“The architecture is entrancing,” said the Telegraph.

“Ingenious,” said the Guardian.

The modern art gallery is certainly more interesting on closer inspection. What looks like corrugated iron from afar is a series of curved concrete panels embossed with lace in tribute to the city’s worldwide trade in the 19th century.

Huge windows give a taster of the art works inside, and what at first looks like a one-storey building falls away to three levels as the gallery stretches down a sandstone cliff.

If some are still to be convinced about the appearance (“looks like it should be in Vegas,” someone in the queue said of the entrance’s gold trimming), the gallery’s contents seem 
to be winning them over.

Nottingham Contemporary launched with an exhibition from British painter David Hockney, and its light, spacious rooms are the perfect setting for his sun-soaked depictions of California. 

Nottingham’s heroes and villains

The city is well versed in artistic innovation. The Broadway Media Centre, a pioneering cinema, regularly exhibits digital art, and the New Art Exchange is the UK’s first regional city arts centre for Black and Asian arts.

Nottingham has always been more famous for ancient history than modern art, though.

Robin Hood was thought to hide out in nearby Sherwood Forest to do battle with the Sheriff of Nottingham. His legend lives on across the city, in the many pubs, hotels and streets named in his or Maid Marian’s honour.

The more unlucky outlaws were brought to justice in Nottinghamshire’s old courthouse and gaol, now the Galleries of Justice – a museum dissecting centuries of crime and punishment.

Its sister attraction, The City of Caves, explores the fascinating network of caves carved out of sandstone during medieval times, which runs beneath Nottingham.

The network extends under Nottingham Castle. Today, where the fortress once stood, there’s a mansion instead, but inside, a museum shows you how it once looked, and you’ll also find the first municipal art gallery to open in the UK outside London, dating back to 1878. 

Stags and hens in Nottingham

After swotting up on Nottingham’s history, stroll past the Robin Hood statue to the Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem.

Its ghost stories and low-ceilinged rooms makes it feel like the oldest pub in England, even if two other pubs in the city also claim this title (The Bell Inn on the Old Market Square and Ye OldeSalutation Inn on Maid Marian Way).

Perhaps this long history of drinking explains why today Nottingham is as famous for its nightlife as its eventful history.

From the bars in bohemian Hockley, to the clubs of the city centre and laid-back pubs along the canal, there’s something for everyone in Nottingham.

You’ll also find the only Hooters in the country, perfect for the more lecherous drinker.

With so much on offer it’s little wonder the city is a favourite for hen and stag parties. Let’s just hope they’re not too hungover to take a look at Nottingham’s newest attraction.

» Amy Adams travelled to Nottingham with Experience Nottingham (visitnottingham.com), and stayed at the Ibis Centre (ibishotel.com).