Catered vs. Self-Catered

Catered or self-catered accommodation?

It’s the age-old question. One of the biggest debates in University life. Those who choose to live on campus flock to their dining halls twice a day, while self-catered students turn their kitchens into their own mini social hub. So which is better? The Tab gives you all the info. . .


Let’s be honest, the first reason we chose catered accommodation is because we can’t cook. Or is it because we can’t be bothered to cook? Same difference.

The first year of Uni isn’t about learning new skills in the kitchen; it’s about ordering pizza at 4am with your new drunk best buds in the JCR. And what’s a better hangover cure than sausage and bacon rolls in the canteen at breakfast?

Oh, and let’s not forget falling out of bed to the tune of your wretched alarm clock and staggering the very short distance across campus to your lectures. It’s times like these when you see your worse for wear mates from Broadgate and thank heavens that you don’t have to walk as far as those suckers.

Florence Boot Hall, just a short walk to lectures

Florence Boot Hall, just a short walk to lectures

But, later on in the year when you’ve started to pile on the pounds, you realise that clambering your way up to the top of Portland for your regular remedy of Chicken Joe’s is NOT enough daily exercise.

And I’m not going to lie, the food is pretty bad in catered halls and takes you back to the old days of naff school dinners, but it doesn’t stop people from piling their plate like it’s an all you can eat buffet.

First year is about excess. Take my advice and make the most of it while you can because you have another two years to slave away over the stove. Or in my case survive on cheap microwave meals!



I lived on self-catered Broadgate Park (full of tits, fanny and football if the chants are to be believed) in my first year at Nottingham and didn’t regret a single bit of it.

Cooking for yourself means you can eat WHATEVER you like, WHENEVER you like. There are no repetitive cycles of hall dinners that I’ve heard mainly involve potatoes in lots of different forms and if you want a roast dinner at 4am, nothing (except maybe good sense) can stop you!

You can also have your mates over for a sociable meal; doing flat Come Dine With Me is a great week’s entertainment. Being shoved into a flat of six means there’s always someone to talk to – the girls I lived with in first year became my best friends at university.

The point is being self-catered is a lot less isolated. Plus, you don’t have to walk across the downs. Trust me, they are a bitch in the snow.

Your kitchen may get a little messy...

Your kitchen may get a little messy…

Sometimes, though, you can’t really be arsed to cook ANOTHER dinner. Try and get a cooking buddy in your flat so you can once a week cook for each other!

You’ll also end up hanging out in your kitchen a lot – there’s not really a big social space in self-catered flats so hanging by the hob will be your new go-to hot spot.

Your flatmates become quite distracting. You say to yourself you’ll leave said happening kitchen to go do some work but a day will very quickly go by with no productivity minus watching cat videos together.

And, realistically, you can’t just roll out of bed and go to lectures. You do have to factor in journey time and any walks of shame unless they are in your halls will take forever and be rather humiliating.