Last year, I wrote my entire Undergraduate dissertation while sat at the exact same table in the Forum library. While it was a solid routine, it could be disheartening to be stuck in the same spot, especially when the sun was shining. However, campus buildings definitely aren’t for everyone; while I benefited from boring white walls to focus on my work instead of surroundings, changes of pace can work wonders for inspiration and memory cues. Below are six of my favourite places to study in Exeter, each featuring distinct perks for someone looking to escape campus. I’m planning to visit all of these whilst writing my Masters dissertation this summer!
The Glorious Art House
This Fore Street establishment is three floors (and a garden) of quirky pastel décor and delectable treats. The cakes are divine, and the Glorious Hot Chocolate – piled high with marshmallows, flake, and cream – is the best study fuel/reward I can imagine. While this popular spot sometimes fills up, it is never a noisy working environment once a table is obtained. Additionally, there is a little art gallery on the top floor, so you can take a break from studying by enjoying some local creations.
Pros: GLORIOUS hot chocolate, amazing cakes, other delicious food and drinks, quirky and colourful interior, super cute and cosy, relaxing vibe
Cons: Popular spot that fills up quickly, no WiFi
Exeter Phoenix Café
While the artsy types may already know this place well, this Gandy Street venue has a cheerful, bright bar and café area which is often very empty during the afternoons. The sleek yet comfy furnishings (sofas abound), combined with the ever-friendly staff and professional venue, strike a balance between cosy and workmanlike. If you need inspiration from an artistic setting – not to mention a lovely, spacious environment in which to enjoy tea and snacks if desired – it’s an excellent, quiet place to get busy with studying.
Pros: WiFi, very quiet, comfortable sofas, friendly staff
Cons: The café and bar are a bit on the pricey side
April and May are the months when Exeter becomes beautiful, and the university/universe conspire to keep us students indoors with essays during this time. It’s not fair. To combat cabin fever, Northernhay Gardens (near the Royal Albert Memorial Museum off Queen Street) is the perfect place to study in nature – well, a very manicured and flower-heavy version. If benches aren’t your thing, bring a blanket and spread out on the grass – where else is studying this informal? And the place is equally lovely with or without study buddies and snacks. If this park is a bit crowded, Bury Meadow Park (off New North Road) is a lovely, smaller, tree-filled alternative.
Pros: Airy, spacious, relaxing, no need to fight over tables or seats, (bring your own snacks)
Cons: Weather dependent, no WiFi
If a walk down to the Quay with your laptop and books isn’t too daunting, the Coffee Cellar is an excellent reward and a relaxing place to escape into your notes. With outdoor tables looking out at the river and cosy sofas and atmospheric lighting inside, it’s a winner whatever the weather. It can get busy around lunchtimes but if you’re there mid-morning to claim a spot (and start your daily caffeine intake) you’ll be fine. In addition to excellent coffee (soya options) you can fuel your studies with tea, paninis, and delicious baked goods. Warning: the carrot cake is dangerously delicious, massive, and highly addictive.
Pros: Wonderful homemade food and beverages, beautiful Quayside location, WiFi, comfortable sofas
Cons: Distance from campus/student houses
What this tiny establishment lacks in space, it makes up in personality. Wooden tables are crowded around each other outdoors and indoors, offering views of Central Station and the bakers hard at work making new cakes and loaves. The seats seem to be taken by locals more often than students, so if you’re worried about your friends distracting you (or vice versa) this is the perfect place to isolate yourself with a coffee and a cake while you work on your notes.
Pros: Excellent baked goods and coffee to fuel your studies, not often frequented by students
Cons: Small, can fill up quickly, near a busy road
George’s Meeting House
There may be too many associations with pub crawls to make this appealing, but if you’re in this South Street Wetherspoons before 5pm it is very quiet and surprisingly beautiful. There are several rooms to tuck yourself away in, and the décor beats most pubs in stateliness. Plus, cheap meals and beverages (and free WiFi) definitely aid studying. If you can’t be arsed to walk all the way down, the Imperial is a more familiar (but more crowded) option.
Pros: Lots of space, WiFi, cheap food and beverages, less frequented than the Impy
Cons: A boring ‘Spoons at the end of the day
Happy Revising!bookmark me