GTW explore the historic halls of residence that invite an ideal summer stop over when the students leave and groups pour in

VE16732University halls of residence offer a fun and affordable place to stay over the summer when their doors open to groups seeking a quirky place to stay. Often left empty for weeks once the students have traveled home, many universities are now discovering the money to be made from offering their spare rooms to paying guests, often on a bed and breakfast basis. From the ancient spires of Cambridge and Oxford to the world-renowned universities of central London, a stay in one of Britain’s historic places of learning is guaranteed to bring you closer to its heritage. However, many universities don’t have a central reservations system and therefore planning your group trip with university accommodation calls for a bit of internet legwork.

Try University Rooms (www.universityrooms.co.uk), which lists the university halls of residences that open to the public on a bed and breakfast and self-catering basis around the UK and worldwide. The site will help you plan your group trip, whether it’s to the South West of England or the other side of the world.

FAMOUS UNIVERSITY CITIES

VE23948Two of Britain’s best-known universities – Cambridge and Oxford – are a haven for culture-loving groups who are keen to explore all these charming historical cities have to offer. University Rooms Cambridge offers a backstage pass to Cambridge University’s many ancient colleges, with the money raised from renting out rooms going towards the upkeep of its iconic buildings. Bed and breakfast rooms cost from £40 and your group will get to experience the university life that would have been enjoyed by the city’s famous scholars, including Charles Darwin and various members of the British royal family. Staying on-site in the university grounds gives holidaymakers the chance to eat in the college halls, learn about the history of the university’s buildings and explore its many manicured gardens and courts. All the colleges are just a short walk from Cambridge city centre, giving groups access to its famous architecture, galleries, museums, bars, restaurants and punting trips along the river. Plan your group visit and explore what’s on by visiting www.visitcambridge.org.   

The equally famous university city of Oxford throws open its college doors over the summer months, with bed and breakfast starting at £30 (via University Rooms Oxford).

Similarly, it’s a chance to live and breathe the life of a scholar while you learn about the history of the buildings and follow in the footsteps of its famous former students – including Ghandi, Bill Clinton and around 25 British Prime Ministers.

All the college buildings are centrally located so groups can explore Oxford’s museums, galleries and shops. For more on the city and its attractions visit www.visitoxfordandoxfordshire.com

 EXPLORE THE SOUTH WEST

The UK’s South Western counties house a number of heritage-rich colleges, which offer the perfect base for a group trip to the region. Nestling on the South Coast is Exeter University, with rooms offered by the university itself and independent student accommodation providers in the area. Some rooms are available in the summer only, while others are available year-round; see www.universityrooms.com/en/city/exeter/home for details.

For itinerary ideas visit www.exeter.co.uk/tourist-information

VE18345For lovers of all things Cornish, Falmouth University Halls (part of Cornwall University) offer the perfect base for a short trip to the county. With affordable rooms right by the coast and prices starting at just £25 per room per night over the summer months (via University Rooms Cornwall), Falmouth University Halls offer a comfortable, cost-effective alternative to cheap hotels and hostel. Falmouth itself is home to the world’s third largest natural harbour and is known for its maritime heritage, thriving arts scene and family-friendly beaches. Its sheltered waters are also home to world-famous sailing regattas including the Pendennis Cup, an annual super yacht race that’s due to be held in the town in 2016. Find out more at www.thependenniscup.co.uk

The South West region is also home to Plymouth University, Bath University and Bristol University – all of which welcome groups over the summer months. Rooms in Plymouth University Halls start from £32.50 per person for an en-suite room, while prices at Bath University start from just £21 for a single room with accommodation ranging from Georgian terraced houses to newly-built university residencies.

SEE PAGE (24) FOR MORE IDEAS AND INSPIRATION TO HELP YOU PLAN YOUR GROUP TRIP TO THE SOUTH WEST

COLLEGE LIFE IN THE CAPITAL

More and more group travel organisers are appreciating the benefits of staying in university accommodation when they visit London, with several colleges boasting a central location and competitive rates compared to hotels.

London University Rooms offer accommodation over the summer months and over the Christmas and Easter holidays, from self-catering rooms in the heart of Chelsea to bed and breakfast accommodation in the leafier suburbs. Rooms start from £32 per night; see www.universityrooms.com/en/city/london/home for details.

The University of Westminster offers group accommodation in central London from the end of May until early September with sites located in Hoxton, Lambeth, Marylebone, Victoria and Wembley. Prices start at £37 per room per night. Find out more at www.westminster.ac.uk/business/facilities-and-services/summer-accommodation

Group travel organisers won’t be stuck for ideas to fill their group’s itinerary once the accommodation side of things is sorted. London’s art scene, theatre-rich West End, museums, galleries and night life make it one of the best-loved cities in the world.

Find out more at www.visitlondon.com

HOLIDAY IN THE GARDEN OF ENGLAND

If GTW’s feature on page (17) has whet your appetite for a group trip to Canterbury, then why not stay at the University of Kent, which proves the ideal base.

It’s a cost-effective way to explore this beautiful, historical city, offering modern bed and breakfast rooms costing from £26 via University Rooms Canterbury, with five-bed, group-friendly self-catering houses costing from £89.50 per night.