The Best Student Bars in Cambridge
Check out our picks for the best student bars in Cambridge!
Given the city is home to England’s second-oldest university, it’s no surprise that there are some top student bars in Cambridge. Sip a pint in an ancient pub where some of Cambridge’s most brilliant minds used to hang out, soak up the homely atmosphere in one of the city’s college bars, or step in to a modern-day Motown shrine tucked away in a funky basement bar. With everything from swanky cocktail clubs and live jazz nights to bargain happy hours and talented local DJs, Cambridge has nightlife options to suit all budgets and musical tastes. Here’s our guide to Cambridge’s best student bars for blowing or saving that student loan!
The Eagle (££)
If sipping a pint in a 16th century pub where the discovery of DNA was announced sounds like your sort of thing, then don’t miss the Eagle right by Corpus Christi and King’s College. The Cavendish Laboratory used to be just around the corner and researchers would often pop in for lunch and a pint or two. In 1953 pub regulars Francis Crick and James Watson announced they had discovered “the secret of life”, also known as the double helix structure of DNA.
Today you can commemorate this historic moment by ordering a pint of the pub’s special ale called “Eagle’s DNA”. While you’re pondering the brilliant minds who once hung out in this ancient watering hole, make sure you check out the RAF bar which is covered with scrawls and drawings left by Second World War airmen.
It’s easy to while away the hours in the Eagle thanks to the homely vibe and fascinating photos of times gone by, but there’s no need to panic if you start to get peckish. The menu is classic pub grub dominated by comforting favorites like sausages and mash, fish pie and steak and ale pies which are all served up at reasonable prices. So kick back, tuck in and soak up the atmosphere of this unique Cambridge institution.
Clare Cellars (£)
The Clare College bar has earned a reputation as one of Cambridge’s best student bars for cheap drinks, good vibes and excellent live gigs. Tucked away in the crypts underneath Clare Chapel, this evocative space filled with ancient brick arches is the ideal intimate backdrop for some of the finest nights out in the city.
The best night to head down to Clare Cellars is for their Friday night extravaganza when a different DJ takes over the decks each week to keep things fresh and the party keeps going until late. Everything from hip hop and drum and bass to dubstep, electro and deep house is covered. There are often also live music nights featuring local bands which are well worth checking out like the regular Saturday night jazz gigs.
As you’d expect from a student-run college bar, the drinks options are limited with just a short list of draught and bottled beers, a couple of ciders, most mainstream spirits and house wine on offer. What more than makes up for this, though, is the budget-friendly drinks prices and the legendary £1.50 shots which should keep you up and dancing til the wee small hours!
Formerly known as The Vaults, this recently-reopened basement bar has a relaxed speakeasy vibe. Named after the address of the original Motown HQ at 2648 Grande Boulevard in Detroit, the bar was inspired by a love of Motown music and the idea of creating a welcoming atmosphere for people who want to forget about their troubles like that long-overdue essay.
The tone is set by vibrant posters from Motown’s heyday along with dim lighting and a classic cocktail menu. To make your student loan go further, be sure to head down between 5pm and 9pm from Monday to Friday when you can enjoy two cocktails for just £9.50. If you’re feeling peckish, try their incredible vegan burger from Doppelganger or taste something from one of their regular pop-up collaborators like Que Rico Tapas.
Those in the know make a beeline for the Secret Library hidden away behind a bookcase in the labyrinth of underground rooms. To enter you’ll need to sleuth out the door code, or just ask the friendly regulars for help! Once inside there are more rooms to explore and another cocktail bar with a quieter atmosphere for those looking for a place to catch up with friends or perhaps enjoy a romantic date night.
The Riverbar Steakhouse and Grill (££)
When in Cambridge, it’s almost a crime not to make the most of the iconic River Cam that runs right through the city. One of the coolest riverside hangouts is The Riverbar which is set in an old former quayside warehouse and boasts gorgeous views out over the water and Magdalene College on the opposite bank. The industrial chic decor fits nicely with the venue’s heritage and helps to give a bright and breezy feel which will keep you coming back for more.
Prices here are a little higher than many popular Cambridge student bars thanks to the charming location and top quality produce. On offer is an excellent choice of wines by the glass and a very long list of cocktails which start at £6.50. True romantics should head to the rooftop terrace at sunset to watch the last of the daylight slowly slip away over the city with a glass of Champagne in hand.
If you do fancy a bite to eat while you’re here, you’re in for a treat. Their signature dish is, of course, steak which is made from 28 day dry aged beef and there are eight different cuts on offer. Other great options include the Riverbar pies and burgers and their Roasted Artichoke Frittata for vegetarians.
When the weather is less cooperative, head to the Pickerel which is the perfect spot to hole up in on a chilly winter evening. This drinking den dates back to 1608 which makes the Pickerel the oldest licensed pub in Cambridge and according to local lore it was C.S. Lewis’ favourite pub! Rumour has it that the pub also has its own resident ghost, a former landlady who drowned in the river many years ago.
These days the friendly atmosphere and lovely staff draw a nicely mixed crowd of students, locals and passing tourists. Since the pub is right by Magdalene College it’s a favourite hangout for their sports teams so it can get a little rowdy at times! On cold nights get there early to grab seats by the open fire or head out to the charming beer garden if the sun is shining.
On the menu you’ll find a great selection of ales including the popular Nelson’s Revenge and Old Peculiar. They even have two ales brewed for them by Oakham, The Pickerel Aesops Luceus, and The Pickerel Biting Bitter, which are well worth trying. The food on offer is hearty pub fare with dishes like fish and chips and their pulled pork and wild boar burger proving very popular.
Lola Lo Cambridge (£)
If you fancy adding a tiki vibe to your night out, look no further than Lola Lo which is handily located right in the centre of town opposite the Cambridge Corn Exchange. This funky venue is full of tropical goodness from the moment you step through the door thanks to the rustic beach bar, staff in loud Hawaiian shirts and bamboo adhered to every available surface. If the sun is shining, head straight up to the stunning roof terrace to enjoy an al fresco drink or two and imagine you’re on holiday somewhere in the South Pacific.
The drink of choice at Lola Lo is one of their various tropical cocktails which come served up in everything from tiki flasks and coconuts to treasure chests and volcanoes. We highly recommend getting in there early on Friday and Saturday nights since 21:00 to 22:30 is the Lola Lo Happy Hour when you can pick up half price cocktails!
Another reason Lola Lo is one of Cambridge’s top student bars is due to their awesome loyalty scheme for students. All you need to do is download their app and you’ll get access to complimentary entry, £2.96 offers on selected cocktails, £1 fire shots, and £1.50 Jagerbombs!
Ta Bouche (££)
After a raucous night out, the perfect antidote is this friendly cafe bar in the city centre with a charming streetside terrace for those warmer days. Ta Bouche is a regular finalist for Cambridge’s “Bar of the Year” thanks to the welcoming vibe and top notch food and drinks offerings. Whether you stop by for a pre-lecture breakfast, a spot of lunch or a couple of drinks before heading to the clubs, the warm staff and unhurried atmosphere will make you feel right at home.
For those on a budget, don’t miss their Monday night offers when you can score £2.50 spirit and mixers and four Jagerbombs for just £10. You can also enjoy great discounts on selected cocktails and bottled beer from 5pm to 10pm Monday to Thursday and from 6pm to 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
Ta Bouche is also one of Cambridge’s favourite student bars thanks to their ReMix card which entitles students to 25% off drinks from Sunday to Thursday. All you need to do to get your hands on one is head down there with your student ID. The same offer applies at Ta Bouche’s sister restaurant and bar, La Raza, which does a fine line in delicious tapas and regular live music nights.
Hidden Rooms (££)
For nice nights out with the girls or that special date, funky underground bar Hidden Rooms ticks all the right boxes. Set in the impressive neoclassical Victorian Roman Baths which were built in 1863, this elegant cocktail lounge specialises in crafting unique concoctions to tickle your taste buds
Their menu offers a huge range of options to suit all palates, covering all the classics and including a few more unusual inventions as well. Fun choices include the “Marino Solero” made with rum, passoa, mango and Prosecco which is designed to channel the legendary Solero ice creams, and the “Cheeky Tarte” which is composed of flavoured vodka, Midori and lemonade.
Cocktail prices at the Hidden Rooms start at around £8.20, but on Friday and Saturday nights you can take advantage of their Cocktail Club offers which feature six selected cocktails at a discounted price. If you’d rather visit during the week, don’t miss their Thursday night shows which regularly feature award-winning musicians and even more excellent drinks offers.
There we go! That rounds up our picks of the best student bars in Cambridge. We hope you’ve enjoyed your read, check out some of our other posts to explore the nations favourite student bars in other cities.