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New College student greeted by “escort” in their room amidst hotel havoc

A student at New College was met with a “woman sitting on [their] bed in a lingerie robe” when they opened their room door at the Leonardo Royal hotel. The shock came as third-year New College students were re-housed an hour walk away from the centre following delayed building works. The College has responded to the incident by reducing rent by half and putting in place a night porter at the hotel.

Students were due to move into the New Gradel Quadrangles building on Mansfield Road at the start of this term. However, on 16 August they were informed by email that due to slow progress on site, it wouldn’t be ready on time and that they would be accommodated at the Leonardo Royal until 1 November. On 27 September, the College delayed the move-in again until Monday of ninth week.

Cherwell has exclusive access to first-hand accounts of the incident that occurred last Tuesday, when a third-year student moved into what was supposed to be a student-only corridor in the hotel. Instead of moving in, they claim the hotel offered them to wait until the woman, who had booked the room from 9-5, had left. 

According to the student, the hotel said it made a “human admin error” and gave the woman a student room by mistake. The hotel then offered two options: wait until five o’clock and have the room cleaned again, or move to a distant room.

Another student told Cherwell they saw a man walking down what was meant to be a student corridor, who then entered the room: “ten minutes after that as we walked out of [the neighbouring] room we could hear them having loud sex – and then 20 minutes later he left and we watched him leave the corridor.” They claimed to have seen three further people enter and leave the room. 

Another student reported to New College that after having brought this issue up to a staff member they seemed “unfazed” at the news and “implied” this was a regular occurrence. The hotel has denied this, telling Cherwell they do not condone such behaviour in their hotels and always aim to be accommodating and prioritise their guests’ best comfort.

The Leonardo Royal Hotel lies in North Oxford, just by the ring road and three miles from the main site. As compensation, students were offered free bus passes into central Oxford, and free breakfast and dinner, despite not having direct access to kitchen facilities anyway. 

Initially, they were to pay the same rent as they would have paid for the new Gradel suites, according to correspondence seen by Cherwell.

However, after a lengthy email and “profound apologies” from the College, the Home Bursar Gez Wells agreed to a rent reduction of £13.57 per day (50%) and put in place a College Night Porter at the hotel overnight. An email from a student to the College called for more to be done, arguing that the College’s response is “not even the bare minimum”.

In 2016, Exeter College had to move 86 students into hotel accommodation after construction delays to the Cohen building. Students did not pay any rent while staying in the same hotel, whilst having provisions for a common room and a College officer present seven days a week.

New College students shocked about the difference in their experience have been “discussing a battels strike as an idea to get College to listen,” according to an email seen by Cherwell.

New College told Cherwell: “The College was made aware of a situation occurring at the hotel during part of the check in process which was witnessed by one student and their parents.

“The College and hotel worked immediately and collectively to address the issue and have subsequently spoken to the student concerned. The matter was then closed and every precaution against a reoccurrence has been taken.”
Leonardo Hotel has responded, telling Cherwell: “The comfort and safety of all our guests are of paramount importance to us. We are fully investigating the allegations being made and sincerely apologise for any distress that this has caused.”

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