I thought I'd add to this, because the last review was written over two years ago, and there have been a few improvements since then. This review mainly focuses on the Penbryn halls of residence.
In my first year here (06/07), I stayed in Penbryn. I'd heard all the stories, seen pictures, and I even remember reading reviews on here. However, at the time I couldn't cook myself a meal, and liked the idea of the halls being so sociable.
To start with, Penbryn isn't for you if you're a fussy eater, or in fact, if you're fussy about anything in general. The majority of blocks have 4 floors, and around 20 people to a floor. I shared with 21 other people. For this you get a TINY kitchen, with ONE cupboard, a cooker that more closely resembles a camp stove, the other usual kitchen electricals, and two large fridge/freezers. Oh, and no chairs/tables. This sounds bad, but the only realy time spent in the kitchen is sitting around on the worksurfaces, people make their breakfast/lunches here, but that's about it.
As far as bathroom facilities go, we got 4 toilets, 3 showers and 2 baths, which was more than adequate. I think over the whole year I didn't have to wait more than once or twice to use a shower. The best bit here is that in catered halls the kitchen, bathrooms and corridors are cleaned for you, 5 days a week.
In my year, the catered restaurant was known as Branwens, a large hall, which roughly resembled a school canteen, albeit with more choice, and looking a bit more attractive. The choice of food was generally decent, providing you weren't a fussy eater, there are around three main options and one vegetarian each day. There are also a varied selection of veg/salad. The meals are graded from bronze to gold, and priced accordingly. On the whole, the food was reasonable. Over time, you got to know which were the better tasting meals, and always went for those when they came up. There are also occasional special theme days, such as Chinese, Indian and Welsh. The main thing to emphasise here is the social aspect, most people from each floor went down together to eat at the same time, and some of the tables were big enough to seat 12 or so.
The restaurant has since been rebranded as TaMed Da, and completely refitted. Not to see it needed refurbishment, but it is now a real selling factor for Penbryn. A new conservatory and decking area have been added in the past year, new chairs/tables and flooring in the main hall, and sofas in the conservatory. They have also added a new coffee/sandwich bar for lunchtime, and have big screens with Sky tv.
Describing my room in one word, I would have to say basic. The vast majority had no carpets, but the size was generally good. You also get a sink, desk, bedside table and wardrobe. Some rooms had bookshelves and larger wardrobes, but this was more a case of pot luck. There is more than enough space for most peoples belongings, and it is fairly easy to make a room seem more comfortable by adding posters etc. People tended to spend alot of time in each others rooms when we were in during the evening, so again the social advantages outweigh the lack of luxury.
Last year the majority of the frontage to Penbryn was repainted, and new windows were added, and I believe the rest is being completed over this summer, the first proper external refurbishment in 50 years really.
I have limited experience of these, but will cover them briefly.
Rosser and Trefloyne are both of a similar style, both self catered with a reasonable sized kitchen, and Rosser rooms are ensuite. However they have been deemed less sociable than other halls due to the layout of corridors.
Cwrt Mawr is one of the largest self catered halls, consisting of a number of blocks, all reasonably modern, and holding up to around 12 per flat. The rooms are slightly smaller than those of Penbryn, but have similar (albeit alot newer) than Penbryn, and are carpeted. Most Cwrt Mawr kitchens have been recently refurbished, with decent cooking facilities and storage space.
PJM is the student village, made up of 100 or so houses, each holding 5-6 people. Less sociable than Cwrt Mawr, as it's harder to get to know all your neighbours, but rooms are of a fairly good standard, with the upstairs ones being larger (again, pot luck). This is located just opposite the main Penglais campus.
Pantycelyn is the hall aimed at Welsh-speaking students, and is catered accomodation, with a canteen similar to Branwens.
Finally, just to make a point about noise levels, this can be an issue in any of the halls. The walls are fairly thin, so loud noise can travel a long way. However, there is an option to tick on the accommodation form to say you would prefer to be placed in a quieter area. And generally, PJM and Rosser will be quieter than Penbryn and Cwrt Mawr.
Wardens and night porters are (with exception) incapable of understanding that you are an adult and will refuse to treat you as one.
The quality of the accommodation is horrific, my mattress seems older than I am and the cleanliness is almost none existent.
You are disallowed by contract to do almost anything I would consider fun (BBQ, Fairy lights, Amp/Sub) or convenient/cheap (Fridge, Electric Heater).
You will (if you have my experience) lose most of your deposit of £100 even if you have no involvement in damage or mess at all.
Sound carries as if the doors aren't even there.
The colour/decor is horrendous.
Food in catered is BAD (poor/limited choice, not nice even for food you know and love).
As a second year student still in halls I have decided to review my halls of residence having now had two years living in them and something to compare it to.
Well those of you looking to move to aberystwyth may wish to know about the halls, well there are lots and lots once you include all the sea front one and those in Llanbadarn, this review is concerned with Blaenwern hall but almost all will apply to all seafront residences (not alex halls).
Unfortunately the link to the acommodation fees website is currently down, so i will update this when i get more info. The cost is usually around £800 a term for a seafront room which is very reasonable compared to the other acommodation (especially since over a third of rooms have a sea view). Since you can even stay in this hall over the holidays and don't have to move out each term, except summer then it really is good value. for more information on cost see:
Distance from campus:
Those of you who have been to Aberystwyth will be aware of the hill at which the uni sits atop. Blaenwern halls is at the very bottom of this hill on the seafront and so when i need to get to campus i have to set off 25-30 minutes before the lecture is due to start. After the first few climbs you will realise that the hill really isn't that far and in many ways all the advantages of living in town outwiegh the journey. For students looking to study any of the rural subjects then you will have at least an hours walk uphill to Llanbadarn campus so this hall is probably not ideal for you, and anyone looking to study at old college or the school of lifelong learning then good news, they are just down the street! A taxi up to main campus costs around £2.50 and a bus pass is available for £30 a year, however i would recommend walking as it is good for your health.
Distance from town:
Blaenwern hall is around 5 minutes walk from the centre of town which makes shopping and going to the pub far easier than living up at campus, remember that walking up the hill whilst drunk at night or with shopping will be much harder than before a lecture with just a notepad and pen.
This is one of the best halls for parking in that there is a lot of space both round the front and round the back, most of the halls however do have carparks- Blaenwern does not, but this does mean you don't have to pay out for a pass. One word of warning is that when parking on the seafront there will be the ocassional night which is stormy and causes rocks to be chucked up at cars and damage them!
Blaenwern has some of the biggest rooms i have ever seen in a student hall. Some are even big enough to fit a few couches in, my room is the smallest of the lot by a long way but still measures around 3x5 metres, my bonus is however i have the only room with a skylight!
All seafront rooms have undergone refurbishment around two years ago making them really nice to live in. All come complete with large desks(with 3 draws), A bedside table (with 3 draws), a cupboard (with you guessed it 3 draws inside), a bed with matress and a really funky office chair- the type with wheels, adjustable back and adjustable suspension. There is also a set of shelves above the desk, maybe for books I'm not sure but most people keep beer or DVD's on there. All rooms now have high speed internet connections as standard, the speed differs from hall to hall, mine currently says it is running at 400mps (i doubt my network card can even take that!)
This is one of the few halls that provides ample plug sockets, my room has two sets of two on the desk and an extra socket on the other side of the room, extensions are still usefull but at least I dont have wires trailing everywhere. My room does have a carpet as do all in this hall and it really is a rather nice room. Posters are allowed so that really will make those white walls look a little less daunting and there is a notice board in all rooms so you can pin various items to that.
My flat has two bathrooms as there are 9 of us, however the other 3 flats in the building contain fewer people 4-6 and so only have one bathroom. Each bathroom has a shower and a toilet, unfortunately it is the students responsibility to clean it in this hall so despite actually being nice and modern it could soon end up fairly dirty.
My flat also has two kitchens, however one contains nothing more than a few cupboards and a kettle so is useless. All 4 flats have extremely large kitchens, the largest I have seen, and all have sea views so you can look out whilst you eat. There is a kettle, cooker, microwave, fridge and a freezer in each kitchen- the number of people sharing simply depends on the number of people in the flat. Cleaning the kitchen is again the students responsibility in this halls so again don't expect it to stay clean very long.
All rooms come with a working radiator and properly closing window, unlike some halls and so you should be nice and warm despite the cold offshore winds. Maintainence are really helpfull here too so if your room does break in any way they will be right out to fix it.
It has a back garden, you wont get that oncampus! Although it is lacking in grass and is currently just tiles we intend to add some plants soon ready for summer. It will be good for the barbeque enthusiast but really lets remember we are only 10 metres walk from the sea anyway.
All rooms have a magnet key system so there is no way someone will have a copy to get into your room, the door to the flat also has the same, as does the front door, however if you choose to leave the doors open and let strangers in this is all useless. My hall has not been broken into unlike some and unless someone leaves a door open i doubt it will be as the locks and doors are really heavy duty. There is an intercom system on the front door for people to call you if they want to come in so if like me you live on the top floor you don't have to walk all the way down to let them in.
All rooms in Blaenwern are non-smoking and the fire alarms are calibrated appropriately. It is possible to cover the alarm with a condom or such like but this is very dangerous and could lead to you being thrown out and prosecuted (or worse...) The kitchens are also non-smoking but i find most people do not mind people smoking in here as it is so large and the alarm will not go off.
Incense and candles are also prohibited as in all aberystwyth halls, believe me, i found that out when the fire brigade turned out to extinguish my nag champa!
Other than that this hall has very few rules that you wont find anywhere else, and a visit from the porters is incredibly rare (like almost never) unlike many of the halls, so if you want to stay in naked playing indoor golf with the oven and some eggs no one will be likely to tell you not too.
This hall is self catered as with all off campus halls. I would personally recommend this as after living in a catered hall last year i can safely say the food sucks! It will taste nothing like the food they have on open day, also it seems to work out really expensive to eat in the catered halls so beans on toast it is!
This is one of the cheaper halls, but also one of the nicest. with little interference from warderns you are free to do what you please. The walls are nice and thick too so you wont have to worry about waking people up at night. It is warm, modern and safe so i would really recommend it, especially for the more independant student. Those who like to be more near the university will be better suited to campus, but i enjoy the walk and the calming atmosphere given by a sea front room.
for more info including pictures and a map see: http://www.aber.ac.uk/residential/en/accommodation/gwal.shtml
Rosser, the new name for a shoebox. Initially, these halls seem pretty decent as they're new, fairly clean and are en suite. While it's nice to have your own crapper and a large kitchen to congregate in, this is about it as far as positive aspects.
Each flat consists of 8 people (generally 4 guys 4 girls) and is COMPLETELY LOCKED OFF from every other flat. There are no communal areas and considering the halls are based on the blueprints for prison cells (no kidding) you can imagine that space is not of the essence here. There literally isn't a chance in hell of meeting people outside your flat short of busting into the other hallways, which is something I don't really reccommend unless you've been partying with JD.
The bathrooms are great - clean and, while tiny, certainly adequate for dudes like myself. The showers are electric so you never need to worry about hot water although the tap plumbing is pretty shit as you can only get about 30 seconds of hot water before it goes cold. The bedrooms are pathetic though and can comfortably seat about 3-4 average sized human beings. Coming from a year in the States, I question why bunk beds weren't installed in Rosser which would give you the chance to put a futon or sofa underneath and make it a lot nicer. The walls are breezeblock and hearing your neighbour riding the hobby horse is, well, a breeze. You'll also be given the luxuries of a tiny bedside table, small desk with 2 drawers, a wall mounted bookshelf and a wardrobe that extends to the ceiling (your only real source of storage).
I seriously question the logic behind these buildings as I just couldn't get over how restrictive the entire place felt. It honestly is like living in army barracks or something, they are that bland and boring. It's only saving grace is a decent sized bar which has a nice atmosphere and gets pretty busy at night (pints are ridiculously expensive though).
Ultimately, if you don't like contact with the outside world you'll be fine here. However if you want to meet people, have fun, party and actually ENJOY your time as a student, I seriously reccommend you go elsewhere. Congregating in a dung-smelling kitchen on sweaty plastic chairs isn't my idea of fun, and I would gladly sacrifice my pristine bathroom for a skid-mark infested kazi if it meant having more of an experience at Uni.
Cwrt Mawr Halls ? Aberystwyth I am in my second year at Aberystwyth, and in my second year living in Cwrt Mawr Halls. I have been told that this is among the cheapest accommodation in the country, and in places you can see why, but overall they are a good place to live. Your room is average size (although they do vary, rooms with bay windows are a bit larger than rooms without by about 2ft sq) they are big enough to fit your stuff with room to spare. You also get a desk with shelves, a wardrobe, overhead storage a sink with mirror and towel rail and of course a bed! Bedding is provided and you can exchange dirty for clean linen every Wednesday, but I suggest bringing your own bedding, for comfort and to pad out the mattresses, which are kinda old. The block you are in connotes whether you have carpets in your room or not, and some blocks have only a shower, while some have both a shower and a bath. Some have one large kitchen, others have two small. Each has two toilets. They also vary in the number of rooms per flat from 8-12. You get basic cooking equipment ? cooker, microwave, fridge/freezer, toaster & kettle, but you need to bring your own cutlery, pots, plates etc as they are not provided and your flatmates might get a bit narked if you keep taking their stuff. The rooms are not that bad, but I have had my window break, and it took over a month to be fixed, but other than that, I have had no problems. The thing that causes problems is the other people on campus ? I?ve had people stealing food and alcohol, and go through my cupboards in the kitchens. Also noise can be a problem in halls as the walls aren?t very deep and the buildings are three floors high. When someone slams a door on the top floor it can be clearly heard on the ground floor. Campus has lots of facilities, like computer rooms, laundrette, pool tables, bars/nightclub, shops, library (with the national library of Wales right at the bottom of
campus) as well as the Arts centre, the local entertainment centre for touring shows (I saw Dave Gorman there before Christmas). Bands also tour the union (reef did the may ball last year). Just off campus, in staggering distance is the Co-op (supermarket) with it's own inbuilt post office - very handy, plus the co-op stays oper till ten most nights (only closes at four on a sunday) this I have found amazingly helpful. There is also a chip-shop opposite the co-op and although I don't really have any complaints, I wouldn't really recommend it. The town is good too, with 52 bars (thats 1 a week for a year!), and a few nightspots (the bay the glen and peir pressure) its not bad all in all - not as busy as say birmingham nightlife but it's enough to hamper most peoples studies. Overall I would recommend Cwrt Mawr Halls as the problems I?ve had would be the same no matter where on campus you live as where there is a high concentration of drunk students ? trouble follows!
I lived in Penbryn during the academic year 2001 - 2002, in TCE. Too be fair, it doesn't look anything special when you first set your eyes on it. In fact the rooms are a little bare to say the least. The only furniture tends to be an old desk, wardrobe, 3 shallow shelves and obviously, your bed. My first thoughts tended to be that it looked very cell like. All you needed on the windows were bars and you'd be set!! However, you shouldn't let this get you down.I didn't. Once all your gear has taken up all the limited living space, and you've got your posters on the wall, you're sorted!! This is your room, you can have it as messy as you want and there's no parents there, nagging you to tidy it up!!! FREEDOM!!! You're probably wondering, well what about bathroom facilities and what is a gyp room? On each floor in TCE there are 20 bedrooms on 2 corridoors. Each corridoor has 2 toilets (one for the girls and another for the boys), 1 shower and 1 bath. It's definately not as bad as it sounds!!!! The gyproom, a.k.a kitchen, is located between the 2 corridoors. It houses 2 fridges, a microwave, kettle, toaster, sandwich toaster, a mini oven and 2 hobs. The limited facilities are the reason why it's not called a kitchen. These rooms are only provided to prepare light snacks. Your main meals should be consumed in the refectory. TCE is kept relatively clean and tidy by a team of cleaners who come around 5 days a week. Their responsabilities are to clean the shared spaces i.e. gyprooms, corridoors, toiltes, bath, and shower. You'll find you get to know your cleaner well. Ours was called Karen and she was lovely!! Hope she's still there next year. In my first week I was very surprised to find myself housed with people of simular interests.I think that the accomodation office takes that into consideration when allocating your rooms. Consequently after about a week you feel like yo
u've known these people your whole lives. Scary huh? You'll also find out that TCE has got a bit of a reputation. Due to it being isolated from the main Pmbryn hall, it's residents tend to get away with alot more mischief. We always did!! I swear, I've had the best year of my life living in TCE and whoever is there in this forthcoming year 2002-2003 - believe me whan I say that I'm so very jelous. Enjoy it whilst it lasts because the time absolutely flies by and before you know it you're packing up to go home!!!!!
I've been living in Penbryn since September 2001 and thought it was about time to share my thoughts on the place before the next group of prospective candidates tick that little box on the application form. I reckon I best start with the official line (i.e. the one that University officials and pre-programmed student reps band about whenever you visit). The University of Wales, Aberystwyth, has a number of halls of residence, one of which is Penbryn. Penbryn Hall of Residence is located on the main Penglais campus and accommodates over 500 students, most of whom are first years. Penbryn was built in the 1960’s and is split up into blocks, 8 in total (Rendel blocks 1-3, Davies Bryan block 4, Alban Davies block 5, Ifor Evans block 7, Thomas Charles Edwards block 8-9). It is a catered hall, the option is there to eat at Branwen’s the restaurant/canteen (hovel/gruel pit – whatever). There are television rooms, a computer room, and a music room for those budding musicians. All study rooms have the basics – wardrobe, desk etc. (bed if you’re lucky). Penbryn is made up of mostly mixed floors but you can request all female or all male accommodation (for some reason they didn’t put me on the all girls floor, even though I specifically requested it). What a rosey picture I’ve painted, you must forgive the sarcastic comments but Penbryn really is a hovel. I’ve mentioned already that Penbryn was built in the 1960’s, I should also say that the architects obviously got the plans for Dartmoor prison and the Halls mixed up, it’s just like a bloody prison. I should also say that Penbryn hasn’t had any work done to it since those hazy days, we’ve got a lift that travels so slowly that it would be quicker to catch a bus all the way round the campus and come out at the top than to use it, well maybe that was an exaggeration. Roughly speaking there are four corridors to ever
y block, with twenty study bedrooms to every corridor. Each corridor has one kitchen and one bathroom (3 toilets, 3 shower and a bath). The study bedrooms themselves are little more than boxes, if you come on an open day you’ll get shown round Rendel then you’ll see big rooms, the likelihood is that you’ll get a room about half the size. You do get the basic furniture that you’d expect. A nice big 1960’s desk, usually with various inscriptions carved into it relating to events before the moon landing, a wardrobe that wouldn’t fit you’re underwear let alone a pair of trousers and a desk lamp that is dimmer than me. Of course you get a bed as well, a very hard bed that is about as comfortable as a DIY enema with bits of mould sprouting from the corner, but a bed. My mates call them ‘no shag’ beds, in that they can barely fit a dwarf let alone two rampant students. The walls are thinner than my dad’s hair and if you’re after a good night’s sleep then you can forget it. The kitchen’s are rank, nothing else to say really. The communal bathrooms are something to behold. Showerheads are mouldy and depending upon your floormates you might get a nasty surprise. Substandard accommodation, surely Penbryn must offer something else? We have a wonderful canteen/restaurant known as Branwens. Just because you are a resident doesn’t mean you have to eat there but you will have been offered a meal card package for god knows how many hundreds of pounds and during that first week of mass bureaucracy and you simply have to eat there for the rest of term. Branwens is quite simply appalling. You only need catch a waft of the delicacies that they are preparing to make you physically sick. As you queue for endless hours, like a prisoner waiting for his executioner an inconsolable nervousness sweeps you, will today be any different? Then you see the menu, Chicken Kiev again, deserts f
rom the middle ages and watered down cola. Branwens is abysmal and can’t be good for you’re health. I wouldn’t trust the TV rooms either, they always smell of urine and very rarely provide a comfortable place to watch Diagnosis Murder. The computer room is small, with about 10 working computers for the whole hall and no printer. Me thinks I’ve done a pretty good job at putting you all off Penbryn, so why then have I given it four stars? Penbryn is in fact one of the best places to live in your first year university. It is fairly cheap, but it provides and excellent intermediate stage between living at home and living independently. You have the option of being fed, most of the communal cleaning is done by cleaning and everyone looks and the warden, Dr. Ian Tompkins, will do his best with any issue. Penbryn is so good because it is so bad. You are thrust into a situation where you must live with up to twenty complete strangers, the fact that facilities aren’t great bonds you right from the off. For all the failings of the buildings the staff are absolutely wonderful. I must highlight Dai, one of the Porters, he’s always got a smile on a face, is always there to talk and is all round a great bloke. Everyone is there to help, they know it’s not the best accommodation, but everything is geared towards making your stay comfortable. Immense fun is to be had on the closely-knit corridors and everyone seems to know everyone else, even if there is a degree of inter block rivalry. And hell, even if the bedrooms are a little small, you’re a student and you probably spend more time in lectures (ha ha, the pub) than you do in there anyway. Even the ‘no shag’ beds are great as you have to perfect new positions to take them into account (sorry that was a little bit too adult for a public opinion). I don’t really think I can give an accurate depiction of the Hall i
n a little opinion like this and I apologise for the disjointed nature that it has taken. If you do decide to come to Aberystwyth the Penbryn must be a great choice. You make friends so easily and everything is so closely knit it’s just like being at home. Sure it has its disadvantages and I’ve probably overstated them but I wouldn’t change a minute since I got here. The only real problem with Penbryn is that it’s not got a bar. For more information check out; www.aber.ac.uk or www.penbryn-hall.co.uk (if it still running)
I had the misfortune of being placed on Llanbadarn campus for my first year, which is reserved for a mix of librarians, agricultural college students, equine studies people & foreign students. I was in Aaron, which was supposedly one of the nicer halls, as we could control the heating in our rooms unlike most of the other halls. It was quite expensive for the standard of accommodation, which they explained to be due to the subsidised canteen, meaning all our meals would be eaten there. This was rubbish. A proper meal was at least £3/4, which, when you're living on a shoestring grant (most of which goes on subsidising your canteen) is a lot every day. It was also quite far from town and the main campus, so you are quite isolated from what's going on. As I did joint honours with a subject which was only taught on the main campus, the free busses provided by the uni were very helpful, even if they did mean I missed the first 5 mins of every lecture. Add this to the fact that *very* few people on the main campus have ever heard of it, let alone know where it is, and you have an isolated and unpleasant place to live. I hope I never have to live anywhere which has thin, orange window blinds and smelly wellies in the hallway again!
I was in Rosser in my 1st year. It's a nice hall as far as the rooms go. En-suite bathrooms, share the kitchen with 7 others. BUT it's probably not the best hall socially. I would suggest Penbryn or Cwrt Mawr if you want to meet people. Rosser is too sectioned off. Every flat is locked and it's very difficult for people to pop in and visit. There are no communal rooms either. There is (or there was in 1995) a laundry block though. It's also quite expensive. I think Trefloyne is quite similar except you share a bathroom.
The halls of residence are quite good at Aberystwyth Uni. Here is the rundown of the different ones: Penbryn - You get to meet the most people but the wardens are the most annoying and you end up knowing everything about everyone and having no sleep. 25 on each floor!! Student Village - Nice, clean, 5/6 to a house, expensive but at least you keep the room for the holidays. However, they're quite isolated. Cwt Maer/Rosser/Treffloyne - Most of these are the same. 6 to a floor. mix between Village and Penbryn. However Rosser is ensuite.