We use cookies to allow us and selected partners to improve your experience and our advertising. By continuing to browse you consent to our use of cookies. You can understand more and change your cookies preferences here.

Should you choose catered or self-catered accommodation?

When you're deciding on which halls of residence to choose, you might be given the option of catered accommodation or cooking for yourself. So which one's right for you?

We asked current students to share their views on the catered versus self-catered debate. We've also got loads of advice on deciding which student accommodation option is right for you  and tips on applying for halls

Go catered!

No big spends in the supermarket

I was in catered halls and it is definitely worth the money. It doesn't mean you're posh, it means you know you are going to be fed three times a day and having this security when you have no money is great in your first year as you begin to find your feet as a grown up. Food is just typical school food. Lunch is great because there are so many different choices on campus. Third Year English Student | University Of Liverpool

Less time cooking, more time settling in 

Great for socialising and making new friends, so if you think you can eat the food for the year, definitely go. The accommodation there is of good standard and you save yourself a lot of time and energy cooking when often you don't know how to cook. Especially useful in first few months when you're concentrating on settling in, making friends, working out what you're supposed to be doing with work. Fifth Year Medicine Student | University Of Edinburgh

Don't have a place in halls for first year? You still have options, take a look...

The food can actually be quite tasty!

The college kitchens usually provide all meals, but this can mean student kitchen facilities are not well equipped. I didn't mind this though because college food was always convenient, delicious and reasonable value for money. Fourth Year Physics Student | University Of Cambridge

Learned something useful?
Get more tips for applying to uni, right when you need them most. Add yourself to our email list.
Our emails are packed with advice for getting in and getting on at uni, along with useful information about other Which? Group products and services that can help you make good decisions.
  • No spam and you can unsubscribe at any time - see our privacy policy.
    Close panel
    Thank you!
    You’re all signed up. Look out for your welcome email from us shortly.
    Oh, no!
    Sorry, there's been an error. If you experience persistent problems, please contact us at whichuniversity@which.co.uk
    Try again


    Cook for yourself

    No set meal times, more freedom

    I much prefer self-catered since you have a bit more independence. You can cook and eat when you want. On catered halls, they have set times for breakfast and supper. Although cooking all your meals can be a pain especially when you're tired and hungry, there are quick meals you can make like pizzas, etc. Second Year Physics Student | University Of Nottingham

    It’s a life skill – and it works out cheaper

    Non-catered halls are a better choice since catered halls don't have a real kitchen and you can't prepare anything apart from microwave food outside meal times and cooking for yourself is much cheaper and something you have to learn anyway for later in life. However, even the self-catered halls often don't have plates, pots etc. in the kitchen, so you'll need to buy the basics. First Year English Student | University Of Aberdeen

    Freshers' survival: student cooking mistakes to avoid


    The kitchen is a social hotspot!

    My halls also include shared kitchens which I would recommend, even if you don't like cooking, as it's a great communal area you don't get in the catered accommodation. Plus, if you are rubbish at cooking you can still make use of the cafe. First Year Psychology Student | University Of Winchester

    Still not sure?

    Think about your priorities. If you want the convenience of having your dinner cooked for you (and no washing up!) and not having to worry about budgeting for food shopping, catered halls could be a good choice for you.

    On the other hand, if you want to become a better cook and have the freedom to eat whenever you like, then self-catered accommodation is likely to suit you best. 


    Search Which? University

    Find further advice or search for information on a course or university

    Expert tips for uni - straight to your inbox
    Free to students, teachers and parents
    Sign me up