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Lost City

10 Best Hidden Bars in Nottingham

20 October 17 words: Tamsin Parnell

What's better than a good owd bar? A hidden bar, apparently. Notts can't seem to get enough of 'em...

This place has the most unconventional entrance to a bar in Notts. Although it looks like there’s an epidemic of faulty boilers in our city, the queue of locals streaming out of 36 Carlton Street on a Saturday night is actually a sign of quirky drinks and great table service. You might have to trek through a broom cupboard to get in, but once you’re there, you’ll be drinking cocktails out of Rice Krispies boxes and all sorts.

The Secret Garden
The new kid on the block. The Secret Garden only opened in July, which means you’ve got a chance to impress if you suggest it to your pals first. Hidden off Trinity Square, this cosy rooftop beer garden seats 50 in its deck chairs and garden benches. Offering jugs of Pimms and four beers on tap, it’s great for the three or four sunny days we get a year. Rumour has it the loo’s in a garden shed...

The Herbert Kilpin
Unlike some of Notts’ hidden bars, secrecy isn’t the selling point of the Herbert Kilpin. Still, it’s outta view on Bridlesmith Walk. There’s a load of draught beers to try here, including the Kilpin Pale Ale Black Iris at £3.70 a pint. If you’re not into beer, there are wines and aperitivo cocktails too. With candle-lit tables, this one’s a winner if you’re looking for a place to bring a date.

There’s no better duo than cocktails and wings, which is probably why there are two successful Bunk bars in Nottingham. With red lights in the window, the bar clearly isn’t supposed to be hidden, but like The Herbert Kilpin, its Lace Market branch still isn’t easy to find. If you’re looking for somewhere quiet with vintage vibes and a reasonable price tag, Bunk tops the list – its house cocktails start at around £5.50, but you can bag a select few for just £4.50 if yer get there before 10pm.

Coco Tang
If you’ve never been here, it’s probably because you’ve never figured out where the bleddy hell it is. Not surprising, since the only sign that it’s not a fire exit is the red lantern hanging above the doorway. Coco Tang has a cocktail for everyone, whether you’re feeling like a ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’, or you’re hankering after some Parma Violets. Pick the right drink and you might even get a sweet treat on the side.

Pepper Rocks
This one’s a favourite with anyone looking for a quiet drink, which means that it can get a bit packed on a weekend, even on the terrace. It’s hidden down on Bridlesmith Gate and is given away by the white van selling hotdogs outside. Like Bunk, Pepper Rocks can be dead cheap, and it doesn’t matter what day you’re out, if you get there before 10pm, you’ll get cocktails for £4.50

Squirrelled away on Pelham Street, Tilt’s easy to miss. It has the best atmosphere of all of Notts’ hidden bars – although it’s a bit cramped when the live music begins. The blues tunes offer a relaxing vibe that you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else in the city. Better still, they’ve got some original cocktails; if you’re feeling brave after a few drinks, try the Chilli Dipper Martini, which contains chilli and lemon-infused Vodka. 

We’re spoilt for choice with cocktail bars in Notts, but that doesn’t mean you’re forgotten if you’re not a cocktail drinker. Junkyard, next-door neighbour to the Lace Market’s Herbert Kilpin, offers fifteen different beers on tap. The place is so dedicated to serving beer aficionados that they’ve even set up their own beer club. You can join the Nottingham Growlers for 15 quid, which’ll get your your own limited-edition jug and a 25% discount when you bring it along.

If you like the sound of Junkyard, you’ll also love BrewDog. Specialising in craft beers, Brewdog offers fourteen draught beers and over a hundred bottled beers. Like many bars in Notts, it rocks a vintage vibe with exposed brick walls, reflecting its location in a previously abandoned factory building. It also offers board games and snacks, which makes it the perfect place to have a relaxed night and a good old chat with your pals.

Hockley Arts Club
To say it’s so well hidden, Hockley Arts Club is pretty bleddy big. Spread across three floors, it’s an eclectic mix of fluorescently lit hipster sayings like ‘tomorrow is here’, and old-fashioned leather armchairs. In other words, it’s the perfect haunt for an Instagram picture that makes you look well edgy. It’s also got the quirkiest, artsiest cocktails in Notts - there’s even a chance your drink will have an ice lolly thrown in the mix.

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