Best Student Bars in Exeter
Check out our picks for the best student bars in Exeter!
Here we go. It’s our picks for the best student bars in Exeter! Although Exeter might be one of the UK’s smaller cities, it certainly isn’t lacking in exciting nightlife options. The gorgeous ancient city centre is packed with characterful drinking holes and live music venues, while the Quayside is known for its elegant eateries and waterside bars which are the perfect place to enjoy an al fresco pint on those rare sunny Exeter days.
Here’s our pick for the best student bars in Exeter for enjoying great music, bargain drinks prices, flamboyant cocktails, or just a nice quiet pint with your mates!
The Old Firehouse (££)
The Old Firehouse is one of Exeter’s top student bars thanks to the persistent rumour that former Exeter Uni student J.K. Rowling based The Leaky Cauldron on this very drinking den. Whether it’s true or not, the similarities are striking with the warm staff, welcoming common room vibe, and cosy candlelit layout spread over three floors.
Sadly they don’t serve Butterbeer, but you will find one of Exeter’s finest selections of ales and a whole array of unusual ciders with flavours like watermelon and elderflower. What really draws the student crowds here is the cheap drinks prices, regular live gigs with local musicians and the Old Firehouse’s legendary huge pizza baskets. If you’re feeling peckish, there’s also a decent lunch menu of British pub classics like Devon Ham, Egg and Chips, Mac’n’Cheese, and Fish and Chips which start from £7.50.
When the weather’s good, the outside courtyard is the perfect spot for a chilled pint or two with your mates, while come wintertime you’ll want to snuggle up inside and have a go at their weekly Monday night quiz. Those of you who think you’ve got talent will want to check out their regular Open Mic nights. Anyone with the guts to perform gets a free pint!
The Imperial (£)
When you’re a student, often the best bar is the one that’s right on your doorstep. This is certainly true for “The Impy”, as it’s affectionately known, which mere minutes from Exeter Uni and several halls of residence. Thanks to the handy location it does get very busy after lectures, but luckily there’s never a long wait for drinks as there’s a total of three bars inside the building.
In the summertime everyone heads to the beer garden which is always packed with students enjoying the rare British sunshine and modest drinks prices. They also do a good range of hearty pub classics like burgers, pizzas and cooked breakfasts which are dished out in generous portions for great prices.
As one of Exeter’s favourite student bars, The Impy is the kind of place you’re sure to run in to someone you know which makes for a really fun and sociable atmosphere. There’s also added charm from period features like the light-filled domed orangery which dates back to The Impy’s previous life as a hotel during the 1800s.
On The Waterfront (££)
If you’re after a nice cold brew with a stunning view, look no further than this waterside bar which is housed in a gorgeous 19th century warehouse on the Exeter Quayside. The star attraction is the waterfront terrace which can be enjoyed year-round thanks to the patio heaters and cosy blankets.
When you can drag yourself away from the pretty vistas outside, make sure to step inside and discover the quirky interior decor which lies somewhere between an intimate boudoir and chic minimalist industrial space. There’s a dedicated cask ale bar in here with three house ales on offer as well as a guest ale which changes every month.
On The Waterfront also offers exquisite dining options ideal for a romantic date night or when your parents are in town and footing the bill. Top options include their speciality “dustbin lid” 16-inch pizzas which are great for sharing between a couple of hungry mates. If you’re eating out on a budget, check out their Tapas & Wine deal which runs all day from Monday to Thursday. For just £12.95 you can feast on three exquisite tapas dishes washed down with a nice glass of house wine.
This chic continental-style cafe bar is the perfect
Exeter student hang out thanks to its long opening hours and buzzing vibe whatever time of the day you drop by. Situated just minutes from Exeter Cathedral in the heart of the old city, it’s the ideal spot for a steaming cup of speciality coffee and pastry on your way to lectures or a quick and delicious light lunch of paninis or freshly made salads.
As well as being a “Cathedral to coffee” according to Caffeine Magazine, Artigiano’s second love is craft beers. On offer are classics like Brewdog’s Punk IPA and Snake Dog from the Flying Dog Brewery alongside unusual bottles sourced from breweries as far away as Iceland and their very own Artigiano craft beer and cider which are available on tap. There’s also a good selection of well-made cocktails and a nice list of wines by the glass.
After dark, the tempo steps up a notch with great live music and a young and hip crowd enjoying a little downtime after a long hard day. Thanks to the unpretentious yet chic vibe, Artigiano tends to draw a mix of students and young professionals seeking a relaxed place to unwind and catch up with mates. Top nights to head down there include Mondays and Tuesdays when there’s often live jazz and great offers like 2 for £12 on cocktails and £10 beer and pizza deals.
The Mill on the Exe (££)
If your scene is more picturesque country pub than hip city bar, it’s well worth making the time to visit this peaceful spot tucked away by the Millstone footbridge on the River Exe. Come summertime, the Mill is an idyllic spot for a lazy Sunday lunch eaten outside on the large patio by the water.
The carvey is available all day so there’s no excuse for late risers, and active types can walk off some of those calories with a stroll along the scenic Exe Estuary Trail after you’ve demolished your roast. In the warmer months, the Mill puts on their popular barbecues which draw huge crowds of ravenous locals. Make sure to reserve ahead if you plan to join the feast as tables fill up really quickly!
Also available is a comprehensive menu of classic British pub fare featuring hearty burgers, beer-battered cod and chips, ploughman’s lunch, and sweet treats like sticky toffee pudding and fruit pavlova. The Mill is a St Austell Brewery pub, so the drinks offerings have a decidedly Cornish flair. On tap you’ll find Tribute, Korev, and Cornish Rattler and there’s a good choice of bottled ciders, classic cocktails and locally-produced gins at reasonable prices. A great chilled out vibe has landed this spot on our best student bars in Exeter list.
The Terrace (££)
The Terrace has a bit of a reputation as a place to see and be seen in Exeter thanks to their gorgeous rooftop bar. With charming vistas over the ancient centre of the city, it’s the ideal spot to impress your hot date or spend a few hours sipping cocktails and catching up with the girls. If you fancy something a bit more lively, head down on Friday nights for their club lounge sessions with awesome DJ sets. The weekend is dedicated to their popular Sunday Sessions which feature live music, scrumptious roasts, and the option to enjoy a bottomless brunch!
Surprisingly for such a chic and trendy place, prices are easily compatible with a student budget. Enjoy two-for-one on cocktails from 5pm to 7pm and £3 offers on glasses of Prosecco, wine and selected beers. Their set menu offers outstanding value with two courses for £12 or three for £15 from Monday to Thursday. You can also get 50% of all their burgers every Wednesday from midday to 10pm!
If you’re feeling flush with student loan cash or your parents are in town, check out their impressive a la carte menu which features classic dishes made with seasonal ingredients. Top picks include the West Country loin of lamb and their Best of the West 8oz sirloin steak followed by orange crème brûlée or coconut & mango panna cotta.
Doctor Ink’s Curiosities (£££)
After something a bit more quirky? Check out this cool cocktail bar at the Quayside which is set in the charming environs of the Grade II-listed Old Customs House. Heavy patterned curtains and dark wood panels give this trendy drinking hole the atmosphere of a comfortable Victorian parlour where hipster mixologists work their magic with the strangest of ingredients.
Since this isn’t your typical bar, the menu comes presented as a curious journal updated every few months which chronicles Doctor Ink’s fabulous adventures. Each cocktail is accompanied by a fun short story, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself reading the whole thing from cover to cover! If you’re struggling to choose, don’t be shy to ask the friendly mixologists for help. They’ll even whip up something just for you, so long as it was invented before the 1950s!
Interesting options include the “Red Herring” which doesn’t actually contain any fish, but rather is made with dill-infused gin, vermouth and a mixed berry shrub, and the delicate “China Shop” which is composed of pickled berry and pear liqueur, mint syrup and Buffalo Trace. While the drinks here might not be cheap with prices starting at £8.00 per cocktail, the originality, quality of ingredients and talent of the bar staff at Doctor Ink’s mean it’s the ideal place to splash a bit of cash for a truly memorable evening.
Cosy Club (££)
Set in the wing of an old hospital, the Cosy Club also checks the quirky box with an eclectic decor which combines original features with fun modern touches. Punters enter through the former chapel into a light and airy hall filled with tables. The huge space houses both a bar and a restaurant, and there’s also a pleasant terrace out the back if you fancy drinking al fresco.
The homely environment is perfect for hanging out with mates over a couple of drinks or a leisurely brunch. Prices might be a little higher than other popular Exeter student bars, but there’s a good selection of offers to keep you in the black. Grab a brunch dish and hot drink for £7.95 from 9am to 11:30am during the week, or get two cocktails for £9.95 between 4pm and 8pm from Sunday to Thursday.
Top picks from their drinks menu include the mouthwatering Lime Curd Caipirinha, boozy Watermelon & Basil Iced Tea for balmy days, and the intriguing Magic Rock High Wire Grapefruit Pale Ale. There’s also a decent selection of draught ales and ciders as well as a couple of guest craft ales which change regularly so there’s always something new to try.
There we go! That rounds up our picks of the best student bars in Exeter. We hope you’ve enjoyed your read, check out some of our other posts to explore the nations favourite student bars in other cities.