cafe in Nottingham that provides sustainable, high-quality coffee. They offer various coffee and tea options and get creative with their drinks, using multiple brewing techniques and experimenting with flavours. They also offer breakfast and brunch options and different toasts with toppings.

4. Biscuit and Brew Tea House: 12 Hounds Gate, Nottingham 

Biscuit and Brew Tea House is a teahouse in the city centre with a cosy environment and an impressive tea selection. Their tea blends are unique and include their Biscuit Brew blend, Pear & Pistachio blend, Salted Caramel blend, and Plum Tart blend, among other special blends. They also have a matcha tea selection. For food, they have breakfast and lunch options served all day, desserts, and light bites.

Where to Shop in Nottingham

Where to Shop in Nottingham

Victoria Centre

Victoria Centre is one of Nottingham’s largest and most recognisable shopping centres. It contains popular brands such as Gucci, Urban Outfitters, Tom Ford, Hershey’s, and John Lewis. In total, it includes 120 different shops. It also has various cafes and dining spots, such as Costa Coffee, McDonald’s, Auntie Anne’s, and Taco Bell, among others. 

The Exchange Arcade

The Exchange Arcade is one of the oldest arcades in the city, having been built from 1927 to 1929. This arcade offers a variety of options, from unique designer brands and boutique shops to places to eat and drink. Some of its most unique brands include Dr. Martens, Castle Fine Art for fantastic artwork and sculptures, Pret A Manger, and Up & Running Sportswear.

Bridlesmith Gate

Unlike the previous options, Bridlesmith Gate is a shopping street rather than an arcade or centre. It contains some of the most recognisable brands and unique boutique shops; these include Ecco, Fred Perry, Boss, Ted Baker, and Fatface. Not to mention that the street also branches out into various other streets that contain various unique cafes and dining spots.


Transportation in Nottingham

Buses

Nottingham has its own local buses operated by Nottingham City Transport and Trentbarton. These buses include CTVN, Kinchbus, Marshalls, and Stagecoach. These buses travel in the city and connect to nearby cities.

To fill the gap on the routes not covered by the previously mentioned buses, Linkbus also offers other bus services. These buses include Locallink, Medilink, Worklink, and Easylink, all managed by the Nottingham City Council.

Trams

The Nottingham Tram System is called the NET and offers various packages for students, residents, and commuters. Trams arrive every seven minutes on weekdays and every 10 minutes on weekends and are available seven days a week. There are nine tram stops, with the maximum route taking 15 minutes.

Rail

The EMR, also known as the East Midlands Railway, connects Nottingham to its surrounding cities through various transport links, such as London, Manchester, Leicester, and Liverpool.

Student Life in Nottingham

As a student city, Nottingham has some of the best student-friendly places, including youthful cafes and restaurants, plenty of shopping spots, and a variety of music venues. The city is considered the ninth-best student city in the UK and among the most affordable student cities in the country. The city also includes various green areas, breathtaking river views, and plenty of history, making it an ideal place for students to live, not to mention the city’s diverse population and prestigious universities.

Cost of Living in Nottingham

In Nottingham, you can get a room in a shared apartment for as little as £400 per month; the average price for this type of room is £750 per month in other cities, while utilities can cost an average of £240 per month. Not including rent, living costs are estimated at £765.9 per month.

Nottingham Attractions

Old Market Square

The Old Market Square is an 800-year-old historic square in Nottingham and is the oldest square in the city. In 2004, the square underwent a re-design, which led to the introduction of newer street furniture with soft landscaping. The 1929-built city council building also complements the square.

Nottingham Castle

Nottingham Castle is one of the iconic landmarks of Nottingham and has roots dating back to the ninth century, after its establishment by the Danes. The castle later became a residence for Norman leaders, was engulfed in a coup in 1330, and was associated with the legend of Robin Hood.

The City of Caves

The City of Caves is a network of underground tunnels containing over 800 caves. These caves served various purposes: as a tannery, a pub cellar, and even an air raid bunker. Some of these caves were naturally formed, while others were hand-dug and have been used since mediaeval times.

Highfields Park

Highfields Park is a historic park with roots going back to the 18th century; the park, however, was redeveloped in 1920 when Sir Jesse Boot purchased the land, which became the grounds of the University of Nottingham’s Campus. The landscaping was already done by the previous landowners. However, it was further enhanced by the university.

Sherwood Forest

Sherwood Forest is one of the most unique green spots in the city and is often associated with the legends of Robin Hood. Sherwood was once a royal hunting ground and once covered 100,000 acres. Today, the park attracts more than 350,000 visitors a year and covers 375 hectares. The park contains more than 900 trees, including an oak tree estimated to have been around for 800 to 1000 years; many oak trees have survived in the forest for more than 500 years.

Wollaton Hall

Wollaton Hall is an Elizabethan-styled Grade I-listed palace and museum, synonymous with its use as the Wayne Manor in the Batman Trilogy. Wollaton Hall was built in the 1580s to accommodate Sir Francis Willoughby and his family. The hall has much more to offer than just the hall itself and its museum; it also features a deer park and various gardens. 

Nottingham Student Accommodation

Where to Find the Best Nottingham Student Accommodation

Regarding student accommodation in Nottingham, these are some of the best areas to stay, as well as some of our options for student housing in Nottingham.

Beeston

Beeston is one of the local favourites and has a variety of Victorian and Edwardian buildings. It is also a safe neighbourhood, being the third safest in Nottingham. It also has various parks and is near natural reserves.

The Park

The Park is a neighbourhood near the city centre noted for its beautiful Victorian buildings, some dating back to the 1840s. It is considered one of the quietest and most peaceful areas in the city.

  • Boulevard Wharf is one of our options in this suburb and offers various options, which include studios. The building offers beautiful canal views.

City Centre

The city centre is among the most coveted spots to live; it is close to all your needs and is packed with history. Some of our options in the city centre include:

Lenton

Lenton is often regarded as one of Nottingham’s most famous student housing destinations, and it has a large student population. Originally a village, Lenton further developed and became part of Nottingham in 1877; it also has a rich industrial history. One of our options in Lenton includes the following:

  • Triumph House offers studios and services apartments and has communal lounges, game rooms, and a gym.

At Casita, we wish you a memorable stay in Nottingham and aim to assist you in finding your perfect student accommodation in Nottingham. For more information regarding student accommodation in Nottingham, keep reading or contact one of our accommodation experts.

FAQs

1. What are some things to do in Nottingham?

Sightseeing, exploring different areas in Nottingham, exploring the city’s art scene, exploring the city’s natural beauty, and don’t forget to enjoy the riverside!

2. What are the Nottingham Caves?

The City of Caves is a network of underground tunnels containing over 800 caves. 

3. What is the Nottingham Castle?

The Nottingham Castle has roots dating back to the ninth century, after its establishment by the Danes. The castle later became a residence for Norman leaders. It is linked to the legends of Robin Hood.


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