A prize winning city made for a perfect bank holiday
Last year we teamed up with Nottingham Contemporary to run the Aquatopia competition which gave one lucky person the chance to spend a weekend in Nottingham. In this guest blog our winner Sally writes about her stay.
After an amazingly easy commute from the South Essex coast, we arrived in Nottingham, hot and bothered, at around lunch time Saturday. The sat-nav guided us to Hart’s Hotel away at the top of the Castle Quarter. Although we were early for check in, this did not present a problem and we were soon relaxing in our small but beautifully designed, comfortable room overlooking the front courtyard.
We were soon off to explore the town and meet our daughter from the station, dragging her away from the final throes of her dissertation for a pizza and drink.
The immediate thing that struck us both of us was how diverse this city is with some fine new architecture blending in with lovely historic buildings everywhere. The mapping and signing system for pedestrians made having a look around very easy and pleasant.
Shopping opportunities were far too abundant for my husband’s liking, but luckily there were street performers who made it all tolerable for him. We quickly located the Caves and The Galleries of Justice which we were visiting over the next few days, of which more later. There was so much more to see, the main square fountain full of children playing happily, metres away from an open air market and just yards away again from the Council House, where weddings were taking place.
We spent some time just soaking up the atmosphere of this truly cosmopolitan environment on a beautiful sunny day.
After meeting our daughter at the station, we had coffee and decided to explore the options for pizza. There were many outlets, not only for pizza but Lebanese, Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Mexican – well, you get my drift. There is also the oldest pub in England, Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, and many other quaint pubs and ‘on trend’ bars.
Following far too much food and a few drinks, we walked our daughter back to the station, waved goodbye and started back up the hill to the hotel – more exercise than we’d both had in ages! – leaving us ready for an early night with a bit of TV a glass of wine from the mini-bar before a very sound sleep.
Hart’s Hotel served a very comprehensive breakfast that was absolutely delicious and a great start to the morning. We wandered off early to see the Caves. The caves under a shopping centre were very interesting with the tales of their history very well told by our young guide.
Back to Hart’s Hotel for another delicious meal: Sunday lunch. Really fine cooking was accompanied by a very pleasant bottle of Argentinean Malbec, before a traditional Sunday afternoon flop with a good book.
Monday, our final day, saw us visiting the really amazing Galleries of Justice. Actors are allocated the task of tour guiding this first rate attraction. By the time we emerged some two hours later, I was very relieved that, in reality, I hadn’t been a naughty girl after all. The Sheriff in particular was so convincing I felt I might actually have been transported back in time.
Back in the real world, a visit to Nottingham Contemporary is an absolute must; it’s thought provoking and full of a highly eclectic selection of beautifully presented modern art works. Having a very classy-looking gift shop, that my husband steered me firmly away from, and a café that we did not visit makes this a centre to be proud of.
Hart’s kindly allowed us to leave our car in their car park before our early afternoon departure. We had a great time and will not hesitate taking a short break here again.
My husband and I do not always share our taste in activities, but thank goodness he thoroughly enjoyed his stay too, notably his lunch at Hart’s which he said was ‘among the best meals’ he’d ever eaten.