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Dining at Clare Hall

Dining is a real highlight in Clare Hall and a focal point of the College community.

We encourage a relaxed approach: the hall operates as a first-come-first-served venue with no high table during mealtimes or at Formal Halls, and many students and Fellows make the most of these opportunities to exchange ideas, opinions, and debate.

Up to 84 College members can dine in our beautiful and airy hall, Monday to Friday. Three-course meals are available, as are panini and salad bar options. (Please do check the menu page above to see if there is no normal dining, which happens over term when other College events are booked).

As College members, Life Members are always welcome to join us.

Reservations for academic groups or VIPs during normal meal service, or requests to book the hall for private events, may be made via

The Dining Hall doubles as a venue for concerts throughout the year, and may also be requested as a private venue for parties, dinners, dances, and more.

Opening hours

Dining Hall

Lunch: 12pm to 1.30pm
Supper: 6pm to 7pm
Formal Hall every Wednesday: 7pm for 7.30pm to 10pm

College Bar

Monday to Friday: 12pm to 1.30pm
Wednesday evening: 7pm to 10pm
Also available to book for private events.

All members of the College pay for drinks purchased from the bar using Upay, cash or card payments.


All members of the College pay for meals using Upay as cash or card payments are not accepted in the Dining Hall.

Please upload sufficient credit on Upay; meals are then charged to this account by swiping your card at the Dining Hall till or when reserving a Formal Dinner ticket through Upay – see below for full details. Payments for guests will also be via the College member/host’s Upay account. If you are in receipt of a meal allowance, it is credited to your Upay account.

Life Members can either purchase a one-off meal card for lunch or dinner from the Porters’ Lodge on the day, or, if you will be visiting more regularly, obtain a Life Member card from us and it will be linked to your Upay account. Please note that one-off meal cards are not available for Formal Hall reservations – these should be made via Upay. For any queries regarding Life Member cards, please contact the College Registrar by email via

Help is available on How to use Upay

Formal Hall

These dinners offer the chance to meet and talk with fellow College members in a slightly more formal environment. Formal Halls consist of a three-course served meal with coffee.

How to book a Formal Dinner

Reservations for Formal Hall can be made through a Upay account, accessible via 

When making your booking, please remember to enter details of any special dietary requirements that you or your guests have. Please note that due to constraints on our kitchen and the exceptionally high cost of external procurement, strictly Kosher meals are not available for guests, and are only available in very limited supply to College members. For more details please email

Tickets including wine are subject to a £6 drinks charge – please specify this when booking. If you are in receipt of a meal allowance, please note this will be charged separately and is not included in the Upay ticket price.

For further assistance, please email with any Upay, general payment or allowance queries.

Guests at Formal Hall

College members may invite two guests to Formal Hall; any more will require approval from our Domestic Bursar. Please be considerate of others when booking guests, since the total capacity of the hall is just 90. Please also remember that the behaviour of guests remains the responsibility of their host – as does notifying their guests of the Formal Hall dress-code. Children under 18 years of age are not permitted at Formal Halls.

Dress code

In order to ensure that Formal Halls are as enjoyable as possible for everyone, we ask that you dress in a fashion in keeping with the tenor of the occasion. Those attending are required to dress formally. Examples of conventional smart dress include: a tailored jacket, tie, button-fronted shirt, trouser suit, skirt or dress. National dress is also acceptable. While there is some room for interpretation, certain items of clothing (e.g.: shorts, trainers, sleeveless vests) are unacceptable and guests should expect to be refused entry as such.

Cancellations policy for Formal Hall and Feast bookings

Typically, booking closes at 1.45pm the day before a Formal Hall. Feast bookings close at 23:59 on the Wednesday/7 days before the event). For cancellations, please email before bookings close. There are no refunds for cancellations after the close of booking.

Further details


Dress code: Black Tie is customary at college feasts; the convention is to wear either a dinner suit or dinner jacket (tuxedo)/similar, or an evening dress. National dress is also accepted. Upcoming feast dates will be posted in due course.

Dining protocol

The use of electronic devices such as smartphones and tablets is not permitted at dining events.  Please ensure that your devices are switched off or silenced before meals begin.

In the Common Room

College members are welcome to gather in the Common Room to enjoy free coffee and cake courtesy of the Tutorial Office on Tuesdays and Thursdays (3pm). There is a coffee machine at the Common Room bar, which College members may request a card for via the Porters’ Lodge.


The Graduate Student Body Committee‘s External Officers arrange formal swaps, which offer students a chance to dine at, and meet students from, other colleges. It can be a more affordable way of dining out, and a great opportunity to get the Harry Potter experience at more traditional colleges. Look out for regular emails on formal swaps from the GSB External Officers.

Jazz Formals

The Graduate Student Body organises special Jazz Formals, which take place once a term. In the past, bands and musicians such as the Cambridge University Jazz Orchestra and the Greenberg Trio have been invited to perform whilst diners enjoy an excellent evening of fine dining and socialising. Booking details are released closer to the time for these black-tie events. Tickets are limited and sell out extremely quickly.

Infection-control measures

Clare Hall makes no special request for the use of facial coverings and social distancing at this time, but fully respects the right and wishes of its guests to use either in preventing the spread of disease.

We request that diners do not attend college if they feel unwell; however, cancellations for Formal Halls made after the deadline (see above) will not be refunded.

Clare Hall has multiple hand-sanitising stations en route to the Dining Hall, and encourages their use by all. The Dining Hall is routinely ventilated.

All of the above is subject to changes at short notice as the local situation dictates.

I remember feeling proud of bringing my friends from other colleges to Clare Hall for lunch, tea, formals, because it was like bringing them home. My friends especially would always want to come because they felt very welcomed by everyone (and because we had the best food in all of Cambridge!)
MPhil graduate in Development Studies, Clare Hall
Everyone has been extremely warm and kind. I have thoroughly enjoyed spending time at the Dining Hall each evening, conversing over many different topics and eating fantastic food! I am very much looking forward to spending the next few years at Cambridge and particularly Clare Hall.
MRes+PhD at the Future Infrastructure and Built Environment Centre, Clare Hall
I truly have enjoyed my time at Clare Hall and am grateful for the fantastic friends I have made at the College. Some of my favourite memories from the past year include spending time with my lovely housemates at Barton Road, and bringing friends to try out the best college food in Cambridge.
MPhil student in Politics and International Studies, Clare Hall
I have so enjoyed that at Clare Hall you can sit down beside a relative stranger at Formal Hall and still feel welcome. Through events ranging from Student-Fellow formals, to the art exhibitions, I have felt very engaged with the community. Some of my most meaningful friendships have been with Clare Hallers, and I’ll always be grateful to them.
PhD student in Plant Sciences, Clare Hall