It’s only fitting to start with the infamous Oak House. We’ll begin with the positives.
First, Oak House actually has nice kitchens. This might come as something of a shock, given that most people know Oak House specifically because of its dirty, cramped, objectively ugly kitchens. But hear me out…
The kitchens are unintimidating, the perfect vessel for bunting décor, posters, and fairy lights. With old-school and quite large windows, it’s usually nice and light. Okay, you might get the occasional wasp (or seven) flying about; okay, fruit flies will become the added tenants in your flat, and yes, the cookers probably are 70 years old. But it’s part of the Oak House charm.
You will grow to love your little mint green box room. But don’t say you haven’t been warned: it is tiny. Like very, very small. If you’re expecting to enjoy a nice big room at uni, it’s probably best to look elsewhere. Then again, it’s bigger than Richmond’s rooms.
It is also very, very noisy. The walls are so thin that you can literally hear every move and whisper. Your flatmate singing in their room will become the soundtrack of your life (regardless of whether they can sing well or not). So will the incessant shagging at 4 am. Not ideal.
While the stereotyped Oak House ex-private school gal/guy holds up, it’s a pretty mixed bag of people in reality. The best thing about Oak is the price. Cheap, fun, and (generally) cheerful. Just be sure to buy some ear plugs, or better still, noise-cancelling headphones. Sleep is highly underrated in Oak House.
Richmond Park is made up of two courts: Willow and Poplar. They are pretty much identical. The kitchens in Richmond are HUGE, in comparison to most uni accommodations. It has a great big dining table, and a spacious cooking area, with decent cookers (but non-working overhead cooker hoods). The two-fridge and two-freezer situation compares better than the one-of-each situation over in Oak House. Basically, the facilities all around are better in Richmond – and the price you pay for rent is definitely indicative of this.
The rooms are nice – with a big desk, a chest of drawers, a built-in wardrobe, a desk chair, an armchair, a single bed, two bookshelves, a push-pin board, and a bathroom. The bathroom is tiny and gets absolutely soaked after 20 seconds of your showing running – hence why they call it a ‘wet-room’. It gets pretty gross in there really, and there is almost certainly a problem with silverfish. Don’t know what silverfish are? You’ll find out soon enough.
In my experience, Richmond is a lot quieter than Oak House. It gives you space to breathe and, crucially, sleep. Although despite the thicker walls, the floors are thin. Be prepared to hear the flat above pace incessantly at midnight, or random screams from the carpark near by.
Overall, Richmond is bigger and probably more liveable in general. If you want a nice in-between, Richmond is your best choice. Not as crazy as Oak House, but still fun and sociable.
Photo: Erin Osman @ The Mancunion
Woolton Hall is situated opposite Oak House and is a quieter option for Fallowfield living. Rooms are spacious with big windows, a nice desk, chair, and a single bed. There are 15 bedrooms on one corridor, shared showers, toilets and a small kitchen (small being the key word here, as Woolton Hall offers catering so kitchen facilities are limited).
One thing to note is that breakfast and dinner are served only at specific times, so if you miss it you miss it. Hungover and up after 9:30? Say goodbye to breakfast.
Woolton Hall resident, Ada, gave us the low down on Woolton. According to her, the best thing about Woolton is the catered food and the variety of food options. For her, it has been really handy in the first year. She found it easy to make friends during breakfast and dinner, as everyone sits together at allocated times for the meals.
The price of rent is more expensive than self-catered accommodations, and it is a much quieter space. There are common rooms and events which are hosted regularly for the students of Woolton Hall.
In all honesty, I’m not sure how exciting living in Woolton Hall is. It is very quiet and people seem to work quite hard. But then again, I’ve only really heard good things from the people living there. Richmond and Oak are right next door for the parties, meaning you can escape home for peace and quiet later.
If you’re looking for quieter halls, catered accommodation, with a nice old-school vibe, then this could be great for you!
Photo: Lexie Baynes @ The Mancunion
As I walked up to ‘The Shev’ for the first time, I remembered a TikTok where a girl said that Sheavyn was the most boring, quietest, most old fashioned accommodation in Fallow. Maybe the girlie was just being quirky, because Sheavyn has not lived up to that expectation.
There are so many things I’ve grown to (not exactly love but) appreciate about Shev…Walking up three flights of stairs holding two huge shopping bags, and seeing someone’s takeaway from Mo sprawled down the stairs. Opening the door which slams so violently the corridor shakes. Putting chicken nuggets in the oven which activates the loudest fan in existence. It’s far from quiet or boring.
One injustice is that the rooms are so huge that having a single bed is a joke. It’s 2022, single beds shouldn’t be a thing. Especially if there’s a shelf above the bed which you hit your head on every morning. But granted, the room is huge, accompanied by a massive window and ‘wet room’/en-suite.
The building itself is pretty modern, with the kitchens being second to Unsworth. If you live on the top floor, the kitchens are double the size. All of them are decorated with everything from 256 posters to fairy lights to words which my mother would drop dead at.
Sheavyn has a really homely vibe to it, and every night there’s something happening in one of the flats. Living in a self-catered flat with eight other people may seem like a recipe for chaos, but it’s actually great because you can essentially ‘pick ‘n’ mix’. Suddenly a conversation between two people becomes a conversation between eight. One Sheavyn flat enjoyed the pick ‘n’ mix option in particular… Rumour has it that the entire flat committed flatcest, including on the kitchen table… Detty pigs.
The University brands Ashburne as ‘Ashburne Hall with Sheavyn House’, which seems a bit belittling (I’m loyal to Shev). Sure enough, the two accommodations share a pond which has had a murky layer of mould floating across it. Yet, apart from that, the accommodations share no similarities. Although, this branding means that Sheavyn residents can use some of Ashburne’s facilities, which is useful. The library, in particular, is gorgeous.
If you’ve ever read Mallory Towers by Enid Blyton, you can compare it to Ashburne. Dark, quiet, gothic, archaic; could maybe be romanticised as ‘dark academia vibe’. A quasi-boarding school would be a way to describe it. The Hall is catered and has shared bathrooms, which furthers the sense of it being a girls boarding school. Did I mention that out of the entire Ashburne population, only 10 boys live there? Screams girls boarding school.
The halls are catered, which gives students the opportunity to socialise with others. It also gives more structure to the day because you know when your next meal is coming and eliminates the stress of cooking and budgeting. However, when I had a poke around Ashburne, I saw that the kitchens were genuinely tiny. Notably, every kitchen was stacked with Dominoes and Deliveroo bags, which suggests that the food is inadequate.
The shared bathrooms didn’t seem that bad – clearly, the Uni was on a budget, as the bathrooms are painted in the same colour green as in Oak House. But they are pretty spacious. In fact, the bathrooms weren’t the only thing that was spacious in Ashburne.
The entire building is spacious. Throughout my poke around, I saw maybe two other people by the entrance, and that was it. Given the inability to socialise in the kitchen, you’d assume that people would socialise in the huge corridors, or in rooms – but no one was to be seen and no noise was to be heard.
In my opinion, Ashburne is a pretty ‘safe’ place to live. It’s catered so you’ll always have food in your stomach, and it has shared bathroom so you know it’ll cheaper than other accommodations. Plus, it’s quiet so you know you’ll sleep well. Ashburne’s boarding school vibes pretty much Oak House’s nemesis.
UoM has pretty consistently been named in the “Unis with the Worst Accommodation” guide over the years. In trying to weasel its way out of this branding, Unsworth was built in 2019.
Imagine this: you’re doing your Hot Girl Walk through Fallowfield. To your left and right are old 1960s style mid-rise buildings. Terracotta bricks, green roofs, bleak windows… and then you reach Unsworth.
Fallowfield looks like the Savage Reservation; Unsworth looks like the utopian New World State from Brave New World. Everything about it is just brand new. Not only does it have well-designed green spaces which curve around the entire complex, but it also has (get ready for it): a library, a lift, a cafe, a laundry block, sofas, a TV, a common room, and postage lockers. Nearly everything which every other accommodation doesn’t have.
In terms of the rooms in Unsworth, they’re probably nicer than your room back at home. They’re bright and modern, with a ¾ bed, a large desk, a full length mirror, and lots of storage facilities. Unsworth has ensuite bathrooms, and if you don’t know the benefits of this, get to know.
The kitchens look like something Kirsty Allsopp would mooch around in her home renovation programmes. When I saw my friend get out her cocktail making kit, flavoured Gordon’s gin, and chop up a lime on the kitchen island, I could easily have been anywhere in the world but Fallowfield.
However, Unsworth is a breeding ground for the stereotype of ‘rich fake-blonde girlie who wears y2k clothes and lives off daddy’s money’. Everyone I’ve met on a night out who lives in Unsworth ‘knows someone who knows someone’, or dresses exclusively from Depop, or gets 90k views on a TikTok of them lipsyncing to Doja Cat. If you live through that for 10 months, you’ll be fine.
Seriously, Unsworth is nice with a capital N. But, it’s worth bearing in mind that it’s the most expensive accommodation in Fallowfield, has the highest number of applicants, and is the furthest away from the main road. You can’t have it all. But if it makes you feel better, Richmond residents pay £10/week less and get none of the perks.
Uttley is Fallowfield’s newest accommodation, with the 2021 intake of students being the first cohort to christen its mattresses.
Uttley is a weird mix of every type of accommodation available. When you walk up to the building it looks like someone’s posh family house. Then, when you enter it looks like a hotel. By the time you walk into the kitchen, it looks like a chaotic travel hostel’s shared kitchen.
When you talk to the people it seems like they all know something you don’t. From what we’ve heard from a Uttley resident, it seems like everyone is involved in everyone’s business. Perhaps that’s inevitable, given the layout and structure of Uttley. There are four kitchens, with 16 people per kitchen after all.
This might not be the ideal accommodation for you if you don’t like the idea of someone else’s knife being in your peanut butter, and that peanut butter then being taken to another kitchen where the toaster sits.
Before it housed Manchester uni’s freshers, Uttley Park was apparently a hotel. A hotel fit for a queen, or even, the queen herself. If there is ever a ranking system for Manchester’s Uni accommodation, perhaps this is it. All I’m saying is, you absolutely would not catch Queen Liz sojourning in Oak House (whose exotic interiors are designed by her majesty’s prison architects).