Wednesday 13 December 2017

Student skinflint's guide to the capital

Deirdre Reynolds seeks out the frugal fixes - from cut-price hair of the dog to cheap hairdos

From hair of the dog to a new hairdo, at the start of the new academic year, here's our skinflint's guide to living in Dublin.
From hair of the dog to a new hairdo, at the start of the new academic year, here's our skinflint's guide to living in Dublin.
A fiver fry-up is always welcome.
Popcorn at the cinema (stock photo)
Haircut's a snip.
Trinity College.

Welcome to the Big Broke. More than 40,000 teens have flown the coop for college, according to the latest CAO figures, with most descending upon the capital to study at Trinity, UCD and DIT, among other third-level institutions.

In the city ranked 12th most expensive in the world by TripAdvisor however, registration fees and rising rents are just the beginning of the financial pain for students - and their parents.

But students don't have to survive on the stereotypical diet of beans on toast and recycled tea bags for the next nine months.

From hair of the dog to a new hairdo, at the start of the new academic year, here's our skinflint's guide to living in Dublin.

Fry's The Limit

Having flown the nest, the most important meal of the day often goes by the wayside for many freshers. So it's worth searching out Cafe Sofia on Wexford Street after moving to the Big Smoke. Slap-bang between DIT Kevin Street and Aungier Street, the family-run caff is already a firm favourite among starved students. And its legendary fiver fry-up - including two eggs, two rashers and two sausages, as well as the all-important builder's tea and toast - is the perfect post-Coppers cure. Don't worry if you haven't managed to scrape yourself out of bed before lunchtime - it's served all day.

Splash the cash

Deprived of Mammy's home cooking for the first time, it's perhaps no surprise that many teens fall victim to the so-called 'fresher five' - the five kilograms typically gained by students in their first year of college life. With most universities now boasting budget-busting gyms however, there's no excuse to pile on the infamous 11 pounds. Away from campus, in the heart of the capital, cash-strapped students and graduates alike swear by Dublin City Council's Sports and Fitness Markievicz on Townsend Street, where a workout, swim and stint in the sauna costs only €5.

Cheap flicks

From dodging the TV Licence inspector to dodgily downloading the latest Hollywood movies, third-level students aren't exactly renowned for coughing up when it comes to entertainment. Just remember that nobody loves a data hog. Avoid ticking off your flatmates by checking out 'Online Thursdays' at IMC Cinemas such as the Savoy on O'Connell Street where all tickets are €5 - well, €5.50 when you include the pesky booking fee - when you book online at Elsewhere at Odeon Cinemas, you can also catch a flick for €6 on 'Bargain Wednesdays'. Now back slowly away from the laptop...

The €1.50 coffee

Famed for helping undergrads survive never-ending lectures, coffee isn't just a beverage, it's practically student fuel. With a cup of joe now creeping towards an eye-watering €4 in many of Dublin's most popular coffee joints though, it's worth brew-sing around before blowing the grant money on cappuccinos. Starting from €1.50 for a Cuban espresso, Havana Cafe - inside The Decent Cigar Emporium on Grafton Street - certainly puts the 'bean' back into bean-counting. Because, let's face it, there are only so many times you can convince the staff at Nespresso that you're actually interested in buying a coffee machine.

Cheap laughs

From the so-called 'student contribution fee' to rising rents, for teenagers and their folks, the cost of going to college is no laughing matter. But at least stressed-out students can get a few cheap laughs on the capital's buzzing comedy scene. Showcasing top Irish acts like John Colleary and Eleanor Tiernan, admission to The Comedy Crunch downstairs at The Stag's Head's on Dame Court every Sunday, Monday and Tuesday night, for example, is so cheap it's free. Just chuck whatever you can afford into the basket at the end - and don't be a total tight-arse.

Haircuts a snip

€35 for a wash and blowdry? Ah hair, leave it out! Wander into one of Dublin's ubiquitous celebrity salons, and you could wind up leaving skint in more ways than one. Root around however, and there are plenty of discounted 'dos around. Fellas won't do much better than a tenner for a dry cut at Charming Hair and Beauty Salon on Burgh Quay, which starting from €8, also does one of the cheapest blow drys in the city. Over at Tropical Hair and Beauty on Camden Street, meanwhile, a ladies' dry cut is a snip at €12 when you book online through

Drink aware

Naturally, Ireland's Generation Expectation would never overdo it on students' night. With some Temple Bar establishments charging upwards of €7 for a pint however, even fun-loving freshers have to think before they drink now. Teetotal or on the tear, Dicey's Garden on Harcourt Street - otherwise known as Dicey Reilly's - is a mecca for the city's academics. And we're sure the fact that it serves €2 pints and bottles before 10pm is just a coincidence. Offering €5 bar food, there's plenty of soakage - sorry, we mean 'sustenance' - too.

The Fiver Lunch

They say there's no such thing as a free lunch - and dining out in the capital around midday is the proof. Between on-trend bento boxes and burritos, if you're not careful, you could end up forking out a tenner on filling up between lectures. Google like a boss though, and you'll soon discover it's possible to make one of those crisp red bank notes last two lunchtimes. Found on Wellington Quay, Bison Bar & BBQ, for instance, does a savage pulled pork, beef brisket or sausage sandwich for €5 takeout. Beats beans on toast, anyway.

You may not have gotten the 540 points necessary to study Law at Trinity College Dublin, but you can still hold court in the campus restaurant at dinner time. Catering for students, staff and visitors alike, The Buttery - just off the main square - is famous for its epic fiver dinners, which have in the past included an Instagram-worthy goat's cheese and vegetable tart and seafood paella. Little wonder that Trinity alumnus Oscar Wilde once quipped: "I can't stand people who do not take food seriously." Follow Trinity Catering on Twitter @TCDbites for daily specials.

Irish Independent

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