7 May 2016

City Guide | 24 Hours in Nottingham

It’s true that a little local knowledge definitely goes a long way. When we set off to Nottingham a couple of weeks back, we’d done a bit of research, asked a few folks where we should go and what we should do; but, at the end of the first day we were feeling a bit down.

Partly, it was because of the weather (after a sunny start, it rained almost non-stop). Partly, it was because we were struggling with the controls on an old version of FIFA, back at our Airbnb. But, mainly, it was because we hadn’t seen much of the city that really captivated us. Don’t get me wrong, we’d been to a couple of good shops and bars; we just hadn’t seen anything out of the ordinary or anything particularly noteworthy.

Realm & Empire a British brand, with roots in the Midlands, that we’ve known and loved for a long while now had read through our other city guides and thought we could do something similar in Nottingham. This was a project for our friends and we really didn’t want to let them down!

Thankfully, on that first day, we also spoke to the right people. The guys at Waste Studio, a creative agency with one epic toy collection, and the folks at Ideas on Paper, a really cool magazine shop, stuffed full of every magazine you’ll ever want to read, pointed us in the right direction.

It turns out, Nottingham is a pretty cool place and, not only that, it’s small enough to visit more-or-less everything on foot. Win-win!

 Wearing - Jacket, Shirt and Waistcoat c/o Realm & Empire | Albam Jeans | Red Wing Boots

So, on that second day, we saw the city for real. Places we’d walked blindly passed the first time, we now stopped for a closer look. DOHM, for instance a small shop selling homewares, accessories, and clothing was tucked away down a tiny alley that anyone could easily miss.

The same goes for Brew Cavern bottle store, and local alternations shop, Apalts. The Lacehouse cocktail bar, was a bit more obvious; but still, neither of us had heard of it. It’s well-worth a visit, especially if their happy hour extends to a rum old fashioned. They're also packing a secret cinema in the basement.

We found some great photo opportunities too. The proper old school red-brick buildings of the Lace Market were a brilliant backdrop, as was the intricate steel-work of the Nottingham Contemporary Gallery - I just wish we’d grabbed a shot of the huge light covered keyboard in their cafe.

Overshirt by Realm & Empire

The weather didn’t really play too much havoc either. Realm & Empire had given us a few pieces from their Spring Summer '16 collection and, being a British brand, they know that clothes in the UK need to keep you warm, cool, and dry often, all at the same time!

Nottingham was a good choice for a city guide, as it has a strong menswear heritage and an equally strong-looking future. For instance, Nottingham is the home of Paul Smith's Willoughby House store a brightly coloured treasure trove of British design it was hard to drag Mat away from. 

Our friends at Universal Works are also based in the city and, having visited their studio earlier in the day, we checked out their new store in the Rough Trade building, which also features an impressive store by skincare brand Aesop. There, the mind-boggling bespoke water feature alone was worth the hike up all those stairs.

Of course, a trip to any city wouldn’t be complete without us uncovering the best coffee shops and bars. Both Wired and 200 Degrees offer up that cafe experience, so ubiquitous now in London. Ace coffee, free wifi, good snacks, and a quiet spot to sit, chill, and collect your thoughts. Junkyard and Das Kino were the pick of the bars. A real "BrewDog" sort of vibe in both, but with less of the dim lighting and loud music (hey, it was a bit too early for all of that). 

It’s always great when you find a bar, with knowledge staff, who aren’t too busy to chat you through what the place has to offer. 

Typically, as we checked out of our Airbnb and walked down to the station, the rain began, and grew worse. Even though our soaking was Mat’s fault, for refusing to get the tram, I couldn’t be cross about it. Nottingham had shown us the best of what it had to offer; not only its history, retailers and businesses, but the individual people and community that bring the city closer together.

This post is in partnership with Realm & Empire. Thank you for taking the time to support the brands + businesses that make this blog happen.


  1. Excellent timing, I'm going to be passing through Nottingham in a couple of weeks and I've already marked the pub (MUST visit our oldest pub!) but I love to sound of Paul Smith's shop too. The man is a legend.

    Becky | accoohtrements life, travel + design blog

  2. Glad to hear you guys ended up enjoying the place after all! The contemporary gallery looks pretty awesome, love those shots you got.

    Jane / deluminators

  3. Maria Fallon17:22

    You always find the best places, your guides are brilliant!

    Maria xxx

  4. That pub is so cool! Built into a cave. Such an experience. Shame we couldn't get a better shot of the inside. Enjoy!

  5. Thanks Maria! As we said in the piece, we have the folks of Nottingham to thanks! Without them, I think we'd have struggled to find such a cool selection of places.

  6. Oo, this looks like a lot of fun. It seems like there's a little bit of everything for everyone.

    Stephanie ● Sartorial Diner

  7. We love Nottingham. Sorry I was not there to welcome you. you are in right place to showcase your style guide.


  8. lifestyleandso22:44

    amazing post including great photo,Nottingham looks so beautiful


  9. I always perk up a bit when I see something about a tasty burger! I'd love to visit Nottingham! And that's a great green shirt ya have on

  10. Oh Nottingham! On my list next time i visit UK!

  11. I kept meaning to visit Ideas on Paper! Despite living in Notts for few months now I haven't really visited anything interesting yet and thanks to you I have a must visit list DOHM being one of them definitely :)

    Katrina Sophia

  12. Where have you visited in England before?

  13. Anthony Wallis09:03

    Next time you visit you must stop by Doughnotts, the best in the land. From there come visit the S&B store out of town in an old mining village. Quirky but quintessentially British.

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