TRAVEL GUIDE: Nottingham
Recently Sunday Life teamed up with bmibaby to offer one lucky family the chance to win an exciting break to Nottingham and review their time in a city renowned for its vibrancy and infamous Robin Hood legacy. The Salt family from Dungannon — Donna, Wendy, Ryan and Emma Salt — won the prize. Here’s how they got on...
Leaving Belfast International Airport on a flight with bmibaby, we set off on the 40-minute flight to the East Midlands Airport on what was to be the hottest spell of weather this year. Once we arrived, we took the handy Skylink airport shuttle bus into the city centre which was very reasonably priced at £10 return for all of us and the city centre stop was just around the corner from our accommodation at the 4-star Park Plaza Hotel.
The Park Plaza was absolutely beautiful inside and our interconnecting rooms were comfortable, spacious and perfect for our family of four. Both our rooms offered fantastic views across the city centre.
Our first move was to tuck into a delicious al fresco lunch in Old Market Square, an area designed around a lido-type pool and fountains with a backdrop of the huge clock tower of The Exchange Building. On this occasion the tower was decorated with an enormous England flag (erected for the World Cup) and the atmosphere in the area was truly electric. Once fed and watered, we couldn’t wait to explore the city. We decided to visit Nottingham Castle first, not the medieval castle of Robin Hood’s time but a glorious mansion just five minutes’ walk from our hotel. The kids loved the Robin Hood statue at the entrance to the castle, which proved popular for tourists to photograph and we were all delighted when we found out our family ticket to the castle gave us access to a special exhibition of costumes and props from the new Ridley Scott film, Robin Hood. Our ticket also included entrance into the Museum of Nottingham Life at Brewhouse Yard, a quaint red brick building transporting you back to life in Nottingham city in the 1930s. The rooms were each set as individual shops including a grocer’s, pharmacist’s, cobbler’s and we were all fascinated by the things we saw there. Some of the items seemed so strange compared to the modern conveniences we all take for granted now. After the museum we took a leisurely stroll around the Victorian style gardens in the grounds of the castle. The perfect end to the perfect day!
After a comfortable night’s sleep our breakfast was served in the hotel’s award-winning Chino Latino Restaurant. The buffet offered a vast array of everything you could think of eating for breakfast or indeed brunch as the food was available until noon. Today we decided to indulge in some retail therapy and during our walk into town the kids noticed plenty of evidence of Robin Hood with street names like Friar Lane, Sheriffs Way and Maid Marion Way. We were amazed at the vast range of shops on offer from the usual high street stores to designer boutiques.
With two large shopping malls, the Victoria Centre and the Broadmarsh Centre, and loads of quaint little shops lining the cobbled streets around the area, the females among us were utterly delighted with the retail haven we’d stumbled on and spent most of the day there.
Ryan, the only male in the group, had to be pacified with a promise to watch Robin Hood in Cineworld. His visit to the exhibition had left him wanting to see the costumes in action and we felt what better place to watch the epic than Nottingham? So that night we visited Cineworld, an impressive 14-screen cinema situated at The Cornerhouse on Forman Street, which was a hive of activity over the weekend.
The weekend was over far too soon and we had to return to the airport and head back home. If we’d been able to stay longer we would have made sure to venture out from the main city centre on a trip to Sherwood Forest but we had to leave that for another occasion. We all had an excellent time in Nottingham and would thoroughly recommend it to any family for a weekend break — but we can’t guarantee that the weather will be as kind to them as it was to us for our fabulous weekend!