Updated: Jul 22, 2019
If you follow me on social media, then you might know that I attended the University of Leicester. I never really spoke about it while I was there because I wanted to attend classes looking a mess in peace (ok? cool) but yes I was there for 4 whole years. So I guess you can classify me as a part-time local?
I know Leicester pretty much inside out, since it was my home for so long.
I asked a few of my Twitter followers what was the first thing that came to mind when they thought about Leicester and here were some of the responses….
I wasn’t surprised to be honest. I feel as though Leicesters reputation isn't great, especially for people that have visited briefly or haven’t had the chance to explore all it’s goodness. So I’m writing this blog post to tell you about all the good things that they don't tell you about Leicester.
I always feel like I’m in another country when walking through this area. It boasts of banks, shops, restaurants, pubs and even a large, upscale cinema. I actually worked in a few places here during my time at the University. For example, I worked at Costa Coffee when I first moved to Leicester and then later at the Marks and Spencer’s here for a while during my studies. I even took a bar job once at Cosy Club when things got a little tight, so I spent a lot of time in this area.
Some of my favourite shops and restaurants to visit in this area include:
Beauty Queens Cosmetics Hair shop
2. LEICESTER CITY FOOTBALL STADIUM
I'm not much of a football fan to be honest, but during my time in Leicester I found that I somehow ended up getting involved in the football culture one way or another. The stadium is located not too far from my University, so I would walk past it nearly every singe day to get to class. Sometimes, I would even catch the crowds of the enthusiastic Leicester supporters and have a random chat with a few of them, which always put me in a good mood.
The football stadium brings so much unity to Leicester City and it's felt by everyone. I remember when Leicester won the Premiere League and there were parties happening all around Leicester. It was such a vibe!
3. LOCALS ARE FRIENDLY
In comparison to London, Leiester is a very small city and not even half as busy. It's filled with students but also a lot of locals. They're so friendly that you wouldn't even be able to tell the difference between the ones that are students and the ones that aren't.
Nearly every single person that I came across was approachable, helpful and kind, which is refreshing and comforting when you move to a new city and are not sure of your whereabouts.
4. CABS ARE DIRT CHEAP
One of the main things I love about Leicester is how cheap the transport is. I don't think I ever took the bus or train within Leicester for the entire 4 years that I was there. There was just no need when everywhere is walking distance and cabs are super duper cheap. (Even cheaper than UBER).
Cabs can be as cheap as £3.50, so don't go playing yourself by taking an UBER or black cab, unleyou absolutely have to. I've left some good cab companies that I use when in Leicester below:
Tip: Always use Club Taxi if you can, they're the cheapest and most efficient in my opinion. I only use the other two if I'm desperate and Club is not available!
5. ACCOMODATION IS RELATIVELY CHEAP
No matter which part of the UK you're in, I think that we can all agree that Leicester's accomodation is quite cheap. When I say cheap, I'm usually comparing it to London, which has prices that are just ridiculous if you ask me!
You can get some pretty decent accomodation for good prices Here are some examples of what I paid monthly for my accommodation during my 4 years in Leicester.
1st Year - Filbert Village : £400 p/m (Single room with ensuite and shared kitchen)
2nd & 3rd Year - The Zone/Hello Student : £480-£520 p/m (Luxury double studio with own kitchen, bathroom, TV and Sofa- Cinema room, games room, gym and office to collect parcels)
4th Year - Sweetbriar Road : £425p/m (Double ensuite room and shared kitchen with working professionals)
6. CALYPSO GRILL
Calypso Grill is the best Caribbean food in Leicester which is just not up for discussion or debate. It became a tradition that I would order the full whack at least once a month (which explains why I'm currently in the gym *coughs*).
No, but seriously. If you haven't tried this caribbean food, then make sure you do when you're in Leicester. They have it all and they're popular so get your orders in early before you're met with the dreaded "We nuh av dat".
7. EVERYWHERE IS WALKING DISTANCE (NEARLY)
I'm not sure whether it's just me, or I feel like nearly everywhere in Leicester is walking distance. I find myself walking way more when I'm in Leicester than when I'm in London. I even walked 40 minutes to University every morning and 40 minutes coming back. I'll admit, if I was too tired to walk back I'd take a cab, but I can usually walk long distances at least one way, because it feels so short once you've been in Leicester for a while.
The City centre (Highcross) is in the middle of nearly everywhere... (unless you reside in Oadby, in which case good luck lol) , but usually walking distance from most places in Leicester which is great for locals and students.
8. TWO UNIVERISTY'S
Just in case you didn't know, there are in fact two Univeristy's in Leicester. One is called De Montfort University (DMU) and one is called University of Leicester and they're pretty close to each other. One of the highlights of my time in Leicester was getting to know people from not only my University, but also from DMU.
Although I attended the University of Leicester, basically my entire University experience was spent very close to the DMU campus. This allowed me to know a wider range of people and form some longlasting friendships with people from both University's which was incredible!
9. TIPU SULTAN
Despite all the negative connotations that surround Leicester, they can be quite fancy too. I discovered this five star dining spot in Oadby that serves delicious Indian food. The decor is beautiful and very instagrammable (yes it's 2019, we want instagrammable locations to eat at, good food is just a bonus! lol)
It can be quite pricey for Leicester's standards, but it's a great place to go for a date night or a night out with the squad!
10. AFRO-CARIBBEAN SHOPS
I think out of all the things on this list, this has to be my favourite thing about Leicester. Given that in London, I live in an area that has NO Afro-Caribbean shops nearby... I was in heaven. There are quite a few of these shops dotted in around Leicester and they sell everything that I need.
From black soap, to the famous Abido cream (that's super hard to find in London), to chin chin, plaintain chips and all the African ingredients you need to whip up a traditional meal... they have it all!
I absolutely love that Leicester really makes a conscious effort to cater to the black community.
In my 4th year, I lived quite close to this lovely African restaurant on Narborough Road. I became a regular customer here and the owner was Igbo too and loved me. Sometimes, he would even give me free food because he knew I was a student, God bless him!
Not only is the food delicious here, but the vibe is really good inside. It's usually filled with Leicester locals and even has some entertainment such as a pool table, good music, drinks and football on the TV too. It's a great place to hang out with some friends
Tip : - Miyaki usually gives a discount to students who order meals over £10, so bring along your student card.
- The Yam and Tilapia was my go to meal. The magic sauce is amazing and affordable -try it!
12. AFFORDABLE TAILORS
Well, there's not much to say about this apart from there are some hidden gems in Leicester and by 'gems', I mean tailors who can do-the-damn-thing affordably. My go-to tailor resides in Leicester and is definitely one of the best in town. The service is fast and he's made me two lovely traditional gowns for Nigerian and Ghanaian Independence Day's.
Despite moving back to London, I will still travel to Leicester just to get my dresses made for any upcoming events.
Hope that you enjoyed this blog post and have learned a thing or two about Leicester from a former student and residents' perspective. Trust me, it's not all bad. I hope this inspires you to visit Leicester at some point! Make sure you follow me on my socials. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook & Pinterest (linked above).