The Alternative Freshers Guide to Southampton

Yesterday, we covered a selection of Soton’s nightspots in our handy guide for Freshers (which can be seen here) but now it’s time for the Soton Tab’s alternative listings. DAY […]

Yesterday, we covered a selection of Soton’s nightspots in our handy guide for Freshers (which can be seen here) but now it’s time for the Soton Tab’s alternative listings.


Anybody familiar with Winchester will doubtless be wondering why it’s included in alternative guide to Southampton,  but as the picturesque ancient capital of England hosts University of Southampton facilities and is a popular tourist location, “the perfect English city” seemed worth a mention.

Winchester Cathedral in the evening

Winchester Cathedral, one of the largest and architecturally impressive in England.

Winchester’s primary attraction is its heritage and you’re only ever a stones throw away from resplendent historical buildings, from the strikingly beautiful architecture of Winchester Cathedral, to The Great Hall which purports to host the Round Table of King Arthur. Although entry costs a few pounds, they’re worth seeing if you have the time and inclination to understand more about Hampshire’s history.

Winchester is also a great shopping and leisure location, boasting more pubs per square mile than any other English city. Although drink prices are too expensive for the regular student budget, Winchester is a perfect place for a pub crawl on rare occasions and a refreshing break from the bustle of Southampton’s student bars.

The Beatnik Emporium:
The Beatnik Emporium is a vintage clothing store on Above Bar Street, Southampton, opposite the cenotaph and a few doors up from The Art House. The shop is open Monday to Saturday: 10:00-17:30 for students to trawl its impressive collection for quirky, electic clothing.

Beatnik Emporium, Southampton's faithful purveyor of vintage clothes.

Shopping in The Beatnik Emporium has the feel of getting lost in an enlargened wardrobe, and it’s dangerously easy to steam through a whole hour browsing its rails, crammed with striking dresses, jumpers, trousers and fancy dress items which cater for multiple tastes.

Remarkably for a vintage fashion store, the prices are reasonable and I’ve managed to amass several quality items below the price of £20, making it a cheaper and more lucrative place to shop than many of the chain stores hosted by West Quay.


Peter Rhodes Books

Peter Rhodes Books, Southampton's only antiquarian book store.

The sight of Hartley library, the John Smith campus store and Amazon’s book section may leave you despairing at the thought of reading, but if you stop off at 21 Portswood road, a few doors down from Champagne Charleys, you may find yourself taken by some of the cheaper texts sold in Southampton’s only remaining antiquarian bookshop.

Peter Rhodes Bookshop was established in 1995 and is one of just a few remaining rare bookshops in the Hampshire area.

We buy and sell rare books, photographs, maps, manuscripts, stamps and share certificates. We have a wide range of titles in the shop and over 11,000 books listed online.” –

The store, open Tues – Sat: 10am – 5pm, also hosts coffee and wi-fi facilities.

The Art House:

The Art House, open Tues, Sat & Sun: 12am – 5pm and Wed, Thurs & Fri: 11am – 9.30pm, is a not-for-profit ‘gallery-cafe’ started in 2008 to “Promote the Arts; Enhance our local and global community; Encourage positive, healthy and sustainable living” and is a community sustained mostly by the efforts and contributions of its hard working volunteers.

The Art House, "Community run - for love, not for profit"

Over the past four years, The Art House has been a successful social enterprise, providing space for a vibrant, flourishing arts scene in Southampton.

It has workshop, gallery, and socialising facilities, which host a variety of events ranging from poetry evenings, art exhibitions, reading groups, environmental awareness talks and workshops.

The beautifully decorated cafe provides gorgeous, affordable ethical food and drink and has a charming, eclectic atmosphere.




The Guide Dog

The Guide Dog, a "a single roomed, classic small back street town" pub

The Guide Dog, crowned South Hampshire CAMRA pub of the year for three consecutive years, is a very homely watering hole, managed by Paul and Margaret who “offer a warm welcome and friendly atmosphere.” Although it’s popular mostly with older and mature students, the venue is perfect for the student who wants somewhere to drink without noise or fuss.

The Guide Dog’s website cites a varied, changing range of real ales as the primary attraction and it’s a place where you can retract in to a corner to flick through a paper with your pint and enjoy have a small night out with friend,  without the invasive noise of chart music and tanked up freshers.

The Dungeon
It’d be blasphemous to write an alternative guide to Southampton without mentioning The Dungeon, or “The Dinge” to the intitated. The Dungeon, open Tue-Thu: 21:00 – 02:00 and Fri-Sat: 20:00-02:00, is a two floor club in Bevois Valley. The venue has with an upstairs pub and downstairs dance floor, stylized to look like a Dungeon, unsurprisingly, clad with bars and dark corners often occupied lovingly by members of Southampton University’s Rock Soc.

'The Dinge', a stalwart of Southampton's alternative music scene

Although its rock, metal and alternative niche isn’t for everybody, students of all musical tastes can enjoy its spirited and unpretentious atmosphere, especially on Wednesday nights when ‘dungeon delights’ and doubles of £1.20 are swigged to the tunes of dependable cheese music and rock, ska and punk classics.

The Dungeon is an obvious candidate when deciding where to spend Halloween and has been responsible for some of the best New Years I’ve ever had.

The Hobbit

Whilst the friendly Hobbit staff are still embroiled in the petty quarrels of Hollywood lawyers, the traditional English pub is still very much open for business and needs locals’ continued custom and support. The pub’s website accurately describes the appeal as “Live music, real ales, hobbit cocktails, massive garden and atmosphere.”

The Hobbit Loyalty Card, £10 from Freshers week onwards.

The star attraction for students is the fellowship, a collection of slightly expensive but divine cocktails and shots named after characters in the Tolkien mythos. Last year, students who completed the fellowship were rewarded with a Hobbit t-shirt and to 2012 freshers the pub is offering a reasonably priced loyalty card which “presented with photo ID will give you numerous discounts between October 2012 to September 2013.” 

The pub has a spacious, staggered beer garden and a great chef called Bernie, who sells authentic Caribbean food for reasonable prices and, permanently happy, is an absolute pleasure to do business with.