Get to know Hockley: the coolest neighbourhood in Nottingham

  • City guides
3 min read
Alice Ostapjuk

Dubbed ‘the Soho of Nottingham’, Hockley is slap bang in the heart of Nottingham’s Creative Quarter and just a 15 minute walk from our Nottingham Aparthotel. This awesome area is overflowing with colourful street art, independent businesses, and community spirit.

Throughout the year Hockley hosts festivals like Nottingham Pride and music festival, the Hockley Hustle. But creativity is nothing new to the area, from the late 18th century Hockley was key to the city’s lace production.

And now, down to business, here are the coolest places to check out in Nottingham’s hippest neighbourhood:

Things to do:

Catch an indie film at Broadway Cinema

Independent and proud, Broadway Cinema shows indie films from all over the globe. Amongst numerous movies that you definitely won’t see anywhere else in Nottingham, they screen a sprinkling of mainstream stuff too. But what makes Broadway unique is their Paul Smith designed screen four, the only one of its kind in the country.

Grab your tickets and head down below ground level to check out this hidden gem, which was originally designed in 2006. You’ll emerge into the screen room (which is classic Paul Smith with purple walls and multi-coloured, striped sofas) through a tunnel-like space with a wall paved in picture frames, showing images from iconic films like Star Wars and old, black and white films. Don’t miss the chance to ogle Nottingham native, Paul’s autograph on the wall in here either!

One of the things we love most about Broadway is their Hockley-esque (we’re coining that term!) inclusivity, there are regular screenings to suit a variety of needs and audio descriptions available too. The cinema also hosts Mayhem Film Festival in October each year and Q&A events with directors and producers on a regular basis.

Listen to unsigned artists at Jam Café

Ten years young and there’s a reason why Jam Café has made it this far. The driving forces behind this cool bar are live music, great craft beer and freshly roasted coffee (Jam Café is supplied by local roastery Stewarts of Trent Bridge)…oh…and this lovely chap called Bradley Rice, who owns the place.

Jam Café is fiercely independent. From their ‘no big brands’ motto when it comes to their ever changing selection of bevvies, to the way that Bradley champions up and coming artists – in his words “everyone gets a chance, as long as the music’s friendly”. And music really is the life blood of this place with open mic nights every Wednesday, Jam sessions on Thursdays, acoustic gigs most Mondays and full bands some Fridays. Bonus: gigs are usually free.

All about that DJ set? Then we’d recommend checking out Jam Café’s most popular night, Tropical Beats, which happens every second Saturday of the month. Expect cool music from hot places like Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa. Feeling peckish after all that partying? Well hang on right there, order some of the tastiest Chinese in town from over the road at U Canteen and they’ll bring it across for you – that’s how they roll in Hockley!

Hit up Rough Trade

First things first, draw that red curtain back and create a quirky memento of your trip in the photo booth at the entrance. Beyond the black painted, brick exterior with big arched windows, lies a music lover’s haven. By day Rough Trade sells vinyl and CDs from all genres in their huge store. You could easily spend an hour browsing amongst the shelves, made from chipboard, pallets and beer kegs. If you’re not looking for anything specific, we’d suggest starting with the key releases wall.

And by night you can grab a pint in the gig space upstairs and get back to Rough Trade’s rock ‘n’ Roll roots. There’s often something going on, whether it’s live music or a signing, and the venue has a welcoming atmosphere that would make anyone, muso or not, feel at home. This is one of only four renowned Rough Trade stores in the UK so don’t pass up the opportunity to drop in!

Best coffee:


This independent was the first speciality coffee shop to pop up in Nottingham. And not only is this outfit speciality, it’s pretty special too. Wired is all about togetherness and we’re not just talking people, we’re talking coffee as well. Wired brings together the Antipodean coffee scene with that of East London and Nottingham. And it’s Allpress coffee all the way. Originating in New Zealand, Allpress now roast in Shoreditch (where owner, Très, was travelling for her coffee until opening up the shop!).

Don’t be shy when it comes to ordering, the staff are cool with the specifics or happy to advise if you’re feeling daunted (because let’s face it, we’re not all coffee nerds). Kick back with your ultimate cuppa and admire the dream-like wall mural, created by regular customer Ongab. Remember what we were saying about togetherness? Well the mural came out of a conversation between Très and Ongab over a coffee.

The focaccia sandwiches are well worth sampling too. The delicious herb focaccia is delivered fresh every day from local artisan bakery, The Welbeck Bakehouse. Have yours filled with roasted peppers and warm houmous or chicken and pesto. If you’re only in it for the coffee then a short, long black would be the one to go for.

Places to nosh:

Oscar and Rosie’s

It’s been said before and we’ll say it again – Oscar and Rosie’s serves up the best pizza in Nottingham, hands down. The (not so!) secret is the ingredients – the chef uses restaurant quality toppings to take the humble pizza to the next level, and the results are mind blowing. The peach and prosciutto pizza with fresh basil had us at hello and the twice cooked potato wedges with rosemary and paprika were worth writing home about too.

Hats off to anyone plucky enough to tackle Oscar and Rosie’s pizza by the meter – it’s infamous in the area. Choose up to two pizzas per meter from the normal menu and dig in! If you’re lucky you might be served by the charming Olly, the owner, who loves Hockley almost as much as he loves pizza.

When it comes to décor, this place takes the oh-so-popular industrial route but Olly adds his own twist with Private Eye covers papering one wall and some colourful ‘classic Hockley’ graffiti about the place. You can thank us later for pointing this place out.

Sexy Mamma Loves Spaghetti

Ask any local where to eat in Hockley and they’ll tell you that this exquisite Italian is the place to go. Small, cosy, and dimly lit with fairy lights, Sexy Mamma have got romantic down to a tee but not in a cheesy way at all. We particularly appreciate the garlands of dried pepper and olive foliage in the window. They’ve got the contemporary classic vibe nailed: the playlist is easy listening yet hip, the waiters wear waistcoats and the menu is handwritten but presented on a slate clipboard.

The food is ridiculously flavourful, portions are big and the prices are insanely reasonable when you think about the quality of your meal. The menu changes every day and there’s no chance of booking online – Sexy Mamma don’t do the internet but trust us, this place is an absolute gem. We gorged on an asparagus and baby leaf spinach risotto. The rice had the perfect amount of bite and we’re drooling a little bit just thinking about it.

Feeling thirsty?

Lost Property

It all starts with a few simple words – “are you lost, do you want to be?” and our answer to that question is “why the hell not?” Cue wandering down a corridor wondering what’s coming next…a lost property office…ok… Grab the golden skull handle which is squeezed in between the stacks of old suitcases and enter a topsy-turvy world. Congrats – you’ve found Lost Property, our favourite secret cocktail bar in Hockley.

The devil is in the detail here, the interior is witty and exceptionally creative. There are keys and bird cages hanging from the elaborate baroque-style ceiling, and more stacks of suitcases with things like lost shoes falling out of them. Doors look like tall chests of drawers, the bar top is covered in one pence coins and there are luggage tags on the walls – you get the gist – we’re obsessed.

And the creative flair doesn’t stop there. The cocktail menu is filled with lust-worthy flavour combinations and stowed in a folder, marked ‘Lost Property’. You’ve got to try the Lost Child cocktail with its foamy top and bitter citric flavours…and to please your inner Peter Pan (as if you weren’t already), it’s topped with two jelly babies.


We love a good secret bar so here’s another for your list. Walk into the last place you’d expect to get a drink – a boiler shop on Carlton Street. Inside the stark ‘shop’, with combi boilers mounted on the walls, you’ll find a bouncer behind a counter. He’ll radio you through to the main bar and you’re on your own from there. Don’t be alarmed if you think you’ve walked into a staff toilet, you’re on the right track!

Once you’re seated (it’s table service only but you don’t need to tell us twice to sit down), you’d hardly know you weren’t in any other bar…that is until you order… The menu looks like an instruction manual and the cocktail names are hilariously punny (see what we did there?). The Bloody Millennial Mary contains avocado of course! Boilermaker are into making things complicated, they say so themselves, and we kind of love them for it. The sangria inspired Who Don’t Need No Man’zanilla, comes on ice, in a bottle, inside a sushi box, for you to pour it into your glass. Hats off guys!

Shops to splurge in:

Cobden Chambers

The artsy courtyard that unites the independents of Cobden Chambers is tucked away off the beaten track. At first it can be hard to find but this shopping hub is completely worth scouting out so stick at it. The shop fronts are painted in pastel shades and the adjacent wall is covered in street art. We love the reclaimed by nature theme of the art, snails have cities on their backs and flying insects are carrying ships. If you happen to stumble across a makers market or some street food in the courtyard, that’s a bonus.

Our top shops here are Forever Records, Ideas on Paper and Keishi Jewellery. Forever is a trendy little record shop selling alternative vinyl. Pop in to play a retro video game on their arcade machine and discover your next favourite album. Ideas on Paper is the coolest bookshop about and Keishi stock their own contemporary, fine jewellery alongside independent designers like Jenny Bird who seriously owns modern, statement pieces.

Once you’re seated (it’s table service only but you don’t need to tell us twice to sit down), you’d hardly know you weren’t in any other bar…that is until you order… The menu looks like an instruction manual and the cocktail names are hilariously punny (see what we did there?). The Bloody Millennial Mary contains avocado of course! Boilermaker are into making things complicated, they say so themselves, and we kind of love them for it. The sangria inspired Who Don’t Need No Man’zanilla, comes on ice, in a bottle, inside a sushi box, for you to pour it into your glass. Hats off guys!


Calling all bookworms – this shop is your jam! Bookwise is packed with like-new, second hand books. And there’s literally something for every age and every interest. Cookery, sport, study books, fantasy, non-fiction, biographies, crafts, poetry, classics – you can get it all in this marvel of a shop. There are some beautiful old editions to buy too.

Bookwise also dabble in music. Have a rummage through their sheet music, which is organised by instrument, and see what you can find. We even spotted some full orchestral scores and a selection of classical CDs. The shop is well laid out and really easy to browse, despite being packed to the rafters with books. And in true Hockley spirit, Bookwise support the charity Music for Everyone through their sales.

Wild Clothing

No, you’re not going crazy, Wild Clothing does look like a Coca Cola store when you catch sight of the shop out of the corner of your eye. It’s the red front and suspiciously similar font (but we love that rebel attitude). As you set foot over the threshold, most probably following a clan of local cool cats, you’re met by a rainbow of beanie hats that set the tone for the rest of this vibrant vintage shop.

Peruse men’s or women’s over two floors and get your fill of camo tees, vintage Levi jeans, Tommy Hilfiger plaid shirts and tropical patterned shirts and dresses. There’s always an interesting pre-loved piece to be found, like the chunkiest pair of docs you’ve ever seen, and some new items too, like Dickies tees and hoodies. Soak up that musty vintage shop ambience as you browse.

Can you tell that our love for Hockley is strong? If Hockley has you at hello be sure to share your snaps with us on Instagram, by tagging #Roomzzz, for a chance to win a free night’s stay at any Roomzzz Aparthotel. Check availability at Roomzzz Nottingham, here.

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