Top universities for brilliant pubs and bars

Busy bar at night
Pull up a bar stool. We’ll tell you about places to study close to the country’s best pubs.

If you want to study close to a decent drinking establishment you have plenty of choice, whether you'd prefer a chocolate cocktail in a hipster bar or a pint in a proper old inn.

University of Brighton and University of Sussex

Brighton excels in two types of pubs and bars. The first are traditional pubs where locals, young and old, straightforward and bohemian, rub shoulders with students. The second are glitzier bars for young professionals but which also attract a university crowd when students push the boat out.

For a good traditional pub try the Royal Sovereign or the Gladstone – although the canary yellow exterior of the latter seems anything other than traditional.

For glitzy bars be seen at Bees Mouth holding a glass of lemon meringue flavoured beer or a Caribbean chocolate cocktail; dance at Mesmerist or bring your own booze to BYOC and hire the bar staff to mix your cocktails.

University of Bristol and UWE

Bristol’s pubs and bars are quirky and varied. Many of the really good ones attract drinkers of all ages.

For oak-panelled nooks and crannies go to The Highbury Vaults – where condemned people had their final meal before walking to the gallows.

For craft beers and a ‘buzzing’ atmosphere visit the Pipe and Slippers and The Hillgrove Porter Stores in the Stokes Croft area, among the Jamaican bars, hipster hangouts and all manner of live music bars.

Fancy making a fuss of large numbers of pub cats?If so, take a trip to the Bag of Nails near the Harbourside. It also has vinyl records and a turntable to operate plus wind-up toys to play with.

Cardiff University and Cardiff Metropolitan University

The capital of Wales is a city that enjoys a drink, and has an ever-growing range of places to do so.

For sheer numbers of people visit Gassy Jacks – a cavernous former warehouse rammed with students and with snacks and DJ sets. It’s in the main student area of Cathays.

For a traditional Cardiff pub stroll from Cathays to Y Mochyn Du opposite the National Cricket Centre. Enjoy Welsh beers, Welsh rarebit, Welsh faggots and mushy peas, and Welsh music.

Shhh! For a secret experience sneak into The Dead Canary for some prohibition-era retro chic. The décor is plush, 30s Chicago style with black and white tiled floors. Entrance is through an unmarked door.

University of Glasgow, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow School of Art

Theatre, table tennis, sewing clubs, pints of 'heavy' (bitter, basically)… Glasgow’s pubs and bars offer the lot.

For ping pong, art deco interiors and cocktails in jam jars go to Hillhead Book Club – a café bar converted from a cinema that’s so quirky it hosts sewing classes and vintage clothes fairs as well as DJ nights.

For a play, a pie and a pint inside an old church you need Òran Mór with its beautiful auditorium decorated by Scottish author and artist Alasdair Gray. It bills itself as the UK’s most successful lunch time theatre, with 38 plays a year.

For a great, traditional malt whisky pub try The Pot Still. Imagine a really old library with tall, ornate mahogany bookshelves but with all the books replaced by a huge array of whisky bottles.

University of Edinburgh, Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh College of Art

Edinburgh has one of the highest densities of pubs per square mile in the UK.

For Victorian opulence drink at The Café Royal. It’s all marble floors, chandeliers, brass foot rails and murals of famous industrialists. You half expect the bar staff to wear top hats and bonnets.

For a huge student party atmosphere go directly to The Three Sisters Pub in Cowgate, near the castle. This sports pub has three rooms and a courtyard licensed for up to 2,000 revellers.

For a top bar inside a university head for Teviot Library Bar within the oldest student union building in the world. It has beer, cheap grub and books.

University of Leeds, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds Trinity University, Leeds College of Art

Leeds is a party city with craft beer bars and kitsch bar diners.

If you’re feeling surreal you’ll like The Fenton. It looks like an old man’s boozer but sells rhubarb ale and runs cheese-themed quiz nights, comedy hypnosis sessions and life drawing.

For feeling all at sea on land board the Dry Dock. It’s a converted barge, plonked on grass opposite Leeds Beckett University’s Library. Burgers, booze and student promotions ahoy!

For the biggest beer garden laze in the grounds of The Original Oak. It’s very much a traditional pub but hugely popular with students, especially in the summer.

University of Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool Hope University, Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts

The city on the Mersey has some of the most character-filled pubs in England.

For a pub with a Beatles connection head for Ye Cracke, which was one of John Lennon’s drinking haunts when he was a student. At the time of the Boer war, the pub had a special room where soldiers complained about their adventures. It looks like its décor hasn’t changed since then but in a pleasingly old-fashioned way.

For an evening at one of Liverpool’s glorious gin palaces go to the Philharmonic Dining Rooms. It’s a grade II listed building and is so sumptuous that visitors even go there to ogle its magnificent loos.

For a bohemian community feel try any of the bars on the wonderful Lark Lane, off Sefton Park. Rhubarb and Lodge are particularly worth visiting.

University of London, Imperial College London, City University, London South Bank University, University of Westminster…

There are a huge number of great pubs for students to enjoy throughout the capital.

Old, historic inns include the brilliant Black Friar in EC4, with its religious-themed Art Nouveau interior, and the cubby holes of Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, also in EC4, where Dickens drank.

For pubs by the Thames, try the Duke’s Head in Putney, the City Barge in Gunnersbury and The Ship in Wandsworth.

Fans of ultra-hip DJ bars can party at the Zigfrid Von Underbelly in Hoxton, Far Rockaway in Shoreditch and Dream Bags Jaguar Shoes, also in Shoreditch. They’re part of a scene that celebrates a mish-mash of shabby chic, high-tech, ethnic, punky and 'dayglow' interiors. They also have mottos such as ‘Thinking and drinking’ and ‘Free your mind and let your ass sway’, which presumably involves no thinking.

If you’re after more affordable pubs and bars, check out The Social in W1, Bar Story in SE15, and The Hawley Arms and Lock Tavern, both of which are in Camden.

University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, University of Salford

Manchester takes a real pride in its beautifully kept traditional city pubs. You’ll also find plenty of kitsch, cool bars.

For sci-fi themed fun teleport to Fab cafe bar. Expect to see a replica Dalek propping up the bar. It has a sister bar in Leeds (probably connected by some space-tequila wormhole).

For a ‘proper pub’ you could do worse than pop to the tiled-floor beauty that is the Marble Arch, which harks back to the heyday of pub architecture.

For comfy couches and extravagant chandeliers, one of the busiest bars in the city is Lammars, near Picadilly Station and just across from the Gay Village around Canal Street. It’s named after Manchester drag queen, Frank 'Foo Foo' Lammar.

Newcastle University, Northumbria University

Newcastle’s lively and friendly pubs and bars have a lot to offer students.

For real ale at 3.00 am go to The Head of Steam – said to be the only place in the city where you can get an old-fashioned pint at clubbing hours.

For cheap drinks and character, The Five Swans is in a great location smack bang between the Northumbria and Newcastle campuses.

For pubs in the middle of cultural activity, The Cumberland Arms is a top place for a drink when mooching around the Oseburn Valley part of the city with its galleries and workshops used by artists, musicians and performers.

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