Sheffield gets the conference community spirit

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Jonas Hotel in Endcliffe Village, Sheffield, which opened in August 2017, has come up with a very different ‘collective’ conference accommodation model, following a £2m makeover of a student accommodation block.

Part student accommodation, part budget hotel, the Jonas Hotel takes its inspiration from hotels in Amsterdam, after a team from the University of Sheffield went to the Dutch city to research ways of shaping their £2m investment in the property’s revamp in January 2017.

The result is a hybrid lodging that, the designers claim, speaks the language of community rather than isolation.

A tired 1990s student accommodation block was transformed with locally upcycled furniture, graffiti walls, artwork based on Sheffield sayings, and shelves stacked with many examples of what the designers call ‘Sheffield in a jar’.

The idea is to encourage visitors of all ages and backgrounds to share conversations as they share a roof.

The 79-room Jonas opened in August and, says Ian Jones, the university’s head of accommodation services, “aims to give truly flexible hotel accommodation choices while fostering shared life experiences between a vibrant mix of visitors.

“Encouraging that coming together of cultures, backgrounds, age and experience reflects entirely the ethos of University of Sheffield. We believe no other UK university is utilising its accommodation in this way. It signals a new era.”

The model’s introduction to the UK was “long overdue”, says Jones, noting the building is named after Joseph Jonas, the German steel baron who became a benefactor of the University of Sheffield in Victorian times. The modern makeover was led by Sheffield architects Hadfield Cawkwell Davidson.

The ground floor is devoted entirely to communal social space and features a cafe-bar, a gaming/cinema room, games room, three lounges and two quiet areas for study.

Accommodation over the three upper floors features 57 en-suite bedrooms with shared kitchens.

Classed as long-stay, they are for students or visitors staying from a week up to six months. A further 22 en-suite hotel rooms can be rented for seven days or less.

Andy Flowers, who combines managing Jonas with Halifax Hall, the flagship hotel run by UNICUS, the subsidiary which operates the university’s commercial arm, comments: “Jonas fuses a fresh, characterful environment for students with the comfort guests expect of a good hotel and is specifically designed to bring people together in a co-living environment. We invite people to live the Jonas way and foster understanding, entrepreneurialism and friendships.”

Rooms will cost from £25 per night for long stay guests and from £55 for short stay.

Paul Colston

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Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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