How to save money on holiday by going to university

Maria McCarthy / 16 August 2016

Staying in student accommodation can offer excellent value for money – and give you an unusual holiday experience too!



When putting together a holiday that you’re organising yourself, you might find that seeking out clean, basic budget accommodation can be a challenge.

Chain hotels can be soulless and surprisingly expensive for what you get.

B&Bs can feel a bit too personal and claustrophobic whilst hostels are often relentlessly noisy.

If you're a solo traveller, you might have to choose between a bed wedged into a converted broom cupboard, or forking out for the dreaded single room supplement.

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Stay like a student

But one option worth considering is staying in a student room.

Oxford graduate Charlie Ramsay set up UniversityRooms.com in 2007.

As a student he'd noticed that many rooms were vacant over the holidays and they could be a useful base for travellers, whilst providing an extra income stream for colleges.

UniversityRooms.com now has availability in over 400 university colleges and student residences in 120 cities worldwide.

Whilst most rooms are only available during holiday periods when the students are absent, there are a small number of guest rooms, or rooms in university conference centres that can be booked all year round.

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What do you get?

There's a mixture of single and double rooms available, and a few venues can accommodate families. 

Some university halls offer an inclusive breakfast, whilst in others guests have access to a small kitchen or make their own arrangements.

Bed linen and towels are generally provided, whilst toiletries and your own TV aren’t.

Most university halls will have wi-fi and many also have laundries and 24 hour security.

Excellent value for money

Staying in student accommodation can offer excellent value for money.

For example, Goldsmid House in Victoria, central London, has en-suite single rooms priced at £53 a night and £75 for a double. 

And if you're willing to forgo an en-suite for shared facilities, International Hall near Waterloo station charges £37 for a single room.

Other UK locations include Belfast, Edinburgh, Bath and York, and if you're planning a trip to Oxford or Cambridge, there's the option of staying at one of the historic colleges. 

The rooms on offer vary from ones in the college itself, where you can wake up to a view over a historic quad or deer park, and others where the rooms are in a more modern annexe. 

It's important to check out the descriptions of the rooms carefully if you've got a preference. Magdalen College, established in 1458, is reputed to be one of Oxford's most beautiful colleges and offers accommodation in buildings ranging from 15th to 21st century at prices ranging from £49 to £95 a night for a single room.

Plenty of choice

If you're planning on going further afield, UniversityRooms has accommodation overseas – for example £40 for a single ensuite room in Barcelona, or £48 for a single with shared facilities in Montreal, Canada.

As you might expect, the standard of décor varies with some venues being relatively new or refurbished, whilst others are somewhat shabbier. But reading the reviews and checking out the photos on the site should give you an idea of what category the hall runs into.

And although a very high proportion of the visitors tend be older people, there's the possibility of  younger visiting groups as well. 

Requesting a quiet room when booking is a good strategy for being placed on a corridor with like-minded people – as well as increasing your chances of being placed away from any busy roads or similar annoyances.

If you're after a luxurious break, a student room probably isn't for you. But if you'd like somewhere clean and convenient to stay after a busy day's sight-seeing then they can be ideal. 

And you can stay out as late as you like, safe in the knowledge that you don't have an essay to hand in the following morning!

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.