The high rise building, which is now one of the tallest in Groningen, dominates not only the landscape, but is also making headlines: questions about the hotel’s business model have been raised in the Lower House, and National Student Union LSVb delcares that the chain exploits its short-stay residents.
Marjolijn Oortwijn, one of the staffers in The Student Hotel Groningen, proudly says that the concept is designed with students in mind and aims to give its residents ‘the whole package.’ But what do students who are calling the building home for the coming months think about this type of accommodation and what it has to offer for what they are paying?
Name: Mingran Yu
Studying: exchange student, master’s degree in history
Length of stay: six months
‘We tried searching for a room through the SSH, but there, you don’t exactly know whether you will get a room or not. The Student Hotel is extremely straightforward – there is either a room available or there is not. Everything is new and spacious. I didn’t have any other option at the time, but if I did, I would have definitely considered renting a cheaper room. But I feel very safe staying here. My university back home – Fudan University – has a very cheap campus for its students, but in terms of quality and space, I cannot begin to compare it with where I live now. Sometimes, students in Shanghai have to share a bedroom with three or more roommates.
The hotel also gives you the option to pay for additional cleaning services if you’re too busy studying to clean your room. You get a free bike for the duration of your stay, too. I know that bikes are a big issue in Groningen, so at least I don’t have to worry about that. I pay 900 euros for a suite, which is expensive, but I feel that the price is somehow justified by all the services and perks you get as a resident – I like spending time in the open library at the hotel. The bathroom facilities and the furniture in the room contribute to the feeling you are living in a hotel, but there are so many students around and in the study rooms, joining in activities or just hanging out that I don’t feel like I live in one’.
‘I lived in the Student Hotel in Amsterdam two years ago and I am familiar with what it has to offer there, so I decided to live in it again when it opened in Groningen. Last year, I lived in a studio apartment and the price I pay at the hotel is more or less comparable with what I was paying before.
I pay around 700 euros, so I have to admit it is a bit on the higher end when it comes to student accommodation, but I think it is reasonable for what I am getting in return: a central location, a safe and peaceful environment, an international atmosphere and great facilities that students get to use for free. Having a gym right under your nose is great, too. I also enjoy the quiet study rooms in the hotel and the library. You can choose if you want to join different activities and events organised in the hotel, or spend time in your room and have some peace and quiet’.
Name: Tatenda Madondo
Studying: full degree student, bachelor’s degree in international and European law
Length of stay: five months
‘I love it! The location is equally close to the city center and the park. I rent a suite and have my own kitchen, and I like the ping-pong tables and everything else here. I have to pay a bit more – around 900 euros – but I feel it is reasonable for what the student guests receive in terms of services and perks. I have my own kitchen and a TV in the bathroom. The hotel also offers access to a portal where you can check the availability of the washing machines and you are notified when your laundry is done, which is cool.
Booking a room was fairly easy and fast. Initially, the RUG recommended that I contact SSH, and I did, but I had to wait for an answer. In this regard, the Student Hotel is much more direct and you know right away if a room is available for booking or not. The people on Kamernet don’t even respond to your message. I learned about The Student Hotel from a friend of mine and I booked my room in one day. It does not feel like I am living in a hotel because I have my own small studio; it feels more like you’re living on campus. For a short-stay, the concept works perfectly and you don’t have to wait and worry about getting a room. I plan to move in with a friend when my five months are up and we will search for a place on the private market.’