After attempting to drink at as many college bars as I could (for research purposes of course) I came to the conclusion that without a reliable guide a new student might find themselves rather lost. So I took it upon myself to write this article just in case someone should be tempted by the false delights of St John's bar. The other opinions on the thread are slightly out of date as well. Each college has its own bar. Since there is no central student union the bars are the focal points of university and college life. The quality varies, but in general they offer cheap beverages and a friendly atmosphere. Most of the bars open at about 6pm but don't expect to find anyone in them until about 8pm. All the bars close at 11pm but they sometimes get extension if they have a bop going on (a bop is a stupid oxford word for a party, a college might have 3 every term. The Wadham and Baliol bops are probably the best around; avoid the Hilda's bop whatever you do). THE BARS Christ Church This bar, set in one of the most impressive colleges, is itself quite impressive. There is more seating then any of the other colleges, a cheap table football table and friendly bar staff pulling cheap pints. However when I visited the bar there were quite literally no other people in there. It was so lonely we had to talk to the barman. Apparently it was dinnertime at Christ Church and everybody ate together. Avoid this bar between 7pm-8pm. I find the college itself quite unfriendly but as yet I'm unqualified to comment on the atmosphere in the bar. Trinity Having been refused service at this bar for not being a member of the college my opinion of this bar is not particularly high. From what I remember of that night the bar was quite nice... but I’m not going back anyway. Balliol Balliol has a nice cheap bar set underground. It is quite large and features a pool table and a footy table. The bigwigs in the Ox
ford Student Union often frequent it. Tuesdays night are the best nights as they do drinks promos, doubles for £1.35 and cheap pints before 8pm. St John's St John's is the richest and one of the largest college, it seems, therefore, to have no excuse for its bar. The John's bar is one of the smallest and least frequented in the university. The prices are more expensive. Probably one to avoid. Keble Keble college itself is probably the most unattractive of all the Oxford colleges with its nasty multicoloured brick design. However the bar is modern with a space age design. It has a sweeping glass wall, which makes it very nice for drinking in during the summer. The prices are reasonable. Jesus Probably the busiest bar in Oxford and it always seems crowded. You will need someone to let you in and out of the college as well. Avoid bop nights, as it gets very busy. Bar prices are in the middle of the spectrum. Lincoln A smaller bar but with cheap drinks and some beers a pound a pint. Not usually busy but a friendly atmosphere is guaranteed. Set underground which is a drawback. Has a nicely maintained pool table. Attractive bar staff, if my memory serves me correctly. Wadham This is a modern spacious bar. Friendly bar staff and clean toilets add to its appeal. Earlier in the evening there is usually somewhere to sit. Wadham's open door policy is another advantage as you never have to let your friends in or indeed even know anyone at the college. It has a friendly atmosphere and the prices are reasonable. St Hugh's St Hugh's is the least central of all the colleges and is therefore one of the least visited. I briefly visited it's bar which was quite big with reasonable bar prices. However after leaving the bar at around midnight I took a wrong turn and instead of walking back to the Town Centre and my college I walked towards Summertown. Upon arriving in
Summertown I realised my error and was then left facing an hours walk to get home. New College Admittedly I am biased with this one as I am a student here but I think this is one of the best bars in the university. Prices are middle of the road as they were raised a couple of years ago to encourage more study (I don't think it did much good, the bar bills just went up). Until last year it did not accept cash but it does now. It has one beer on tap and most of the regular beers on draught. It is in the crypt of the old college chapel (1379) and its subterranean feel is its main drawback, although in the summer term there is some natural sunlight. The bar is quite big and it never feels crowded although there are usually quite a few people in the bar as the 2nd years live in the college. The bar boasts a Who Wants to be a Millionaire machine and a two racing game as well as table football. This is by no means a complete list. As I make my way round the other bars I'll post my thoughts here but these are probably the best ones anyway.
If you are going to consider your social life when choosing a university, then consider this: in choosing Oxford you the choice of not having a nice big student union with lots of bars in and venues for bands etc. Instead you opt for college bars, or the Oxford Union. As an undergraduate I was at Newcastle, and enjoyed what the Student Union there had to offer, i.e. very cheap beer, bands, and essentailly an array of nightclubs. When I got to Oxford I had a bit of a shock because it is so different. In a big Union bar you have all types of people from all different backgrounds, in an Oxford College bar you are likely to see the same faces from that college over and over and over. To me it seemed a bit restrictive, but some people love it. On the down side college bars can be hard to get into if you are not a member of that college, and they are not that cheap, but then nothing is in Oxford (including college accomodation!). The Oxford Union (not an NUS establishment) club known as the Purple Turtle is another place to go to BUT you have to be a member, or with a member, and membership doesn't come cheap, and at 5 pounds to get in on a Saturday night, I would give it a miss unless you are with a good crowd of friends and are feeling merry. On the whole night life in Oxford isn't exactly brilliant, but you get used to it.
So, it's come down to this has it? We haven't got a central student union bar, you can't afford to go to a pub, and you're with some mates who aren't members of the Union Society. Well, pick a college, any college. You might want to start somewhere cheap and cheerful. If you've got a college member, St. John's is good value for a reasonable range of drinks, and a games room downstairs. As long as you're not there when it gets busy they won't mind too much about too many guests. Magdalen are similarly tolerant, and the bar has plenty of space. Your problem here is getting past the porters in the first place to get at the bar! Avoid New if you're not a college member, as they don't take cash. St. Catz is also a bit of a problem, they've been closing early due to falling academic standards (closing won't help, but I shan't go into why). Keble are getting gradually more restrictive, and the beer's not that cheap anymore anyway. So, you've started your drinking, and you want to get some serious pints in, William Hague style (hmm, maybe not). I presume you've all met up now, so your main priority is going to be somewhere that's not overpriced. Your best bet here would be St. Hilda's (pound a pint, cheap spirits). Watch out if you're a gang of blokes wandering in though, you'll get funny looks from the porter. Being an all-girl college they don't *mind* you coming in, but they'll all be out somewhere else. Still, makes for a nice uncrowded bar. If you can't face that, I guess your best chance would be to go to Brasenose, Balliol or Oriel. You could have an overcrowding problem on a Friday or Saturday, but that's the nature of alcohol. Watch out, it's nearly half ten. You've got four choices now. You could stop drinking. This is a bad thing. You could go to a club. This would d
efeat the money-saving object of the evening. You could find a college whose bar doesn't close (hint, graduate colleges are good here). You'd be needing a college member there though. That could be tricky. So what I'd say is get yourself to an Off License and buy some more drink (if you're really organised you could do this before you set out for the night in the first place). Stash that, and head on to somebody's room when last orders strikes (don't wait for chucking out, you'll only have to deal with all the other drunks on the street). Here endeth today's lesson. jdcxxx
Oh it seems like a long long time ago...those heady days of long lie-ins, loads of sex, vodka and rock and roll oh and a bit of learning on the way If anyone is wondering whether they should go to Oxford, if you have the ability - just do it! What fun, joy, drunken antics and loverly people. I'm so covered with enthusiasm my fingers are running away with me. But seriously, Catz (St Catherine's) is a cool modern, tolerant college with some right funny geezer tutors and fun too. If I had to do it all again I might actually do some studying, but hey you're only young once