While the process of choosing which university is best for you is heavily influenced by factors such as course types, module options and table rankings, there are other things to consider when deciding where you are going to spend the next three or more years of your life. It’s important not to underestimate the role of the humble public house, not only as a place to go to hang out in the evenings, but also as an enjoyable place to go for food, and even to study. Here are the key components to what makes a great student pub, with plenty of examples thrown in along the way.

Beer gardens

During those long beautiful days in spring while exams are looming, what better way to take a break from studying than by spending your time in a chilled beer garden with your fellow deadline-avoiding friends? If you fancy a walk or cycle through the park, Brewhouse & Kitchen is the perfect spot for a well-earned lunch and pint of craft ale. Located in Sophia Gardens, just outside of Bute Park, this pub has a spacious, dog-friendly patio beer garden on the front. They even brew their own beers, and what better way to enjoy them than basking outside in the sunshine?

Reward schemes

For students, when money is often tight, a useful thing to look for in a pub is a reward scheme. Being able to collect reward points on food and drink purchases encourages money-conscious customers to return to the same pub over and over, rather than visiting somewhere new. And whilst you’re there, you’re more likely to make more purchases.

The two pubs with the best rewards are the Woodville and Gassy’s, which are both part of the More Reward scheme. With customers being able to collect points and redeem them against food and drinks (including alcohol), this is a great way to get rewarded for buying pints you were most certainly going to purchase anyway.

On the More Reward scheme, you gain 10 points for every pound spent, and will earn double points on Mondays. The perfect revision snack to redeem your points with at these two pubs has to be the Ultimate Sharing Tray (sharing is optional!). The platter includes chicken goujons, wings, onion rings and garlic bread, to name just a few elements, making it the perfect way to refuel during long study days.

Balance between quiet time (allow you to bring work) and busy society nights

Sometimes the library can be too dull and uninspiring to spend every single study day there, so the pub is a refreshing alternative. However, when those essay deadlines are looming, studying at a pub will only work if it doesn’t get overcrowded during the day, and it must also have comfortable yet motivating work spaces. That said, when the evening comes around, the mark of a good pub lies in its buzzing atmosphere (especially on society nights). Is there a pub that can do both?

Gassy’s is our champion in this area. This pub has plenty of work benches upstairs as well as tucked away corners on the ground floor to provide the perfect essay-writing set up. Hook up to their surprisingly fast and reliable Wi-Fi and get those deadlines smashed. On the flip side, Gassy’s is also the place to be for society nights, with a spacious main room that holds regular open mic nights. 

Live sports

We all know that rugby is the sport of Wales. In fact, rugby is said to be the primary thing that unites people in Wales. A fantastic way to soak up a city’s true atmosphere is to get involved in their sports. And while getting muddy on the pitch might not be for everyone, there is always the opportunity to support Cardiff’s players from a comfy seat at the pub.

The Mackintosh is perhaps the least ‘studenty’ feeling pub in Cathays, but it is the place to be on match days, when both of its large rooms fill up with rugby fans. The back room is notoriously the noisier side, with a jukebox, snooker table and abundance of TV screens. This is where you’ll find many of your classmates on match days, so it’s the next best thing to Principality.


Sometimes it’s not so much about grabbing that beer, or G&T, or VK (if you must). After a particularly lively night (think lazy Thursday afternoons after a night at Cardiff University’s notorious YOLO club night, if you can forgive the name), a decent burger and chips is the answer to every problem.

The best place for seriously good pub grub is undoubtedly the Old Market Tavern, located in central Cardiff, just a stone’s throw from St David’s Hall. They offer a burger and drink from as little as £7.25, all day every day, and there is a huge variety of burgers to choose from. A personal favourite is the chargrilled chicken burger with bacon and BBQ sauce, but you can always experiment with The Big Brunch burger (which includes a fried egg), or the Triple House, made up of a beef patty, grilled chicken fillet and a southern fried chicken fillet.