A lively city with a winning mix of historic pubs, on-trend bars and some seriously good clubs, Nottingham comes alive after dark. Read on to discover our favourite pubs, clubs and bars in Nottingham.
Nightlife in Nottingham
To say that Nottingham takes its pubs very seriously is a bit of an understatement. With dozens of incredible pubs across the city dishing out craft ales, hand-pulled beers and more cider than you could shake an apple at, narrowing down the selection to these four was a tough process (hic!).
There’s no doubt about where you need to start your pub crawl, though. Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem is reputed to be the oldest watering hole in the UK, dating back to AD 1189. Built into the rock surrounding Nottingham Castle, the pub is famous for its caves and beer cellars carved out of soft sandstone. The rear room is the largest cavern, and dates back even further, to around 1068 when the castle was built. If that’s a little too claustrophobic for you, there’s a lovely beer garden at the front with great views of the castle. They stock an impressive range of real ales, as well as decent wine and gin menus, while their food spans everything from sandwiches to fancy hot dogs and burgers and their excellent Sunday roast. Plus, they have a souvenir shop, cave room and cellar tour if you want to extend your visit and make an afternoon or evening of it.
Another favourite is The Cross Keys. Dating back more than two hundred years, they have at least seven hand-pulled ales at any one time, as well as an extensive range of bottled beers, lagers and ciders from around the world. With images of local legend Brian Clough looking down from the walls, tuck in to something from their menu or head down for one of their theme nights including Monday pie night, Thursday steak night or even one of their regular gin parties.
Another truly old-fashioned boozer, The Peacock, opposite Victoria Centre, is a Victorian public house that focuses on the essentials: good food, good booze and good people. At the bar, choose from a wide range of cask ales, wine, spirits and teas and coffees, while they also offer a selection of pub grub classics or their innovative (in pub terms, at least) 100% vegan menu. Entertainment wise, they’ve opted for DJs playing funk, soul and disco vinyl, with no TVs or fruit machines in sight.
For something a little more modern, check out The Barrel Drop. A micropub that brews its own beer on site, it’s a small, atmospheric pub that attracts a loyal fan base. Nestled down a small alleyway in Hurts Yard just near Market Street, you’ll be rewarded with some excellent beers and a small games corner. And if you opt for the mango cider, you’ll discover a truly astonishing drink that is likely to live long in the memory.
Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem
Nottingham really comes alive on the weekends, with thousands descending on the city’s bars, pubs and clubs as soon as the sun sets (and often well before!). Don’t worry though, there are plenty of bar stools to go around. Not that you’ll find many when you first walk into Boilermaker. At first glance, it looks like a dilapidated boiler room sales area, but persevere and push through the door at the back and you’ll find a dimly lit, sofa-strewn drinking den and cocktail bar. The hidden entrance only adds to the excitement, while the cocktails – try the Mississippi malt shake – are truly some of the best in town with some excellent laugh-out-loud names and descriptions.
If Tequila is your tipple, head to 400 Rabbits. A dedicated Mezcaleria, they specialise in tequila and cocktails. Don’t just expect tequila slammers here though; the bar staff will explain the different varieties they stock and the varying tastes, and with more than 30 different tequilas, that’s going to take you some time. Thankfully, they have plenty of comfy seats and board games for your session.
For something a little more conventional, try Tilt in Pelham Street. Combining great cocktails with blues music and a speakeasy atmosphere, the bar is a great place to start your night especially during their 5pm–7pm happy hour. The bartenders will accommodate most tastes, while their impressive range of Bloody Marys will take the edge off the night before.
Rounding out our cocktail bar selection is the Be At One Cocktail Bar. The drinks are first-rate while the service is friendly and efficient, even on the weekends when it gets busy. A real draw though is that they offer cocktail-making lessons, where you get to go behind the bar and create your own concoctions. They’ll also reserve their private back room for special events – perfect if you’re celebrating a special event.
The Factory Lounge closes out our choices, and is the place to head for shisha in the city. Nottingham’s first shisha café, they offer a wide range of flavoured tobacco pipes as well as a good range of cakes and milkshakes. The bar isn’t licensed, but with great service and a wide range of flavours available – our pick is the frozen apple – it’s a great spot to catch up with friends.
With legendary clubs like The Bomb and Renaissance, Nottingham’s modern-day clubbing scene has a lot to live up to. Thankfully, it takes that responsibility in its stride, with Stealth leading the charge. A Midlands institution since 2004, it’s twice been voted as one of the best clubs in the world by industry bible DJ Magazine and plays a full spectrum of music across its dual-level dancefloor – if you’re into house, techno, drum and bass, grime, disco, hip hop and pretty much any other genre you can shake a tail feather to, then it’ll be on the decks at some point. They showcase up-and-coming DJs and labels too, as well as local talent, and the club has welcomed big names like Bicep and Andy C as well as hosting bigger names like Dizzee Rascal in the nearby Rock City.
While Stealth is for the dance music purist, you’ll find something for everyone at PRYZM. A six-room super club, the recently renovated space is the largest club in the city. Start your night at their Bavarian bier hall before heading upstairs to explore the vast space. Book a booth to get the full table-service experience, and your own bottle. Alternatively, queue up at any of the bars dotted around the place for cheap drinks (we’re talking £2.50 here) and plenty of atmosphere. Located just near the Victoria Centre, you’re right in the heart of town and just a short walk from our City Centre (Chapel Bar) hotel. Music-wise, expect chart, commercial classics and mainstream house music, with sporadic special guests.
Rounding out the selection is NG1, a 1,000-capacity space that encompasses four bars, three sound systems, two floors and one very, very late closing time – 7.30am for the brave or foolish! With regular tie-ups with global label Ministry of Sound as well as their own branded events, they play a wide range of music spanning hip hop, 90s RnB and house. With cheap drinks and the latest licence in Nottingham, NG1 is the place to go for a proper heads-down, hands-up dance floor session through into the next morning.