‘Younger peo­ple want the finer things in life’

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Front Page -

fea­tures in­clud­ing rooftop bars, sau­nas, cinema rooms and even a hel­ter skel­ter, to make get­ting out of bed and off to morn­ing lec­tures that lit­tle bit more tempt­ing.

Boast­ing some of the wack­i­est de­sign is True Glas­gow, where KKA Ar­chi­tects in­stalled a gi­ant slide in its ac­com­mo­da­tion block. There are also in­door swings, and a so-called ded­i­cated fes­ti­val area, com­pris­ing a ren­o­vated car­a­van to lis­ten to mu­sic in, deck chairs and pic­nic benches. And, of course, study rooms – they are stu­dents af­ter all.

“When we were first com­ing up with our con­cept and dis­cussing what our sites needed, a slide was jok­ingly thrown into the mix by one of our di­rec­tors,” says Sarah Storey, head of sales and mar­ket­ing at True Stu­dent. “So when we were nail­ing down ex­actly what a site should look like we thought, why not? The slide has been a big hit with guests and vis­i­tors.”

iQ Shored­itch, mean­while, boasts a cinema room and a lobby area that is rem­i­nis­cent of nearby hip­ster ho­tels, with leather club chairs placed around a fire­place and taxi­dermy art­work, de­signed by celebrity in­te­rior de­signer Naomi Cleaver.

In re­turn, the de­vel­op­ers can charge pre­mium rates: a Plat­inum suite at iQ Shored­itch costs £380 per week, or £16,340 for the aca­demic year – on top of the £9,000 tu­ition fees for most uni­ver­si­ties in Lon­don. (For this term the suites are fully booked; over­all iQ boasts a 98 per cent oc­cu­pancy rate.)

The sev­enth-floor pent­house at True Glas­gow costs £205 per week, far higher than the av­er­age for stu­dent halls in the city at £134. The UK av­er­age stu­dent rent is around £144 a week, ac­cord­ing to Mys­tu­den­thalls.com. Many who are able to pay these higher rates are from abroad, with 93 per cent of iQ Shored­itch’s ten­ants in­ter­na­tional stu­dents.

A trend is for stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion providers to in­clude more so­cial ar­eas, such as the low-lit din­ing room with lux­ury up­hol­stered chairs at Eclipse in Cardiff, that is de­signed for stu­dents to host Come Dine With Me- style din­ner par­ties in. At Ernest Place in Durham, there is a rooftop bar in which to sip cock­tails – cer­tainly a step up from the grotty com­mon rooms with worn-out so­fas of yes­ter­year. There’s also an em­pha­sis on en­cour­ag­ing a sense of com­mu­nity and of­fer­ing a higher level of pas­toral care, says Dan Roberts, founder of Mys­tu­den­thalls. com. “This com­mu­nity-led ap­proach means providers are fo­cus­ing more on of­fer­ing spa­ces and events that al­low stu­dents to in­ter­act, learn and so­cialise with one an­other, help­ing them to thrive in their ac­com­mo­da­tion.” Storey says that the ex­pec­ta­tions of both stu­dents and their par­ents about where they will live are much higher than they used to be. “Younger peo­ple are in­creas­ingly ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the finer things in life, and they ex­pect no less when look­ing for ac­com­mo­da­tion,” she says. “We need to ap­peal to the In­sta­gram gen­er­a­tion who are al­ways look­ing for some­thing cooler, newer, and with more wow-fac­tor.”

Even with­out the head­line-at­tract­ing gim­micks, many de­vel­op­ers now have to in­clude ho­tel-style flour­ishes as stan­dard, such as Lit­tle Greene paint fin­ishes. Hyp­nos, the mat­tress maker to The Gor­ing, where the Duchess of Cam­bridge spent the night be­fore her wed­ding, has even cre­ated a spe­cial ver­sion for stu­dent digs that are used in Dun­creg­gan Stu­dent Vil­lage in Lon­don­derry, North­ern Ire­land. There are Miele kitchen ap­pli­ances in flats de­vel­oped by Cri­te­rion Cap­i­tal mar­keted to dis­cern­ing stu­dents in cen­tral Lon­don.

Ex­pe­ri­ences mat­ter, too. Much like a less-sor­did ver­sion of fresh­ers’ week, True Glas­gow’s com­mu­nal kitchen also of­fers com­pli­men­tary cook­ery lessons for those who may miss home meals (as well as gin mas­ter­classes).

The classes are part of what the com­pany terms its Tru­elife ini­tia­tive, which in­cludes stu­dents get­ting a card and bal­loon stuck to their door on their birth­day, and or­gan­ised trips around the UK. iQ holds events to fos­ter a com­mu­nity among their stu­dents.

Roberts agrees that while gim­micks might be the first thing you see, stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion providers are dig­ging deeper. “Over the past few years, I’ve been pleased to see a much big­ger em­pha­sis placed on men­tal health and well-be­ing for stu­dents,” he says. “This is all from de­sign­ing spa­ces to in­clude more nat­u­ral light, out­door spa­ces and quiet ar­eas, through to pro­vid­ing on-site sup­port staff, who of­fer pas­toral care.”

A slide at True Glas­gow, main; the cinema room, right, and a bed­room at iQ Shored­itch in Lon­don, be­low

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