I often get asked by prospective students at Visit Days what the best halls are. The answer is, it totally depends what you want. Some people want an ensuite, some people want to be catered, some people want to live close to campus, others further away. However, you always have to be prepared to not get your first choice of accommodation, and although you may be disappointed by that, you are bound to get to love your new room.
I lived in Castle Leazes in first year, and had a single, catered room with washbasin. Although I didn’t want to be catered (due to having a severe nut allergy and loving cooking), it actually worked out quite well for me in the end. Getting up to a cooked breakfast (or toast/cereals) every morning (Monday to Friday) and getting a dinner in the evening (again only Monday to Friday) made life quite easy, and the kitchen facilities meant you could easily cook at weekends or whenever else you wanted.
Castle Leazes is probably the most sociable of halls in that it has a bar with TV, the dining halls, a little shop, and it is corridor style, rather than flats. During the winter we also had a lot of snow and the large field outside Castle Leazes gave several opportunities for snowball fights!
Being situated mostly in the Ridley Building and Dental School in first year meant that I could be at my lectures/labs within 10-15 minutes. Having a reception area meant that it was easy to get parcels delivered, as well as getting any problems sorted. A central laundry room, complete with dryers, washing machines and ironing boards (if you ever fancy doing ironing as a student!) also means you don’t have to go far to get your washing done.
Many people are nervous being in accommodation with shared bathrooms, but I can say that I never had a problem. My corridor had 3 showers and 2 toilets between 11 of us, and this may sound like this isn’t enough, but I never had to queue.
The rooms are also a reasonable size, meaning you have plenty of room to store everything you bring to uni with you, and for me having a washbasin in the room was a real bonus as it made washing up, getting a drink, and brushing your teeth really easy.
Although I didn’t get my first choice accommodation I can say that I was incredibly happy in Castle Leazes (the only thing I struggled with was noise when people came in after nights out, but I learnt to sleep through this by the end of the year) and I met many people there (some even on my course) who I have stayed friends with long after I left. Castle Leazes may be one of the old and less modern halls but it was great living there! I also had lovely views in the morning!