If you’re a fan of Warhammer, the chances are that you’d like to one day make a pilgrimage to Warhammer World in Nottingham. Or, perhaps you’re a frequent visitor to the home of these particular toy soldiers, but even those people familiar with WHW, who feel like regulars when they stroll into Bugmans, may not know too much about the city to which you’re heading. That brings us to the theme of this article – a guide to Nottingham from someone who lives here – for those of you just visiting. Some handy advice, top tips, things to do and see, and more.
Oh, and I’m pretty sure that other people who live here will find something to disagree with me about, and if that’s you, meet me by the Left Lion at 5pm and tell me all about how I’m wrong (actually don’t because I won’t be there).
Getting To Warhammer World
Let’s get the basics out of the way. Warhammer World is based in a part of Nottingham called Lenton, which used to be famous for guns – it’s one of the areas (though not the most prodigious one) that helped earn the town the unflattering nickname of “Shottingham” back in the 90s, and Heckler & Koch have a factory there. Some people still think Nottingham is the gun crime capital of the UK and that’s simply not true – it’s a friendly, beautiful city with a lot going on (that being said, there are still some areas to avoid but Lenton really isn’t one of them – just stay out of St Ann’s and you’ll be fine).
Yes, you can simply put the address in your GPS and drive there, but you have other options too. If you’re staying in town, or arriving via the train station, you can take advantage of Nottingham’s legendary public transport by jumping on a tram, or you can get the bus. The Skylink bus that heads to East Midlands Airport (the closest airport to Nottingham) stops near Lenton Abbey (at Gregory Street) which is 5 minutes from Warhammer World, and departs from Friar Lane (not too far from the town’s other Warhammer store – yes, we have two). And jump on any Tram heading to Toton Lane from town, and you can jump off at the Gregory Street tram stop – you’ll go past WHW on the way and again, it’s about a five minute walk (slightly less).
If it’s a nice day, why not stroll along the canal instead? It’s actually quite pretty down there, and if you’re planning a day in the gaming hall, the fresh air here will help you get through the day. So you don’t have to drive at all! The buses are touch on/touch off, and you can get tickets for the tram at any stop, or by downloading the NetGo app.
What Else Is There In Lenton?
…not much. Lenton Abbey has some old ruins, and if you want a nearby pub, The Boat and the Johnson Arms (not named after Jervis Johnson) are your best bets. But Lenton doesn’t have much else to entertain you, so when you’re tired of Bugmans and the Gaming Hall, head back into town.
What To Eat
Nottingham has a wealth of food options so whatever you’ve got a craving for, you’ll be able to find something to sate you. After all, a man cannot live off Bugmans burgers alone (I know, I tried). You’ll find lots of the usuals that you get anywhere else, but here are a few places well worth your time:
Bunk – there are at least three Bunk restaurants in Nottingham (I’ve heard rumours of a 4th) and they all do excellent chicken wings, nuggets, hot dogs, and fancy cocktails. The dips for the wings are great, and the sides will have you bursting at the seams. They tend to be underground, so you can pretend it’s a Dwarf or Skaven wing joint if you prefer.
Oscar & Rosies – The best pizza in Nottingham can be found in the Lace Market (just over the road from one of the Bunks actually). Unique flavours in a unique setting – you’ll not want to eat pizza anywhere else again. Oh, and if you’re really hungry, the mac n cheese is excellent too.
Memsaab – Want a really posh curry? This will cost you a little more, but the food, service and setting at Memsaab are legendary, and it’s very popular with the locals too. Near the top of Maid Marian Way, it’s handy for anyone staying in town.
Annie’s Burger Shack – Whether you want a slap up US-style breakfast, or a bountiful burger in the evening, Annie’s is a Nottingham institution of which we’re all very fond. The wait for food can be long if it’s busy, but in my experience, it has always been worth it.
Fothergills – in the shadow of Nottingham’s “Castle”, this is particularly flavoursome pub grub, and they do nice beers too. It’s a pleasant setting, and for more regular pub grub, there are of course, more regular pubs aplenty.
Honourable mentions worth checking out: Kayal (Indian), Mowgli (Indian), Suede (pizza), 31K (tasty yet simple), Hockley Kitchen (breakfast/sandwiches), 13th Element (Vegan)
Where to Drink
Speaking of pubs, we do beer and drinking properly up here, so here are my Top 5 in Nottingham (not including Bugmans):
Jam Cafe – European style beer drinking and trendy kids boogying establishment with good tunes, and you can order in from the excellent Chinese over the street if you’re feeling peckish. Great beer selection too.
The Salutation / Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem / The Bell – Each one of these claims to be the oldest pub in England and each have their merit. The Sal is a haven for Metalheads and Alternative Music fans, The Trip has caves, swords and a haunted galleon, and the Bell is kind of a traditional boozer done nicely.
Junkyard/Herbert Kilpin – Hidden away from the hustle and bustle, these two places are actually sort of the same place – they even share front and rear gardens. Junkyard sells beers in 2/3rds of a pint, and will have 20 for you to sample, where as the Kilpin is more of a sports bar in pub-form but nicer.
The King Billy – Out of the way, but this is a lovely local with a hidden roof terrace, a pool table, and a secret pizza chef on the weekend, making it a thoroughly unique place. Classic ales, a slice of Nottingham life and plenty of comfy seats in a uniquely decorated setting.
Brewdog Nottingham – ok, so everywhere has a Brewdog now days, but I really like this one. It’s smaller than most, the team who run it are delightful, it’s in the heart of Hockley (Nottingham’s trendy bit) and they even do regular board games, blood bowl and DnD nights.
Also lovely to visit: The Canalhouse, The Navigation Inn, The Dragon, The Cock & Hoop, The Sir John Borlase Warren, and Tap House Notts.
And if you want to sample some of the local beers, Nottingham has some excellent breweries, big and small. Castle Rock (the big one) is by the station and has its own pub on the site of the actual brewery, and the smaller breweries like Liquid Light, Neon Raptor (one for you Seraphon fans), and Black Iris all have tap rooms worth a visit, with Liquid Light being particularly hospitable to smaller tabletop and board games .
Things To See
If the Exhibition hall at WHW isn’t enough entertainment for your brain, Nottingham has some excellent things to see and do too. The City of Caves takes you into Nottingham’s sprawling subterranean lair – the city is literally built on caves (which makes us all a bit nervous when we walk around). The “Castle” (which is really just a big house built on the site of the ancient castle – the folks round here like to burn it down every few hundred years) is full of history, lots of art, and some amazing views of the city – you can even see Warhammer World if you squint.
It can be worth checking out the Contemporary art gallery as they often have fun, albeit small exhibitions on throughout the year. You can take a trip out to Wollaton and see Wollaton Hall, most famous recently as Wayne Manor in Christopher Nolan’s Batman films, which has lots to do, see and enjoy. And if shopping is your thing, the aforementioned Hockley, and Sneinton Market are full of independent shops and unique places to splurge.
If you want some more games to play, we have both Ludorati and The Dice Cup – both are excellent board game cafes with big libraries, good food, and nice people. Also, for more hobby goodness, Element Games have a store in the city centre too.
You’ve also got Rock City for gigs, The Playhouse and The Theatre Royal for plays, the Victoria Centre for shopping, and there are some good walking tours of the city available too – be warned though, Nottingham is a town built on hills so expect some steep climbs.
If you’re looking for outdoor activities, heading over to University Park provides lots of grounds to enjoy, as well as a boating lake, crazy golf, and even croquet.
Where To Stay
This is a request common with the folks on Twitter, and while I’m not the best person to talk about where to stay in Nottingham as I live here (and no, you can’t stay with me), I shall give it a crack based on what I’ve heard from others who have visited.
The Premier Inn – relatively cheap, basic breakfast, basic rooms, and very close to Warhammer World, this is a favourite among the frequent visitors I know. Its proximity to Warhammer World (an easy walk to wake you up in the morning) makes it very popular though it is a little bit soulless.
The Ibis – Right in the heart of the city, this is a great location, and the tram stop outside will get you to Warhammer World in minutes, it’s not too dear either (sometimes). But if you’re staying over the weekend, be warned that it can be a little loud – very popular with Stags and Hens.
Roomzzz – Kind of like a mini apartment, this is a good option if you’re staying a couple of nights or more. Close to Rock City too, if you fancy an evening of Grunge and Metal. Can be reasonable, but not always.
The Jubilee Hotel – Again, out of town, but very pleasant and maybe a 15 minute walk from WHW. It’s part of a conference centre, and on the University of Nottingham’s Jubilee Campus, so there’s not much to do in the immediate vicinity, but certainly a very nice place to stay.
That’s all I got folks – if you know a better place to stay, stick something in the comments.
Nottingham-isms – The Local Lingo
Here are a few things you might hear in Nottingham that you might not hear anywhere else…
“Ay up, Miduck” – this isn’t as common as you’d think, but you do hear it occasionally. It’s nothing to do with waterfowl – this is just a traditional greeting up here. It’s like “what’s up, my duke?” and the “duke” part is meant as an affectionate compliment.
“Cob” – What you may call a bread roll, a bap, a barm cake, or a bun, people in Nottingham call a “cob”. So you might have a bacon cob for breakfast, for example.
“Tarrah then” – this means “Goodbye” here. Relatively common.
“Derby Road” – which is an actual road, not too far from WHW. But during the colder months, this is just rhyming slang for “it’s cold”. I’ve only heard it once, but I’m told it’s more common than that.
There’s loads more of course, but these are the common ones you’ll possibly run into on your visit.
Here are a few things that are worth knowing about that are quite singular or important to Nottingham culture. They might not come up on your trip, but if they do, at least you’ll know.
The Left Lion – As briefly mentioned above, the Left Lion is a statue outside the big council building (that locals call “The Council House”) that sits in the city centre. If you’re talking to a Nottingham person and arranging to meet later on, there is a good chance they’ll say “Meet you at the Left Lion”. It’s a tradition. Also, this is the name of Nottingham’s free cultural magazine which is really useful for finding what’s on.
“Cock on a Stick” and Mushy Peas – There’s a big fair, called “Goose Fair” in Nottingham every year, and the city’s two favourite foods are “Cock on a Stick” (no, it doesn’t involve a sausage) which is actually a candy cockerel on a stick, sold at said fair. The other “delicacy” popular here is a pot of mushy peas with mint sauce. They love both passionately up here.
It’s not “The North” – If you want to get on the good side of the locals, don’t refer to Nottingham as “The North”. As a Londoner, I hold that anything above Watford could be considered “The North”, but Nottingham is very much “The East Midlands”.
Now you know – I hope it helps.
Five Fun Facts about Nottingham
Just a bit of trivia for you to impress your fellow visitors with:
- Nottingham’s original name was “Snottingham” which meant “The Home of Snot’s People” in old Viking – I wonder why they changed it…
- Wollaton Hall isn’t Nottingham’s only connection to Batman – the nearby village of Gotham (pronounced “Goat-am”) is indeed the inspiration for Bruce Wayne’s hometown’s name (and some of the crazy characters found within).
- Nottingham is famous for its lace production, and when business owners started replacing people with machines hundreds of years ago, a man named Ned Ludd and his followers started smashing those machines to get people their jobs back – that’s where we get the term “Luddite” from.
- Boots, the chemist, began its history in Nottingham with a single shop started by John Boot in 1849. The company is still based here.
- We still have a Sheriff of Nottingham – she’s not nearly as bad as the one in the stories.
And There You Go!
I hope that will help to make Nottingham feel like a little more than just Warhammer World when you visit. It’s a great little city with plenty to enjoy, and if you need a break from dice rolling and miniatures, I hope you’ve found some things to do here. And notice how I got through the whole article without mentioning the name “Robin Hood”? …bollocks. So close. Anyway, until next time, onwards!