Welcome to Portswood: An exciting student guide to the good, the bad and the ugly side of Southampton

 Trago Lounge, Portswood | Image source:  Vanilla Bean

Trago Lounge, Portswood | Image source: Vanilla Bean

Have you just become a fresher in Southampton and are looking for places to visit? Or maybe you’re a bored second year student who has finally escaped the Students’ Union bubble. Portswood is the place in Southampton that you’ll hear every student rave about. We’ve put together a short guide to help you find everything you need.


Of course food is first on the agenda, if your day doesn’t revolve around what you’re eating next then are you really a student? Portswood offers a mixture of dining experiences including local restaurants and big food chains, so here are a few of the best.

Trago Lounge

You may have already visited one of the Lounges before as they have several locations each with a different name, but if you haven’t experienced the quirkiness of these restaurants, then get ready for a new favourite place to chill. Lounges are known for their eccentric furniture, from the battered sofas to the dozens of portraits covering the walls, there’s no doubt you’ll feel comfortable relaxing here whether you’re having a tapas lunch or sipping on cocktails. We recommend visiting on ‘Tapas Tuesday’ where you get three tapas and a glass of wine for £9.95. Trago also has a quiz Mondays at 8pm, with a cash prize for the winners!

Sprinkles Gelato

Although Sprinkles Gelato has over 15 locations across England, the company launched its first ever store in Portswood. If you and your uni friends are searching for something sweet, then this is the place to go to enjoy a whole lot of Italian goodness such as crepes, waffles, sundaes and milkshakes.

 7Bone Burger, Portswood | Image source  TC Marketing

7Bone Burger, Portswood | Image source TC Marketing

7Bone Burger

You might have moved to the south of England, but are you craving delicious American comfort food? 7Bone satisfies all your greasy junk food desires and makes a change from the same thing you’ve been ordering from McDonalds for the last 8 years. Don’t worry vegetarians, you can get your hands on a ‘Dirty Linda’ or a ‘Juicy Boris’ burger that will be just as tasty.

The Cowherds

Okay, it’s just outside of Portswood but it’s worth the walk to Southampton Common to visit this dog friendly pub. Students often head to The Cowherds on Sundays to devour their delicious roast dinners while gazing out onto picturesque surroundings and reflecting on the previous night’s regrets. Good food, good views, go visit.

Pubs and Clubs

This is probably what gives Portswood its reputation. Students find themselves moving to the area to be closer to the amazing social scene. So, are you ready to trade in sleep for partying?

Jesters (and Clowns)

 Jesters, Portswood | Image source Wessex Scene

Jesters, Portswood | Image source Wessex Scene

Even if you’re not a Southampton student, you’ve probably heard of this notorious place that’s been labelled ‘The Worst Nightclub in Britain’. Jesters has been compared to the feeling you get when watching a horror movie- you find the experience so disturbing but you enjoy the thrill of it. Although there is a bar above (Clowns), most students head straight to the foul-smelling dive of a basement that is Jesters, for super cheap drinks and banging tunes. It’s completely normal to find half-naked people dancing in here, you just need to embrace it!

The best bit of advice is to not put effort into your appearance. Don’t wear anything valuable as it will definitely get covered in colourful liquids. It’s even recommended to assign a pair of shoes as your ‘Jester Shoes’ as they’ll probably end up being left stuck to the floor anyway. This venue is somewhere to not take yourself too seriously, and getting kicked out would be something of an accomplishment. It might be worth investing in a Gold Card to save money on entry as you will find yourself returning here more than you would like to admit.

The Hobbit

 The Hobbit, Portswood | Image source  Wikipedia

The Hobbit, Portswood | Image source Wikipedia

Whether you’re a fan of the book/film series or not, The Hobbit has so much to offer that you will no doubt be hanging out in this pub more than once. With two bars and a large beer garden, this pub is often full to capacity with students and locals watching live music, performing at Open Mic Night, eating Bag End Burgers or drinking The Hobbit themed cocktails. The pub also hosts many different events, from Music Festivals to Cider Festivals, there’ll be something that shall have you passing through the threshold. Maybe you’ll be brave enough to take on the pub’s Fellowship Quest…


Located just a few doors down from Jesters is Sobar, another popular club for Southampton students. Sobar also offers reduced entry, you just need to purchase one of their wristbands. The drinks are celebrated for being cheap (although their Quadvod drink was banned so a triple vodka will have to suffice). You can expect to make a fool of yourself dancing to the standard club songs and remixes, but there’s also an outdoor area for those who actually want to hear each other speak. There’s lots of big student events at Sobar, so keep an eye on their Facebook page!

 The Bookshop Alehouse, Portswood | Image source  Southampton Pubs Blog

The Bookshop Alehouse, Portswood | Image source Southampton Pubs Blog

The Bookshop Alehouse

Open midday-11pm every day, this cosy venue might not be the standard student hangout, but it’s worth visiting this pub inside a bookshop to experience the local ales and beers of Southampton. You can at least try to look cultured.


Being a student has you worrying about your appearance half of the time, and the other half not caring about washing your hair for a week straight. For those times when you want to put effort into your look, we’ve got you covered.


A very popular gentleman's groomers and barbers in Portswood with 25% discount for students! Jays can be open up until 8pm on most days, for those last minute haircuts before a night out.


 Jays Barbers, Portswood | Image source  Jays Barbers

Jays Barbers, Portswood | Image source Jays Barbers

Element is a very stylish unisex hairdressers with 15% student discount Sundays-Fridays, so don’t forget those student cards.

Innervision Hair

Although student offers are only available Wednesday and Thursday from 12-5pm, it’s worth keeping those days free for a cheaper price on professional treatment. Innervision Hair does not only have experienced hairdressers, but also beauty therapists, offering treatments from waxing to tanning.

Health and Fitness

University is all about trying to become independent and balance your life without running to your parents, right? We know you would have probably done a week’s workout while jumping around in Jesters, but if you’re looking for something different to keep fit, then why not try these…

Portwood Yoga Class

After a fun first year of uni, deadlines and other stresses can hit you hard, so take an hour here and there to join a friendly atmosphere of flexible people and say namaste to the essay you’ve only written the title for. The classes encourage regular practise to help lose weight, improve posture and unwind after a hard day!

Pole Position

If you’re not really a gym bunny but would like to keep fit with mates and have a laugh then you should try pole dancing. Pole Position welcomes everyone of all shapes, sizes and genders, while offering a mix of classes from beginners to aerial hoop lessons. Students receive AMAZING discounts to not only use at Pole Position, but at other places such as gyms and nightclubs. Students can even go onto represent their university in competitions both locally and internationally!



For the bits in between eating and clubbing…

Portswood Library

It may not have the best opening times for you to write an essay the night before, but it’s a library no less! Located on Portswood Road, you can’t miss this building, so take yourself away from distractions and hit the books.


You don’t need to worry about walking miles with your hands full of shopping or spending a fortune on taxis. The area has several shops to purchase all your midnight snacks including; Sainsburys, Tesco Express, Aldi, Iceland, Farmfoods, and for the fancier student, Waitrose.

Atlantic Dry Cleaners

Whether you risked wearing your favourite shirt to Jesters or need a fancy suit cleaned before the Freshers’ Ball, Atlantic promises to clean your laundry to a high standard, and they even have great offers so you won’t need to go into that overdraft.

Portswood might be the marmite of places in Southampton, but you’ll definitely have an unforgettable experience and make lots of friends in the over-friendly bars. Remember to use your student discount where possible and to leave the high heels at home. We’ll see you for a cocktail in The Hobbit.