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nottingham design guide {update}

by Grace Bonney

Today’s city guide update come from  the original nottingham guide author Laura Millward. the guide is full of great design/craft/art destinations, commentary on the city as a whole, and details about Nottingham’s notable exports (DH LawrencePaul Smith and Jonathan Galzer, among others). Thankfully, over the years not much has change in this beautiful city, but Laura has added some more great shops and restaurants to check out. thank you laura for a wonderful update!–Stephanie

CLIKC HERE for more nottingham guide after the jump!

I moved to Nottingham four years ago when I got a job here at the local newspaper. Since then I’ve discovered so many little shops and great cafes, I’m excited to share them with everyone on Design Sponge!

As well as being the home of Robin Hood, Nottingham is a very creative city. Some of its most famous exports include author DH Lawrence, renowned fashion designer Paul Smith, and graduates of its university include noted film director Jonathan Glazer and more recently illustrator Jon Burgerman.

Nottingham has many cultural attractions, including the Castle, the historic Lace Market area and the Major Oak in the heart of Sherwood Forest, famous for being the hiding place of Robin Hood and his band of Merrie Men!

My favorite part of the city center is probably the Lace Market and adjoining area of Hockley. Hockley is known as the “arty” side of town and there are many quirky shops and great restaurants here, as well as two independent cinemas which help make this part of town all the more lively and interesting to wander round.

Nottingham is listed in the top 5 British shopping destinations and there are lots of unique shops here, some of which I have listed below. Let me know if there’s any I’ve missed!



ATOMIC GIFTS (Exchange Arcade, Nottingham)
This great little gift-shop includes many unusual items, design books and moomins mugs as well as some fun birthday cards and wrapping paper. There is also an Atomic Interiors shop situated in Plumptre Square selling wonderful designer furniture, lighting and quirky bookshelves.

THE TOKENHOUSE (39- 41 Bridlesmith Gate, Nottingham)
This is my favourite gift shop as it has a brilliant range of cards, wrapping paper and children’s toys. It also has a wide selection of Emma Bridgewater pottery.

Vintage / Clothing

DAPHNE’S HANDBAG (67 Mansfield Road, Nottingham)
If you visit Nottingham make sure to take a wander up Mansfield Road. There are many unusual shops up here including Daphne’s Handbag which is a treasure trove of vintage homeware, furniture, jewellery and other odds and ends dating from the sixties onwards.

THE VINTAGE WAREHOUSE (82-84 Lower Parliament Street)
Only recently opened, literally a warehouse full of vintage shoes and clothing. You may have to rummage through to find a gem but that’s part of the fun.

WILD CLOTHING (4–6 Broad St, Nottingham, NG1 3AL)
Wild and its new sister shop, Wilder, stock the usual vintage clothing, but you can often find pretty summer dresses on the racks at the back and you may spot the odd indie band member buying pumps while you’re in there.

COW (2 George St, Nottingham NG1 3RE)
Cow is a large vintage shop that stocks shoes, bags, and a wide variety of clothing at an affordable price.


LUNA (139 Lower Parliament St NG1 1EE)
Luna specializes in original homeware, lighting, telephones and other items, check their website for new items each week.

LE CHIEN ET MOI (60 Derby Road, Nottingham Tel 0115979919)
An interesting selection of homeware lies within Le Chien et Moi and if you’re lucky you might get to meet Mulberry the resident Basset Hound when you visit!

Arts & Crafts

THE BEAD SHOP, (7 Market Street, Nottingham, NG1 6HY)
A beautiful array of all the beads you could think of!

THE ARTS ORGANIZATION, (21 Station Street, NG2)
Situated next to the train station, this gallery and tea bar holds evening classes in dance and life drawing as well as regular workshops and exhibitions. There is also a darkroom available to the local community which can be hired hourly or by the day. A regular craft fair is held here on the first Saturday of each month where local designers can sell hand-crafted goods.


Food, Tea & Coffee

LEE ROSY’S TEA SHOP (17 Broad Street, NG1 3AJ)
If, like me, you are more of a tea drinker than a coffee fan, Lee Rosy’s is a must for relaxing with a cuppa after a hard day’s work (or shopping!) It also has some tempting home made cakes and often hosts some great little bands as well. Opens 10.30am til 6pm Sundays, 10 – 8pm Mon-Wed and 10am til 10pm Thurs-Saturday, free wireless internet.

FADE CAFE BAR (171 Mansfield Rd Nottingham, NG1 3FR)
Also known as “The Hard to Find Cafe,” it is in fact fairly easy to find this eaterie if you venture up Mansfield Road and it’s well worth it for the laid back atmosphere and friendly staff. Some great food options and unusual beer choices help make this place a favorite amongst those who’ve discovered it.

DELILAH DELI (15 Middle Pavement, Nottingham NG17DX)
This award-winning deli offers over 200 cheeses, 50 salamis and meats and 1000’s of treats and store cupboard items, as well as an exclusive wine selection.

KAYAL RESTAURANT (8 Broad Street, Nottingham, NG1 3AL)
This restaurant, specializing in South Indian cuisine, has been busy ever since it opened up last year. With unusual dishes to try such as deep fried banana slices, it’s worth a trip and the prices are also very reasonable.

JAM CAFE (12 Heathcote St, Hockley, Nottingham NG1 3AA)
With friendly staff and tasty food, the Jam Cafe has become one of my favourite places to relax with a cuppa or meet up with friends for a beer in the evening. They also hold regular quiz nights and acoustic nights on Wednesdays.

THE WALK CAFE (12 Bridlesmith Walk, Nottingham NG1 2GR)
The Walk is always popular but the queues for tables are worth it the the tasty cupcakes and afternoon tea served in old china teapots arrive!


THE ALLEY CAFE BAR (Cannon Court, Long Row West, Nottingham, NG1 6JE)
Quite hard to find as it is literally up an alley off the Market Square, the Alley Cafe has a long list of vegetarian and vegan meals and sandwiches on its menu. Can get quite busy during the weekends due to its size but worth a visit, and opens late with DJs playing on Thursday-Saturdays.

SQUEEK (23-25 Heathcoat St, Nottingham, NG1 3AG)
This restaurant, catering for veggies and vegans, has regularly changing menus with 4 or 5 choices and is a hit with veggies and meat eaters alike.

THE BROADWAY CAFE BAR (14 – 18 Broad Street; Nottingham; NG1 3AL)
I put this under the vegetarian section as it always has tasty veggie/vegan choices on the menu, but all the food on offer is brilliant and changes nightly. Menu includes pizza, tapas and tasty halloumi baguettes.


Any visitor to Nottingham should make sure they have a pint at Ye Olde Trip, situated at the bottom of the hill leading up to the Castle. The pub claims to be the oldest in the world, dating back to 1189AD.

THE MALT CROSS (16 St James St, Nottingham)
This cafe bar is situated in an old Victorian Music Hall which makes it a lovely location for a drink, meal or to watch live music.

THE ORANGE TREE (Shakespeare St, Nottingham)
A lively pub serving lovely cocktails, with live music every 1st Saturday of the month.


THE CASTLE Friar Lane (Off Maid Marion Way)
The Castle is now a 17th century mansion built on the foundations of the original Medieval castle, with spectacular views across the city. Inside there is an art gallery and museum where you can learn about the history of Nottingham.

This windmill is a short walk from the city centre, and includes a science centre where you can learn about the mathematician who started the Mill, George Green and also buy flour made in the windmill itself.

The hall is a fine Elizabethan Mansion which stands on acres of parkland in which deer freely roam. Great place to fly a kite!

BROADWAY CINEMA (14-18 Broad St Nottingham)
The Broadway is the East Midlands’ flagship cinema and media centre, showing a wide variety of independent and foreign films. Fashion designer Paul Smith designed the chairs in one screen room in his iconic stripey material.

NOTTINGHAM CONTEMPORARY (Weekday Cross, Nottingham NG1 2GB)
Opening Hours:Tuesday – Friday 10am – 7pm, Bank Holidays and Saturdays 10am – 6pm, Sunday 11am – 5pm, Closed on Mondays

This brand new gallery situated in the heart of the Lace Market has been extremely popular since its opening exhibition. Check their website for current exhibitions.

Suggested For You


  • How nice to see my home town! I feel quite misty eyed. What a lovely feature. Thanks!
    Jane Buck – Foxy & Winston

  • My fiance moved to Nottingham in June and having had to go down most weekends (including the one coming up) from Scotland I have been desperate to find some crafty haunts and this guide is perfect! If only I’d had one sooner. Thanks Laura, you’re a star!

  • Love the guide and agree with all. Originally from the area, I miss Nottingham’s shopping. Although I will be back there this Friday for a shopping expedition and lunching with friends. Can’t wait!
    The Tokenhouse is a MUST for stocking up on the greetings cards!

  • I am so glad to see this guide ! My boyfriend is a huge Nottingham Forest fan, i flew there twice to see a match and this guide would have been a real treat, i think i am going to be a sweet girlfriend and suggest going again :) so that i can discover these shops !

  • I currently live and work in a specialist deli in Nottingham which i’d like to add to the list: General Store in Sherwood. While it’s not local, it’s well worth the little bus ride out. It sells specialist coffees, teas, infusions and chocolates. It’s a very tactile environment where you’re welcomed to pick up jars of beans and give them a sniff before buying them. You can also sup away! http://www.periodlife.com

    I also heavily endorse Broadway and The Alley Cafe – they’re lovely little places to visit for munch. I would also recommend SQUEEK {a vegan/veggie restaurant}, their amazing grub and retro cushions!

    Thanks so much for this Nottingham guide!!

  • Ohhhhh! My hometown, birthplace, where my heart lives! Sigh. I now live on the other side of the world, but I’m going to love this virtual shopping tour, and will show my Mum asap. I can remember standing next to Robin to have my picture taken as a wee nipper, and again when I returned as an adult. Thanks designsponge!

  • Good guide but you forgot about Kathleen N Lily’s – http://www.kathleenandlilys.co.uk – in the Vintage bit. They sell all sorts of wonderful clothes as well as jewellery, knick knacks and creations from some of Nottingham’s best designers and artists. They’re on Mansfield Road near the brilliant Anarchy Records and vegetarian Dotty’s Cafe…and tons of other great shops and pubs. Well worth checking out!

  • In 2005 I lived and studied in Nottingham for a few months, gosh i loved it. This city is really ALIVE! I recognice a lot of the shops and cafees you recommanded. It is really nice to think back at it.
    Thanks a lot for this lovely tour!
    Ellen from Belgium

  • Glad to bring back some memories! There are a few new places popping up. Dotty’s on Mansfield Rd is indeed a lovely veggie cafe run by very friendly staff. Also good to check out is the Hand in Heart Gallery and pub on Derby Rd. The gallery runs a fun drawing club every Tuesday eve! And the pub features some great caves!

  • Yay! You mentioned all my favourite places/ shops in Nottingham. I’d like to add that Mansfield Rd also has some great pubs and music venues – The Peacock, The Golden Fleece, The Hard to Find and The Maze. And The Dragon off Market Square is also very friendly and great for a drink in the week after work!

  • Hello, i’m a new student in Nottingham and have been hoping to come across a few good little vintage shops and veggie cafes to spend my student loan in.
    This guide was brillaint, i’m quite excited to come across these little gold mines,
    Many Thanks!

  • For a special treat, you must have a cocktail in Chino Latino in the Park Plaza Hotel. Lunch there is a real treat!! and the staff are really friendly! you must try their Margaritas and Mojitos!
    Jason makes the best.
    Thanks for all your tips

  • u must visit the vintage warehouse in lower parliament street!they have a huge amount of vintage clothes shoes bags suitcases childrens everything!!you do haveto rummage through some piles of clothes but thats part of the fun you don’t know what u may unearth!give yourself plenty of time when u visit cos there is so much to see don’t forget to look upwards as there is some fantastic stuff hanging from the rafters.the lads who own the place are very friendly and helpful they will try their best to get u what u are looking for always ask if u can’t see it they have so much stuff they can’t display it all.the prices are really good too.they can even arrange alterations.you can’t go wrong!new stuff is coming in constantly so keep calling in theres always something different to see.bet u never through all the piles of stuff!!

  • I lived in nottingham for 3 years and loved it! Always have to go back to do some shopping!. Just like to add to the vintage clothing section. My fav shop called Cow its in the hockley area of town and has a massive selection of vintage wares. Another great eating place is Homemade which is just up the hill from zara on the way to hockley. Also great place in the evening is The Bodega Social club formely called the social. Spent alot of my uni time in there!!

  • You’re right on the money with these suggestions – I just want to add another place to eat, have coffee, hang out, which is the Jam Cafe in Heathcote Street (next street down from the Broadway Cinema, in Hockley). There’s also Paramount Picture Framing, good for retro artwork, and a really good Chinese supermarket a couple of doors down.

  • My husband and I lived in Nottingham from 2005-2007. Reading about all of the shops, restaurants, etc. has made me homesick for my ‘second home’ (first home is in Indiana). I used to spend hours browsing in The Tokenhouse. I found the best tealight candles there (St. Eval). They are so wonderful that I have been rationing my last two packages since I moved back to Indiana. Two of my other favorite spots were Joy shop on Trinity Walk and Delilah fine foods on Middle Pavement. Joy has unique and vintage gifts. Delilah is a great spot for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The daily grill specials are delicious! We used to buy the Guinness Stilton Pate from their deli and spread it on warm sourdough bread…so good!

  • I spent the entire day in Nottingham yesterday, with nothing in my hand but a scribbled version of this guide. What a day! I bought the most precious owl cushion from Atomic, found the best pair of vintage brogues for 4 pound in a second hand store and raided the vintage warehouse. Thanks heaps for making my day a shopping treasure hunt!

  • Leah-Jane – yay! I’m so glad the guide came in helpful! Will have to have a look at those owl cushions!

  • I am NY-er who used to live there. I absolutely love the city of Nottingham. One of my favorite places ever. Great entry.

  • How fun, I think I’ll have to go back there with new eyes! My Mum’s from Notts and my boyfriend went to uni there so I always seem to see it from their perspectives…

  • Genius guide – loads of genuinely brilliant places. Might I venture to add Tilt as an off the beaten track venue for the evening? Best cocktail bar I’ve found. Very snug, they play blues & jazz in the background and have regularly got live music. If you’re lucky they might serve your cocktail up in a jam jar.