English Corner

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The Student Hotel — a new hotel concept

Von Ben West

The Student Hotel is redefining accommodation and facilities for travellers and has ambitious expansion plans for Europe.

I’ve just stayed at a hotel like no other. Brimming with innovation, the mission of the company behind it is to shake up the perceptions of what hotels should be.

The grand opening of the 574-room hotel in the former premises of the Trouw and Parool newspapers - The Student Hotel Amsterdam City - was marked on 15 April by a 12-hour festival of ideas, culture and connections called Bed Talks. Inspired by John and Yoko’s famous BedIn (the first of which took place in Amsterdam 47 years ago) and TED Talks, the global ideas incubator, it featured 50 game changers - including paralympians, humanitarians, social entrepreneurs, actors, mucisians and Nobel Peace Prize speakers - sharing their views on culture, social impact, business, science, education and sport. 

They provoked discussion, promoted new ideas, connected and intend to generate a positive impact on the world - exactly the ethos of The Student Hotel.The essence of The Student Hotel concept is a hybrid hotel that provides modern upmarket hotel-style student accommodation but also short-term and long-term accommodation at different room rates for both leisure and business guests. This hotel concept generates a special dynamic when students, business and leisure travellers share common spaces side by side. The idea is for these different communities to connect and benefit from the unique atmosphere such a resident mix produces.

Many five-star hotels have all the facilities and luxuries, but lack that sense of community staying at the other end of the scale, in a hostel, produces. The Student Hotel wants to provide the best of both worlds.The focus is on the diversity of guests, a melting pot of students making their home there for a year, hotel guests visiting for a few nights, professional short-stay guests checking in for a month or two, or those coming in to the co-work space, classrooms and restaurant.

People want an alternative to the traditional hotel

The stylish and contemporary hotels have bright, invigorating designs and are peppered with thought-provoking slogans throughout the buildings. There are co-working spaces where guests can stay for an hour, a day, a month or a year, and games rooms, a gym, study library, restaurants and bars.

The Student Hotel is the brainchild of charismatic Scottish entrepreneur Charlie MacGregor. He pitched a business plan to architects and investors for good quality, fun student accommodation in 2004. After a rocky start, being thwarted by strict Dutch regulations governing student accommodation in the Netherlands, two banks investing in the project going bust during the financial crash and investors pulling out, the hotels started to get the green light.

“People want an alternative to the traditional hotel,” MacGregor  says. “Guests who want to feel enlivened by their environment, inspired by who they see and meet. The Student Hotel is our concept for travelling, living, studying and connecting socially.”

The Student Hotel opened its first property in Rotterdam in 2012 and today operates 3,000 rooms at seven hotels in the Netherlands, Spain and France, with 15 more under construction or in the pipeline. It aims to open 40 properties (15,000 beds) in key European cities by 2020 and, with €365 million of equity committed by Perella Weinberg and APG Asset Management, is looking for further development opportunities in the Netherlands, France, the UK, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany and Scandinavia.