More often than not the best things in life take a bit longer to discover, and it is certainly something to keep in mind when getting to know a city. While Nottingham is splendidly compact to get around, if you roam a little beyond the bustle of the main city streets you’ll find a true taste of Nottingham’s character. Hiding within retro shopping arcades, peaceful courtyards, inconspicuous alleys (or twitchells if you want to learn the local dialect!) there is a spectacular array of niche, independent businesses all ripe for discovery.
These ventures are lovingly began by locals, who hold a true passion and knowledge of their trade. Offering expert advice, handpicked goods that you won’t find elsewhere, and a personal touch to style and scenery, the evident care and consideration of an independent business makes them a much more delightful shopping experience.
This week sees the launch of a new Independent Hidden Shopping Trail for Nottingham, which literally puts the best areas to spot indie shops on the map, along with providing a dash of history and some fantastic graphics to represent Nottingham landmarks. Available in good old paper and ink from Nottingham Tourism Centre, you can also log on via your mobile to get an idea of the route before starting and be guided with handy GPS.
Overall the tour takes 3-4 hours, although this is dependent on how long you spend shopping in each place! We had a wander round using the app to check out what was on offer and pick out our favourite spots…
H O C K L E Y
Hockley, the heart of independent shopping in Nottingham, almost needs no introduction, but there is always something new to check out. Since it opened in 2015 Cobden Chambers has become a true asset to Nottingham, not only for its serene courtyard and great selection of independent shopping, but also for the creative happenings in Cobden Place, which stands at the far end of the courtyard and is home to many creative start-ups.
T H E L A C E M A R K E T
With its towering red brick buildings, The Lace Market is a lovely place for a wander, and its shops unobtrusively blend into the architecture. Visiting lace and craft haven Debbie Bryan Studio (winner of Nottingham BID Independent Shopping Award 2017) is a must for its artisan products and delicious cream teas, as is Behind The Red Door (opposite Nottingham Contemporary) which is one of the best spots to buy chic gifts and greeting cards.
B R O A D M A R S H
Just around the corner, the redevelopment of the upper mall has given the intu Broadmarsh a great lease of life. This isn’t your average shopping centre. Instead it houses modern independent businesses from local crafts to Apple repair wizards. Have a spare hour? We highly recommend dipping into Nottingham’s unusual history at Nottingham City of Caves tour, located on the first floor.
B R I D L E S M I T H G A T E
You might just miss Bridlesmith Walk if you’re not paying attention, but it’s a great secret shortcut hosting some retail treasures. Find a vintage tearoom, two very different bars, and a beauty parlour. We recommend dropping into Stick and Ribbon, an award-winning boutique which offers chic, quality ladieswear, style consultations, and of course excellent service.
F L Y I N G H O R S E W A L K
You might not guess when strolling through Flying Horse Walk that it began existence as a maze-like tavern over five hundred years ago. Now one of the most elegant arcades in the city, you’ll find designer shops, modern art galleries, craft beer and cheese. Look up to admire the skylights and decorative murals on the ceiling!
S T J A M E S ‘ S S T
While the hub of St James’s Street is undoubtedly The Malt Cross – a Victorian music hall with a gallery, bar, and network of caves beneath – there are also some fabulously creative shops and businesses. We particularly love the concept of Dukki, a local gift shop that lovingly plays on Nottingham culture with chirpy phrases and our favourite folklore. It’s not often you get a touristic shop that attracts locals themselves, but Dukki is popular with the familiar and new to Nottingham.
D E R B Y R O A D
If you enjoy the temptation of filling your house with beautiful, eclectic objects, then you will love Derby Road. Shops such as The Worm That Turned, Le Chien Et Moi, Focus Gallery and Hung Up offer a mix of intriguing vintage, stylish garden and homewares and street art to adorn your walls. A great spot to stop for a refreshing drink or hearty meal after all your exploring, there are also some smashing pubs along the road, namely the cosy Hand In Heart and The Sir John Borlase Warren which boasts a lush beer garden.
W E S T E N D A R C A D E
H U R T S Y A R D
Next on the trail are West End Arcade and Hurts Yard, a stone’s throw from the market square but each removed in a slightly too cool for convention kind of way. We love the retro style of West End Arcade and there’s always chance for a good rummage through records, book and second hand clothing. Hurts Yard meanwhile has a Diagon Alley-esque charm, with its cobbled tiles and varied mingle of businesses, and is a cracking place for an authentic tequila or craft beer.
K I N G S & T R I N I T Y W A L K S
It’s easy to rush through the twin streets of Kings and Trinity Walks without checking out what they have to offer, but slow down and you’ll notice they house a collection of boutiques, cafes, of individual businesses. Some lie below or above street level so its useful to have a good look around!