The Dining Hall is a central part of life at St Hugh’s, and is a wonderful gathering space for those living on and off campus.
The staff take extra care to cater for all dietary requirements, with allergen information clearly available at all times.

College members with known allergies (mild or serious) should notify the Catering Manager at the start of each term. The most up to date email can be found here: https://www.st-hughs.ox.ac.uk/current-students/food/.

Typical meals at the Dining Hall

From 0th to 9th week, the Dining Hall provides three meals a day during the week, and brunch at the weekend. The selection varies day to day, with a carefully curated menu, and the prices remain low (you can expect to pay between £3 and £5). There are always vegetarian/vegan options, and many dietary requirements can be accommodated (please let the staff know at the start of term).  
Up-to-date opening times can be found on the website: www.st-hughs.ox.ac.uk/current-students/food/.

Formal Hall

During term, typically on Tuesdays (and sometimes Fridays), the College gathers for Formal Hall. This elegant event is a highlight of any week, with the JCR, MCR and SCR present. Our talented dining staff work tirelessly to present us with an elegant night of wonderful food. This event is a great way to meet other members of College and talk about your work (or avoid talking about your work!) or about life in general. Dinner is typically preceded by a reception at the MCR House and is followed by a drink or two in the College bar, making for a festive evening early in the week.

Please submit any questions or concerns to our Wining & Dining officers (mcr.wine-dine@st-hughs.ox.ac.uk); however, you may also find your answer in the FAQs listed below.

Frequently asked questions 

What are the top tips to remember? 

  • Wear smart clothes, but don’t stress too much; academic gowns are not worn at St Hugh’s Formals
  • Be seated for dinner at 19:00 sharp
  • Rise and remain quiet when the Principal and SCR members enter, and when grace is recited
  • Don’t change seats during dinner
  • Leave all wine glasses and bottles at the table
  • Have a wonderful time!

What should I wear? 

In time-honoured Oxford tradition, the answer is a little complicated. Formals are the smartest event on the College calendar (other than Balls), so generally you can’t go wrong by being as smart as your wardrobe allows, with a couple of exceptions. First, unlike some other Colleges, we don’t wear the academic gowns worn for matriculation and exams to Formal Hall. Second, the dress code is ‘smart’ but not black tie (unless otherwise specified), which means that tuxedos and bow ties are not typically required (although, in a pinch, you could repurpose a tuxedo without a bow tie as a lounge suit.) 

So, as to what you should wear, the options range from an evening dress, a ‘lounge suit’ (i.e., a suit and regular tie), a smart jacket with non-denim trousers, or formalwear from your own culture/background. This dress code has sometimes been described as ‘cocktail attire’. Please note that there are no gender-specific requirements.

Above all though, don’t worry too much about it—there is a negligible prospect of being turned away at the door, and plenty of scope for flexibility.  

Where and when should I meet? 

We invite all guests to assemble at the MCR lounge on 87 Banbury Road at 18:30. Prompt arrivals can expect a sparkling reception. We’ll use the time to allow you to find groups to dine with, provide more details about dinner, and walk over to College together for dinner.

What time does dinner start and what is the procedure? 

  • You will need to be seated at 19:00 sharp.
  • There are two routes to college from the MCR lounge, whose appeal may vary depending on weather conditions: you may either go through the hidden-away gate behind 89 Banbury Road, which involves walking over grass, or along Banbury Road itself and round onto St Margaret’s Road to enter through the main entrance.
  • There will be a member of College staff at the door to the Dining Hall to check your name on a guest list. If your name isn’t on the list, you won’t be allowed in; if you have bought your ticket on resale, be sure to have emailed the Wining & Dining Officers well in advance!
  • If you have requested any dietary preferences/allergy restrictions, you will receive a small card at this time, which you should place by your table setting once inside.
  • Once inside, you will be directed to one of the tables reserved for MCR members.

What is the general decorum during dinner? 

  • When everyone is seated, the Principal of the College or someone they have deputised will arrive and say grace.
  • While the SCR enters the room, everyone should stand and remain quiet.
  • The Principal, or their appointed deputy, will walk to the dais, say grace (a short series of Latin words), perhaps offer some other remarks, and sit. At this point, you may follow suit.
  • The food service will begin after grace. If you gave any dietary information when booking your ticket, you should have been given a plastic card indicating this upon entry. Lay your card in front of you so that servers can see it; this will prevent you being given the wrong food.
  • It is customary to wait until everyone in your immediate vicinity has been given food to start eating, but you don’t need to wait for everyone in the Hall.
  • Out of courtesy, please do not exchange seats once seated.
  • Since this is a multi-course meal, you will find all the cutlery you need already laid for you. The rule of thumb for which cutlery to use when is to work outwards in: the first course uses the outermost cutlery, and so on. Dessert utensils are laid across the top of your table setting.
  • When the SCR has finished eating, the Principal or her deputy may say a final grace before departing. You should stand and remain quiet during this exit period as well.
  • Once everyone at your table has finished eating, you may leave as a table. Please don’t bring wine glasses with you when you leave.
  • Many of us then go to the College bar (we will provide directions at the time) for some post-prandial drinks.

For samples of the delicious food, follow our wonderful chef’s Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/chefs_at_sthughs/