Ah, ok -- you should be able to take a nice cycle ride from your hall, through Trinity Square, and down onto Webber ST. Very local and calm traffic -- only tough part is navigating Waterloo Bridge, which is not that bad, just crowded. I estimate about a 10-15 minute ride depending how fast you go -- probably closer to 10 on a light bike as a young guy.
Congratulations on having come up trumps in the lottery of student accomodation. There really isn't much of a better place you could end up.
You've already found the best place to get information about the area - the SE1 website and its forums.
We all have our own views on what's great round here. I live just over the road from the Kings halls and think it's fantastic round here.
Yes, the Roebuck is great. I think the Long Lane chippy does the best chips round here and Orville's O-Tower restaurant on Tower Bridge Road does the most fantastic (and reasonably priced) West Indian food.
If Mum & Dad/well-off relatives and friends are paying, then you've got the many delights of Bermondsey Street.
Going further there's the whole South Bank to enjoy.
On the bike front, there's a lot to be said for the Boris Bikes (with a docking station right outside you halls).
I lived in those halls last year. Most students went to the Dover Castle down the road cause its very student friendly. Be careful when walking out on your own, not to worry you but there were quite a few muggings of students so don't walk at night from campus via the back streets! But have fun! Its a great location :)
not intending to scare you but there would be a couple places I would avoid late at night particularly if you are on your own....
1. being Elephant and Castle, especially the underground walkways.
2. Old Kent Road (not strictly SE1 but may be a road you wander down at some point as its round the corner)
3. The Rockingham Estate.
(these area's are completely fine in the day time)
and as someone previously stated any backstreets that look a bit secluded (common sense really)
having said that, I have walked these areas in the early hours of the morning stumbling home from some club or party, but luckily enough nothing has happened.
BUT what I would say is that if you look out of place in the above mentioned area's, you may look vulnerable to any dodgy character out there, people have a nack for spotting a newcomer to the area.
as far as nightlife is concerned well you are practically in central London.
there are so many places to choose from, maybe if we had an idea of what floats your boat music, entertainment, interests, Hobbies etc we could give you a few pointers!
welcome to the area, agree regarding the Roebuck but be careful at the Dover Castle. Ruse on Borough High Street is very good for sport and has a karaoke night on Friday that a lot of South Bank Uni and London School of Music Theatre go to.