Student City Guide: Get To Know Sheffield, Nottingham and Birmingham

Summer is drawing to an end, the days are getting shorter and, for all you students out there, the new term is getting closer. In fact, for some, it’s already started! To help you freshers settle in to your new uni towns wherever they may be, we’ve put together the second instalment of our weekly Student City Guide series. We’ll be covering all the major student destinations in every corner of the UK, from Newcastle to Exeter, and this week we’re bringing you recommendations for the best cafes, bars and activities across the midlands (passed on to us by students themselves!). So, if you’re enrolling at universities in Sheffield, Nottingham or Birmingham soon, this one’s for you…


Cafe: Nice Neighbourhood


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Although the café is at the heart of Nice Neighbourhood, the spot would be best described as a creative community space equipped with hipster work areas and event venue rooms. This place is always buzzing with people chatting over a coffee, enjoying a chilled post-uni drink, listening to live music or getting clued up at industry panel events.

Bar: Abbeydale Picture House Social


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Located in the former ballroom and billiard hall of Abbeydale Picture House, the Picture House Social bar is hands down one of the coolest spots to grab a drink in Sheffield. Granted, it’s a bit of a walk from the main campus, but it makes up for that with it’s fairy-light adorned private terrace and games room that houses multiple ping-pong tables.

Activity: Mayfield Alpacas


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Did you know, research shows that pets and animals have a mood-boosting power that helps to alleviate stress? So, heading over to the Mayfield Alpaca farm is a great way to enjoy nature and get some respite from the (sometimes overwhelming) high energy of the first weeks of university. Alpacas are the main attraction, but you can also expect to see reindeers, meerkats, exotic birds and much more…


Café: Boston Tea Party


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The Birmingham branch of this small independent café chain – which features cool checkerboard flooring, sun drenched sofa seating and the tastiest variety of cakes – is to die for. The menu is dreamy: over half of it is vegan or vegetarian meanwhile all the meat and eggs are free range. Plus, the cafe completely stopped using single use coffee cups in summer 2018, so don’t forget your reusable cup if you’re on the go!

Bar: Gas Street Social


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Located on the edge of Birmingham’s Mailbox mall overlooking the canal, Gas Street Social is the best place for sipping on cocktails with the girls and laughing over all the funniest first year stories you have! The sharing ‘social plates’ are perfect for evening plans and they also claim that their bottomless brunch is the stuff of legends. You can be the judge of that…

Activity: Digbeth Dining Club


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If you’re a foodie, you’re going to love this! Within just one year of opening in 2012, Digbeth Dining Club was voted the best street food event in the UK and often houses Michelin star chefs as well as undiscovered food enthusiasts. It’s located in Digbeth (which FYI was voted the coolest place in the UK by the Times) and runs every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday till late. Top tip: be sure to check out the record shop upstairs.


Café: Coco Tang


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Coco Tang is not just your standard café. It’s nestled on the first floor of the building in a Vietnamese-style outdoor roof garden in a space decked out with tropical trees in Vietnamese planters (all exported from Ho Chi Minh City), bespoke wall art created by street artist Matetwo and repurposed 1950s tiles. Needless to say we’re giving it full marks for aesthetic! The food is equally impressive: coffee is roasted on site each day and there’s a wide range of tasty Asian dishes to tuck into.

Bar: Another?


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Head over to Another?, Nottinghams first self-serve wine bar, if you fancy some vino after a long day of introductory lectures and course meet-and-greets! They give you a card upon arrival and this activates the various dispensing machines where you can pick from over 30 wines and serve yourself 25ml, 125ml, or 175ml glasses. Then you just pay the tab at the end. Lovely.

Activity: Penny Lane


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Nottingham might be far from the coastline but that hasn’t stopped the owners of Penny Lane from opening a seaside-style arcade right in the centre of town! It’s got all the nostalgic neon-lit arcade games like the classic 2p coin-pusher, fish and chips small plates and soft-serve ice cream. The only thing missing is the smell of salty water and the sound of seagulls…