As some of you may know, in years gone by we were both students of Oxford University. We love this city so much and will always see it as our second home. Unfortunately, Oxford isn’t cheap to visit and hotel prices can be steep, so we rarely stay more than a day when we visit these dreaming spires.
Consequently, we were excited when we were offered the opportunity to not only visit Oxford for the weekend but to actually re-live our university days in a college room! University Rooms, is your Airbnb of the university accommodation world. If you’re looking to stay centrally in a UK city for the fraction of the price of a hotel room, then it’s well worth taking a look at this option. Out of term time, you’ll find that UK university rooms are available to book, including rooms at both Oxford and Cambridge.
We booked ourselves into Keble College – a beautiful college that sits opposite the University parks and the fascinating Oxford University Museum of Natural History, where Claire spent many a time in lectures. We were offered single rooms, both with ensuite (none of that sharing business) and it felt no different to a booking a hotel room. The porters of Oxford colleges (a little like hotel staff) are notorious for being a bit on the grumpy side, but on arrival, the Keble staff couldn’t do enough for us. We even parked our car on the college site, which if you know central Oxford, is a small miracle!
Opening the doors to our rooms, we were a little apprehensive about what state we were going to find them in. University students and tidiness don’t usually go hand in hand (unless you’re Laura and have OCD), but we were pleasantly surprised! Our rooms overlooked the beautiful Keble quad; our beds had towels and toiletries neatly placed on them; a kettle and biscuits were on hand; and the ensuite bathrooms were probably better than our ones at home! It felt just like a hotel room, except for the large desk, which did bring back some haunting memories.
The great thing about staying in a student room is that you’re centrally located to the city centre. We were a stone’s throw away from the main sights and shops. Once we had dumped our bags and re-lived some strange memories in our college rooms, we headed out for the day to visit some of our favourite colleges and sites of Oxford, pretending we were youthful 21 year olds again. If you’re visiting Oxford, we’ve previously written about suggestions for what to see, but we couldn’t recommend taking time to explore some of the colleges enough. As we both had alumni cards, we were lucky enough not to have to book tours or stick to opening hours, but booking onto a college tour is easy and entry is usually only a £1. Of course, if you’re planning on visiting Christ Church college, where the great hall of Harry Potter really exists, it’s best to book ahead to avoid long queues, especially in the summer.
We had very differing night’s sleeps back in college rooms. I (Claire) slept like a log and could not stop muttering to myself about just how comfortable my little bed was. Laura, on the other hand, seemed to absorb the anxieties of past students’ experiences in her room, and spent the night in a state of panic, re-living her exam experiences.
Sleeping in College also means you get to experience eating in a college hall. For anyone who has seen Harry Potter, you’ll know what these halls look like and we must admit, they are very ‘Hogwart-ey’. We were treated to a full fry-up in the morning, in the grand Keble dining hall. As we stared across this sun filled space, we felt hugely nostalgic for our student days. Novelty is a funny thing and re-visiting college made us question how we didn’t spend our year there in complete awe. Nowadays, we eat our breakfast on the sofa, in front of the morning news, not in a grand hall that’s been home to brilliant minds all over the world (we’re not saying we have brilliant minds, it’s a miracle we got in there).
So, if you’re looking for that Oxbridge experience, for a great price, take a look at University rooms, and get your Hogwarts fix! Prices range from just £42 a night for a standard single room (shared bathroom) to £95 for a double quad facing (i.e. pretty view) room.
Thank you to Seriously PR for inviting us back to Oxford with University Rooms!