Peterhouse is the oldest and smallest of the Cambridge colleges. Though its reputation is for being stuffy and old fashioned (and this does work for their set of mostly white, old men fellows), the student body itself is actually very alternative, along the same lines as Tit Hall. The smallness of Peterhouse can be a blessing or a curse, depending on the the type of person you are. On the one hand, it means everyone is included, there’s much more inter-year mixing, and the whole college is kind of like one extended friendship group. On the other hand, everyone is always included so if you don’t like someone, there’s no escape.
Location-wise, Peterhouse is a good balance between near enough to town to access everything you need with ease but far enough that you don’t get massive amounts of tourists. The street it’s on isn’t as active as the one Downing and Emma face onto but it’s near to a few great pubs (the mill, the anchor, and, across the river, the granta). It’s also right down from the architecture and engineering depts, and the back of the Fitzwilliam museum actually forms a wall for one of their grounds areas.
Accommodation is not the dream at Peterhouse. Like any college, there’s a huge range of rooms from some of the most spectacular I’ve seen in Cam (C4 is the set of the gods) to shoe boxes. The big problem with Peterhouse accommodation is the kitchen and bathroom situation. There’s very few ensuites and the shared bathrooms are not of the highest quality. The kitchens are never more than little gyp rooms, with a little hob, microwave, and kettle. You are also not allowed to fry when cooking at Peterhouse, only boil, and there’s this crazy woman who goes around confiscating your pots and pans if she thinks you’ve been frying. Compounded on this, Peterhouse is one of only two colleges (along with Caius) that requires students eat at formal/hall for a certain number of meals each term; if you don’t meet the requirement, they charge you anyway. This wouldn’t be so bad but the quality of Peterhouse food is notoriously awful. I’ve been to formal there 5 times, once it was very lovely, 3 times it was a bit grim, and once I was served curry. At formal.
Architecturally, Peterhouse is a complete hodge-podge, reflecting the fact that the college has been around for so long and added onto as needed. The view looking into the college from the gate near the plodge (which I frustratingly can’t find a picture of) is probably my single favorite view in Cam but there’s also some not-so-ideal 1960′s stuff lurking around. Peterhouse has been in the midst of a massive renovation the past 3 years but they’ve finally finished, refurbishing quite a few rooms and creating a new JCR and bar. Peterhouse has a May Ball every 3 years, although after the resounding success of this year’s ball (it was gorgeous and the people running it did well on their exams), they’re considering changing that to every other year.
Best feature: the history (as you will hear many times from anyone who goes to Peterhouse, their hall is the oldest secular building in the UK still used for its original purpose).
Worst feature: the no frying thing.
Overall: A small, artsy, alternative college with some of the best history in the uni. Think long and hard about whether that social scene would work for you though.
At every college, there’s a wide range of rooms from really nice to really sketchy. The biggest variation between colleges’ accommodation is with kitchens and bathrooms. So this is a master post of the kitchen/bathroom situation by college! (Helpful Experts, send me stuff about your kitchens/bathrooms!)
Caius: All first years are guaranteed en-suite accommodation. In 2nd yr, you can opt for the rooms in town, near Sidgwick site or the rooms a bit further out (12min cycle) depending on your position in the ballot. Those rooms are massive! It’s also quite nice living in a house with your closest friends.In 3rd yr, everyone can live in town with the rooms varying from large sets (living room + bedroom) to smaller rooms.
Churchill: Kitchens: The kitchens are quite rubbishy, generally you have one kitchen between 6-10 people, all kitchens have cupboards, a sink, hobs, and at least one little fridge (with a freezer part that is so tiny it’s totally useless). A few kitchens have ovens, but they’re trying to get rid of them all. Bathrooms: there are a fair few rooms with en suites, which are really nice, other than that each floor has a toilet and seperate shower room, some have baths Overall: kitchen situation not ideal, bathrooms are fairly average.
Clare: Bathrooms - Clare’s bathroom situation is a+. You get a list of options sent to you before you arrive as a fresher (and you put them in order of preference), they include en suite set (bathroom, living room + bedroom), en suite (bathroom and bedroom), shared en suite (sharing an en suite with one other person), attic room (big ass room bit sharing a bathroom with four other people), ‘oxo’ (small bedroom, have to share a bathroom with 2-4 people depending on your staircase). I’ve rarely heard of anyone not getting what they put down as their first choice, and when you do you only get bumped down one. In both 2nd and 3rd year you get the choice of having a bathroom, though this depends more on your place in the ballot. But yeah the bathrooms are nice and the bedders clean them once a week which I hear they don’t do at all other colleges. Kitchens - In memorial court (where all freshers live), and the kitchens have a hob, microwave, kettle, fridge etc. Everything but an oven, and there are no restrictions on how we are to use them or not, so you can make some pretty slap up meals if you try. As far as I can tell it’s a pretty normal kitchen situation compared to other colleges. In memorial court though, most of the kitchens are old and therefore not spacious, ie for communal eating you’d have to go into somebody’s room. Though there was an extension done so there’s some modern accommodation and this has awesome kitchen’s with big tables like you see at downing and jesus. Overall: so overall, accommodation/bathroom situation is pretty excellent, because you have a lot of choice about price and size of room and stuff. Kitchen situation is pretty normal in terms of facilities, and many of the kitchens are small and don’t offer a communal eating area, though the layout of the rooms means you make friends super easy anyway.
Downing: In 1st year you only choose “more expensive” or “cheaper” for you accommodation and they are randomly placed from that. So you don’t get much choice but that’s fine because the overall quality of accommodation is insane. In 2nd and 3rd year you get a ton of choice from old rooms in the main courts to houses on Lensfield Road. You get to form syndicates with up to 4 friends (so 5 people total) and then your syndicate is randomly placed in a ballot. The ballot reverses in 3rd year so it’s really fair. Kitchens: The kitchens in one block, Gryphon, are restaurant quality with one giant kitchen for each floor, complete with 4 ovens and huge tables for communal eating (or pre-drinking). The kitchens in the Kennys and Howard are also really nice, one on each floor, all with an oven and 4 hobbs. There aren’t tables or places to eat communally in these ones though. There’s also a very freshers in staircases where the kitchens are a bit older but still serviceable (and all have ovens!). Bathrooms: All the rooms in the “more expensive” bracket are ensuite and most of the less expensive ones too (pretty much all the rooms not in the staircases). The ensuites are really nice, with most having their own bath! most of the houses also have mainly en suites or like 2 people sharing a bathroom. Overall: Downing is known for its accommodation and for good reason!
Fitz: Fitz isn’t too bad!Kitchens: Half of all the fresher’s accommodation will have ovens by next year (right now it’s only two blocks) because they’re renovating two of the blocks. You don’t get freezers in first year (unless you have a medical situation, in which case you can request one!) , but you can get them in second/third year. Still, I’ve been cooking all year and haven’t had any issues without a freezer. All kitchens have four-ring electric hobs, enough cupboards so that everyone gets one, and two little fridges (you generally get one shelf on the fridge, which can be a bit of a pain!). We also have long-term contracts! Bathrooms: you get accomodation contracts sent to you pre-Freshers, and you pick whether you want a room with a shower or not (although it’s first come first serve, I’ve yet to meet someone who wanted a shower and didn’t get one- in fact, someone in my corridor asked for a room without a shower, but got one anyway!). Two blocks have showers in rooms, but shared toilet facilities; one block has full ensuites, and by next year, two more blocks will have full ensuites. In second year, it’s the same, unless you live in houses which have shared bathrooms with maybe like one ensuite room. In third year, you get ensuites! Overall: Pretty good, especially after renovations will be complete.
Emma: Freshers are located in one of 3 types of accommodation. 1) New South - en suite, more expensive, nice large kitchens with hobs and microwave ovens with oven + grill function. 4 years old so new interiors too.~ 1/5th of year 2) Old South - 60s accommodation, cheaper than new south, larger but less modern. Shower + toilet separate on each floor on a staircase shared between 4 ~ 1/2th of year. Also, Old South have smallest gyp rooms, no hobs but people use grills/kettles/microwaves etc. 3) North Court - old, fancy looking buildings renovated within last 4 years. Same bathroom situation as Old South, larger kitchens in most floors (sharing with about 6 max) inc. hobs. ~ ¼ year (sorry for bad maths) ALL EMMA ROOMS HAVE FRIDGES WOOOOOO (no one stealing food or leaving rooms for cereal). Rooms are graded based on size, facilities, such as en suite, and how modern it is. Everyone ends up happy with the room they’re in but I would say paying extra for an ensuite is worth it, but there isn’t a big enough size difference between four and five (what you chose from) to go up based on size. Note that ensuite rooms are smaller than others of the same grade. Later years have choice of rooms with range of en suite or 3 room sets to smaller shared rooms.
Girton: Kitchens: At the College, not sure about Wolfson Court, kitchens are quite nice, but there are a lot of people to a not very big kitchen (there are roughly 20 people who use my kitchen, but there’s rarely the issue of too many people at once). All kitchens have an oven, hob, microwave and two fridges, and most of the time people on the corridor all chip in to get a toaster too. One corridor I know of has a freezer, so hope you get that one. Bathrooms: (Again, not sure about Wolfson Court): Most corridors have shared bathrooms, which aren’t too bad. There are about 4 showers and a bath between 20 people, but because everyone is getting up at different times, you rarely have to queue to use them. The shared bathrooms are cleaned daily. Some rooms have En suites, though you’re unlikely to get those in first year unless you have a medical condition. In 2nd and 3rd, they’re part of the Room Ballot. You’re expected to clean them.
Homerton: Kitchens: In Harrrison House, the kitchens are really good - spacious, fridge, freezer, hob, oven, toaster, microwave, more than a cupboard each, table, chairs and a kettle. they also have a washer and dryer.
Jesus: In first year all Jesuits live on site in a set of staircases. The rooms are pretty small but serviceable. After first year you go into a ballot and lots of people choose to live in houses (not on site but just down the street). Kitchens: On site, the kitchens aren’t great. They tend to be more like gyp rooms, not ovens. The house kitchens are great though, really big, usually with ovens, and with tables for communal dining and hanging out. Bathrooms: On the main site, the bathroom situation is superb. Apart from one staircase in Chapel Court, which is where most of the first years live, every single room has an en suite.In the houses most bathrooms are shared between 3-4 people so, while not quite as nice as en suite, it’s not too shabby! Overall: Pretty dang good. You sort of have to choose between nice kitchen (the houses) and en suite (main site) but that’s hardly the worst choice to have to make in Cam accommodation wise!
Kings: In first year you have to chose between living in Spalding Hostel or Keynes Building. Spalding has proper kitchens with ovens, fridges, hobs ect but no ensuite bathrooms. You have to share a bathroom between about 4/5 people, but they’re pretty decent and spacious, and tend to be quite clean (but Spalding is known for having peoples things/ food constantly stolen from communal areas). Keynes building has A+ ensuites with a shower/bath and every room has a mini fridge. But the kitchen situation is a bit crappy, there are gyp rooms but they just contain a microwave, kettle and toaster and for some reason one gyp room on each floor has a hob, but the rest don’t. So basically first year = choice between ensuite OR a proper kitchen, however Keynes is directly above Hall and King’s food is really cheap and delicious so not a major issue. Everywhere else: King’s has a great choice in later years of accommodation and there is a huge variety of options. Most second years have proper kitchens and about half of them have ensuites (depending on ballot position) and then in third year everyone could get a room with kitchen access and an ensuite if they wish. Most third years live either in Bodley’s court, which is quite old, and so the kitchens are a bit crappy and tend to be quite small, ( but it is a super pretty building) or Market hostel (very modern, HUGE kitchens and A+ ensuites).
Medwards: Kitchens: First year everyone gets put in the same building (called pearl house), which has one pretty small kitchen per 16 people. Sounds like a lot, but i’ve never had problems with not being able to use the stove and i’ve never waited more than 5 minutes to use a microwave. The only issue tends to be that the fridge gets really full, but a lot of people do have mini fridges in their rooms, and you can usually find space.For second and third years, the kitchens are much, much nicer and larger, and used by fewer people! Kitchens are all cleaned daily (except over the weekends). Bathrooms: First years all have en-suite bathrooms.Second and third year, you can choose whether you want en suite or not (depends on where you are on the room ballot and how much you want to spend), but the shared bathrooms are all fairly nice, and cleaned daily again. Each room also has a large mirror and a sink.
Newnham: Lots of the rooms themselves are really lovely but overall, everything is a bit old and run down. There’s also no bedders for your room (although they clean the kitchens and bathrooms) so you have to clean it at the end of every term (and you always get fined, no matter how perfectly you clean it). Kitchens: The kitchens generally have ovens (except Peile), but no freezers. There’s also usually not that big fridges so fridge space gets pretty tight. But you are allowed to bring your own fridge/freezer so that helps. Bathrooms: The bathrooms are usually big communal ones for a whole corridor or block. There’ll be like several shower stalls and toilet stalls with up to 30 people sharing one bathroom. Overall: kitchens decent, bathroomsnot the dream.
Peterhouse: The kitchen/bathroom situation is not ideal but there’s tons of nice rooms with lots of amazing character so the overall accommodation isn’t too bad! After first year, accommodation is chosen based on a points system which is a combination of participation, both in college and within the wider university, and results. Most people live on their own but there’s also quite a few nice sets throughout college where you and your roommate each get your own bedroom but share a communal living room. Kitchens: The kitchens are mostly small gyp rooms with like a 2 hob camping stove type thing and pretty much no ovens anywhere. You’re also not allowed to fry things for some crazy insurance reason and there’s this evil woman who will confiscate your frying pans if she finds them. So there’s a lot of pasta that gets eaten. Bathrooms: There’s one block for freshers that’s ensuite but other than that very few en suites. But most bathrooms are only shared between like 4-5 people so it’s not so bad. Overall: The quality of the rooms is really nice, most are really old with cool architectural features like amazing fireplaces or sloping ceilings. The kitchen/bathroom situation isn’t ideal though.
Queens: Queens’ cooking facilities are not bad - you get a kettle, microwave, toaster and one of those portable hobs. There are also fridges although most gyps don’t have freezers. Pretty good but not very large so you can’t have three people cooking at once. Accommodation : most first years are in Cripps court, the rooms are pretty nice with an en suite or private external bathroom. Then in second and third year you still get to live in college. Second years mostly in fisher and then third years in erasmus/old court. There are other accommodation blocks, not too sure whether they’re filled with specific years.
Selwyn: All first years are in cripps court, with ensuite accommodation. There are 3 price brackets of rooms in first year (£128, £138 & £148), but pretty much everyone has the middle bracket, and the rooms are really comfy and everything got refurbished recently - the top floor gyps are great. The system for picking rooms in second years is to ballot as a group (however big), and then get put in a random order which gets reversed in third year, and the majority of second years are in Anne’s court (all ensuite), with pretty much everyone being in a group that they picked out. The second year accommodation does tend to be a bit pricier though, since the rooms in Anne’s are bigger. Third years usually go in old court, but there are very limited ensuites there. We also don’t have bedders, but cleaners do the gyps daily and the ensuites once a week.
Tit Hall: First year at Trinity Hall live on site, you’re right in the centre. Usually live in Avery court. The rooms come in a range of sizes. The cooking facilities aren’t good, but Hall is so close, as is the library. The new rooms at Wychfield and WYNG gardens are probably more comfortable in terms of ensuite etc, but this is probably the only year you get to live on central site in one of the prettiest colleges, so it comes with its benefits!
Are you allowed to walk on the grass? Which colleges allow you to?
Most colleges have at least a little grass you can walk on. At the newer colleges (medwards, girton, homteron, robinson, churchill) you can walk on most of the grass. Downing has a huge patch of grass we call the paddock that you can walk/play sports/eat meals on and lots of smaller courtyards which are walkable. Peterhouse has a decent sized deer park that’s walkable.
Any helpful experts care to share about the grass situation at your college?
Hello college match please? :D I'm introverted but I like going out a lot, just not too much. Hopefully onsite accommodation, and a college with a strong law fac and society. With pretty gardens, and near the city centre. I'm quite opinionated/ left-leaning so something not too stuffy and conservative. Some place with a chill environment! And not too academic. Tend to have many friends from diff cliques so I'm not sure if a big or small college is better. Thank you!
Omg definitely Kings. Like it was the first one that popped into my mind, I think it fits you really well! The law society is uni-based, and is really strong, so that’s not a big deal. Kings has very pretty gardens and is right in the centre of town. It’s also very heavily left-leaning and is probably the only college where politics is discussed regularly. It has a reputation for being opinionated, but it’s still chill and not massively academic either. Kings tends to go out a fair bit, but on different nights than the rest of the uni, and has quite an insular vibe. But yeah, definitely check out the tag to see if it’s a good fit. Just a note though: Kings is a Tier 1 and gets loads of applicants, so if your grades are a bit dodgy, you’d have a really high chance of being pooled.
Otherwise, Peterhouse – it’s tiny, so everyone knows each other, but it’s got gorgeous gardens (and a deer park! Though there are no actual deer there) and is fairly near the city centre. It’s got an alternative vibe and isn’t stuffy/conservative (despite it’s reputation) or too academic. Tit Hall is quite similar (very alternative, opinionated/left-leaning) but second-year accommodation is fairly far (approx 15-20 mins walk) from the main site.