Nottingham isn’t anyone’s first choice when it comes to visiting England. It doesn’t have any of the hulking attractions of a bigger English city, or the extremely memorable history, but that didn’t stop me from bopping over to have a look at what resembles a smaller Dublin with more Brits in it while I was staying with friends in Clifton, fifteen minutes from the city centre.

My first day there consisted of killing time, so I wandered around the city searching desperately for the Old Market Square (it’s really big, I was just being stupid) and trying to find a food place that wasn’t a chain— I thought I found one with some absolutely bomb quesadillas but, it was also a chain. This was in the Victoria Centre, home of the Aqua Horological Titinabulator, or the Emett Clock, and where I bought Ariana Grande’s album and talked about it for ten minutes with the cashier. This led me to conclude that the people in Nottingham are 10/10. 

“It’s helpful to know a local, because a lot of the appeal is in the exciting discovery of these little alternative experiences which the residents obviously pride themselves on”

I had the dual advantage of having friends who 1) had lived in Nottingham long enough to be sick of the main attractions and b) aren’t into basic things like castles and “historical sites”. At one point we went to May Sum, a Chinese buffet with a stupidly extensive selection and after which I passed out for two hours. Thankfully I was resuscitated by going to Whittard, a hot chocolate nirvana. I’d noticed containers in my friends’ house of flavours like rocky road and blueberry cheesecake which warrant a thousand chef’s kisses, they were that beautiful, and the shop was heavenly, with freshly-made samples of white hot chocolate like liquid gold. Disclaimer: Whittard definitely isn’t unique to Nottingham but it was a core element of my experience there. If I want to have hot chocolate for breakfast instead of actual food that’s my business. 

“If it seems that all I did in Nottingham was food-related, that’s because it was”

We also went to the Kitty Café, which was such a trip. When I walked in it was your average blindingly colourful café full of easily-scalable wall fixtures and unreasonably chirpy waitresses wearing cat ears. It wasn’t until I sat down that I noticed the cats skulking around the floor and across high walkways, only because there were children chasing them around; at that point I could only think about how mad a dog café would be. It was cute, with decent food at reasonable prices, and cats. There was also a milkshake place called Cookie Shake with approximately a hell of a lot of flavours, which I didn’t try because I didn’t want to end up like the Gluttony victim in Se7en, and a sweet shop where we bought bars of boujee fudge. 

“There’s such a wide range of activities and tucked-away shops and eateries packed into this small, easily-explorable space”

If it seems that all I did in Nottingham was food-related, that’s because it was. That’s not to say that there isn’t a lot to do in Nottingham; there’s such a wide range of activities and tucked-away shops and eateries packed into this small, easily-explorable space. It’s helpful to know a local, because a lot of the appeal is in the exciting discovery of these little alternative experiences which the residents obviously pride themselves on. Also, the Forbidden Planet there is lit.