My own college, I'm bound to say that it is the best in all of Cambridge...
And indeed it is, for me at least. The second oldest college in Cambridge, previously called "Clare Hall" (not to be confused with the present day Clare Hall) it was founded by Lady Clare in 1326 as a college of theology. Referred to by some in Cambridge as "the small one next to King's" its oldest part is located in the lee of King's Chapel. With an undergraduate population of around 450 it isn't too small and has further student accommodation across the river next to the University Library and beside Castle Mound.
Academically Clare is usually rated fairly highly in the Tompkins table of Cambridge colleges, Clare is usually stronger in the Arts but in the last few years the Sciences have been beginning to perform to the standard they ought. The college is more relaxed about academic performance than might be expected, and to a large extent they expect you to drive your own studies. Clare usually has a above average applicants to place for Cambridge colleges, so may be regarded as being tougher to get into than some. Having said that - they took me - and I still have no idea why, perhaps I interviewed well.
Interviews are fairly formal, but usually on a one-to-one or one-to-two basis and the interviewers are fellows. Although they may not succeed they do try to make you feel at ease. It probably doesn't help having the interviews in the Memorial court rooms though, the two door handles can be frightfully confusing after 30 minutes of 'torture'. Being unable to open the door really must have shown my nerves
The Clare JCR [Junior Combination Room] is located in the chapel crypt and is fairly atmospheric, if not stuffy on ent nights. It serves as a dance floor for ents, an area to chill when the bar is open or to just play table football in when you should be working. It's also the location of the annual innuendo-ridden Clare Actors panto' and the hilarious Clare Comedy. There is a pool table, table football table, a games machine and a quiz machine to waste your money on. The bar is fairly reasonably priced, and serves Asahi dry Japanese beer, which is a very good thing.
Accommodation at Clare is generally good, though only the first years get the possibility of en-suite. All rooms have network points, which is a massive bonus for a compsci like myself. Most second and third years live by Castle Mound, which is unfortunately a ten minute walk from the main sites. All first years live in Memorial court, which also houses the college library and is just across the river and through the gardens from Old Court. The distance of the second and third year accommodation from the main sites is a major downside of Clare, though it isn't as bad as some colleges and you do get used to it. Or you use it as an excuse to avoid the catered meals.
Buttery, is the almost appropriate name for our catered food. The excess of oil on lots of dishes makes it not very high on my list of preferences, and I usually cook for myself. However, credit where credit is due, I do recommend anything Italian, their chicken curry (even reheated) and their deserts.
Formal Hall is pretty much silver service at Clare, and gowns/suit is required. The food is usually a bit better than Buttery food, but not as nice as when they do a 'super' type hall. Fortunately it isn't a college that uses benches, so it's fairly comfortable. One notable thing is that you are limited to a bottle of wine between two people, this is apparently attributed to some mathmos getting very drunk and attempting to throw profiteroles at the artwork. Perhaps that is why I've never been served profiteroles at formal hall too?
The people at Clare are usually very friendly, and we have a reputation as a friendly college. Perhaps because it's so nice in Clare people tend to socialise a lot in college and not be as extroverted as people from some other colleges. Swapping Formal Halls is always a good way of rectifying this though