If you’re someone like me that likes to get out of the house to work, you’re probably familiar with the feeling of “study-spot-burnout”.
Even when campus is quieter and there’s no Hunger Games-style sprint to find a seat in Ali G, sometimes your usual study spot just doesn’t do it for you anymore. You need a change in scenery.
If you’re looking for a new study spot to call home, you’ve come to the right place. Over the last semester, I went on a super-secret mission to find the ultimate study location and mystery shopped some of Manchester’s popular and undiscovered havens. Ranging from whimsical coffee shops, to old school reading rooms, check out this short student-curated list to find the perfect place for you.
- CHEEKY COFFEE CO: (5/5)
(Hulme St, Manchester M1 5GL. 7:00 am – 8:30pm Monday to Friday, 7:00 am – 8:00pm Saturday to Sunday.)
Cheeky Coffee is a spot I’m hesitant to share, just because of how perfectly empty is.
Located just around the corner from Spar on Oxford Road, Cheek Coffee is a modern, vibrant café with wonderful staff and affordable prices. But most importantly…
No one is here.
I don’t know how Cheeky Coffee has slipped under so many student radars, including mine. Maybe because it doesn’t fit that same “rustic” vibe of eating food from wooden slabs and slurping coffee from your barista’s bare hands that seems to be the rage among us students these days? Regardless, the place has a clean design and stays open until half 8, making it a great spot to settle down and work for the day. While I would love to keep this place my own little secret, I would hate to see it disappear due to a lack of demand. If there’s anywhere on this list I would love to see students give a chance, it’s Cheeky Coffee Co.
Pros: Plenty of seating, affordable coffee, plug sockets (hallelujah!), free Wi-Fi, great customer service, stays open late, banging muffins.
Cons: The giant monkey logo above the door is a little weird, I guess?
2. TAKK Coffee: (4/5)
(Hatch, Oxford Rd, Manchester M1 7ED, 8:00am -6:00pm Monday to Friday, 9:00am – 6:00pm Saturday, 10:00am – 5:00pm Sunday.)
TAKK Espresso Bar was actually my first stop on this top-secret mission to find the best study spot, and it made a very promising start. TAKK is one of multiple venues that exist within Hatch, a collection of food and music spots situated right on Oxford Road. I visited TAKK with my sister, and while we enjoyed its rustic converted bunker style and folk-rock tunes, we quickly realised that the smaller space didn’t offer us many seating options as a pair. However, service was friendly and fast, it wasn’t too busy, and by the time we relaxed into the space I was able to get a good work flow going. While I’m still not one hundred percent sure about the converted portable toilets (though they were very clean), TAKK’s boast of free Wi-Fi, tasty coffee, and super-friendly staff, makes it a great alternative to your typical poorly-lit spot in the library.
Pros: affordable coffee, bomb chai lattes, plenty of plug sockets (hallelujah!), Free Wi-Fi, cool vibe, good music, great customer service.
Cons: small space, limited seating, could be cosier, frequent risk of making awkward eye contact with pedestrians walking down Oxford Road
*since I wrote this you can check out the TAKK on University Green for somewhere closer to campus.
3. Chapter One Books. (3.5/5)
(Chatsworth House, 19 Lever St, Manchester M1 1BY, 10:00 am – midnight, all week.)
Chapter One is a studying rite of passage for many Manchester students. A vintage bookstore and trendy café wrapped into one, Chapter One boasts the cutesy china, sporadically placed house plants and random water fountain that characterise many of our ideas of the perfect study haven. However. At the risk of offending many a Chapter One enthusiast (and any chance of being hired by them in the future) I’ve got to be honest…I think it’s become a bit overrated. I recently revisited Chapter One for the first time in about a year and a lot has changed. Not only do they host a range of creative events now, business is booming, which is great for Chapter One, but not so great for sheepish students like myself trying to find a spot. I’d advise anyone hoping to settle down in Chapter One for the day to come early (preferably before lunch time) and bring some extra change along with you — this study haven is a little bit on the pricier side!
Pros: Free Wi-Fi, a few plug sockets, open until midnight, very central location, cool artsy vibe, random water fountain.
Cons: busy, noisy, pricey, sub-par service, hot milk for coffee.
4. Manchester Central Library Reading Room (3.45/5)
(St Peter’s Square, Manchester M2 5PD, 9:00 am – 8:00 pm Monday – Thursday, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm Friday – Saturday)
Ever noticed that dome-shaped building on your way to town that looks like it was ripped out of Disney’s Hercules? Well that ancient temple replica is Manchester’s very own Central Library. I registered as a member of the Central Library when I was a bright-eyed fresher (oh those innocent days…), but I never actually went back there. Therefore, I knew I had to scope it out as my final stop on this ultimate study space quest. While Manchester Central Library is a huge space with four floors of potential study locations, I decided to check out the famous Reading Room. According to the Central Library website, the Reading Room can seat over 300 people, and after having sheepishly set foot in the epic Parthenon style space, I am not surprised by that fact at all. I wouldn’t suggest coming here if you have group work to do, as it is truly one of the quietest spaces I have ever studied in. While the complete silence was great for focus, at times it became quite unnerving (someone tripped and fell during my visit and the bang sounded like something from Armageddon). There are also no plug sockets in the classically styled space, so make sure you charge up your laptop and phone if you plan on visiting.
Pros: plenty of seating, free Wi-Fi, very central location, café available downstairs, books available on site (duh), feel like Hercules for a day.
Cons: No plug sockets, suuuper silent, only one signposted loo.
Hopefully you’ve found somewhere on this short but diverse list that soothes your study-spot-burnout, or even encourages you to start exploring the fantastic places Manchester has to offer. Now geek away – and may your next study nest be your best!