Hockley And Nottingham’s Lower East Side: An Adventurer’s Guide

Forget Nottingham’s town centre. Head for Hockley for what’s what. Well, that’s what STENCIL MD Andy Afford reckons anyway.

If you take the beautiful store front of Zara on the corner of High and Pelham Street as your starting point and head up the hill, away from Market Square, towards the Thurland Hotel, you’re starting what amounts to a journey into the city’s best and fastest-rising shopping, eating and drinking area.

Hockley has had an outsider/hipster vibe for as long as I can remember, but with the huge investment the city universities have made in student accommodation, and the lift in successful one-off businesses in the area, there now feels a real sense of confidence, purpose and permanence when taking ‘the up and down’ walk through the city’s independent quarter.

Wired, on the brow of the hill, serves world-class coffee, and Ugly Bread Bakery sells exactly what you’d expect, but it’s better looking and better tasting than they’re letting on. And whilst still ‘up top’,  clothes re-interpreter Cow is always worth a walk around. Offering tons of vintage denim and flannel. Ten more paces and Curious Tavern on George Street is well-worth a look.

Now on the down slope, walk past one excellent hairdresser and male-grooming shop after another – having already passed 28 Barbers (opposite the Thurland Hotel) until you see on the right-hand side Outpost Coffee. Always packed, the hot drinks never disappoint. The dilemma should be, do I go left towards the Broadway cinema, right, or head straight on, but it isn’t really that difficult a decision. The revamped Angel pub (to the right) is now an excellent watering hole, changing its proposition from down-and-out to down-with-the-kids. It serves excellent beer. Has good music and nice food. It’s perfect for a post-work pint.

But I digress, DON’T TURN RIGHT. Go straight ahead, passing Rough Trade on your left and White Rose, offering op-shop chic on the right. At the bottom of the hill, the Asiana Express lays any number of interesting packet and potted noodle options to take away and cook at home, and also does fantastic bubble tea – but only if you time it right and they’re cooking – and there’s Bunker’s Hill over the main road and around the corner. After finding itself in the past as a bit of an afterthought, the place has had a bit of an uplift in confidence and vibe on the back of piggybacking events at the Motorpoint Arena and an influx of people living and working in its vicinity.

Keeping moving, head over the way to Sneinton Market and take your pick of a slew of complimenting eating places. GB Café boshing out the very-best in all that’s bad for you. From excellent fry-ups and bacon cobs to cups of ‘splosh’ on the go. At the opposite end of that cafe continuum, Blend makes coffee every bit as good as shops name-checked up the hill, but in a bigger, even more comfortable space. The toasted sandwich are genuinely divine.

Finish at the Fox & Grapes at the back of Avenue B for a first-rate beer and tastefully refurb’d interior. And with Avenues D and E currently under renovation, it will only be a short time before the end of this up-and-down quarter-miler becomes the start.

But don’t just take my word for it, give it a whirl. Park up the back of Sneinton Market for two hours free, or make your way out of town at your leisure. Make it part of your weekend. This time next year, it’ll be standing room only round these parts.