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Room for Improvement: Oxford’s craziest college accommodation

Maggie Wilcox has found the best college rooms in all of Oxford.

The average Oxford student living in college will be allocated a basic, yet comfortable room. Yes, the room ballots are hectic and the living, cooking and bathing areas outside of one’s own bedroom are often messy and cramped, but each room serves its purpose and provides its occupant a place to (hopefully) relax at the end of the day. Some students though will be lucky enough to get an above average room, maybe with an ensuite, double bed or attached living room. The luckiest though will live in truly unique surroundings. These are the focus of this investigation. Over the course of the past two weeks, Cherwell has searched far and wide to find the most unique, impressive or otherwise iconic student bedrooms the university has to offer. 

Brasenose: Paneling, Paintings and Poshness

This is the sort of grand and ornate room, steeped in history, that immediately comes to mind when you think of Oxford. Originally called Frewin Hall, the building once housed the future King Edward VII in 1860 while he was a student at the university. Drawings depict him in similarly paneled rooms, so current occupants may well claim to live in a former royal residence. Even if the historical record isn’t entirely clear, its furnishing suggests grandeur. Wooden paneling covers the walls and the marble fireplace is topped by intricate carved arches. Its spacious interior contains multiple wardrobes, a large sofa, bed and a set of modern table and chairs, which seem a bit out of place in what could fight in well on any lavish country estate. 

Those who know the room well also highlight the “really creepy portrait on the wall”. Although perhaps not the most hospitable and homely room, a stay in the Panelled Room at Brasenose would be memorable!

Part of the wood-panelled room in Brasenose

New: A Room with A View

This next room is not particularly remarkable for its furnishings or history, but rather for its surroundings. At 110 steps up in the air, nineteenth- century Robinson Tower houses the highest undergraduate rooms in Oxford. If the stunning panoramic view of the city and its dreaming spires isn’t enough to impress you, the workout each occupant faces every day certainly should. Former resident and current 2nd year Psychology and Philosophy student, Daniyal Houssain, remembers the daily physical beating his legs took. He cherished the view and his physical gains, adding that now his “quads are massive”.

Robinson Tower
The view from Robinson Tower

Jesus: Back (and Down) in Time

This next room isn’t particularly large and definitely isn’t known for its view. In fact, the fresher who gets this room in Jesus’ Ship Street Centre accommodation will be living in an entirely subterranean room. 

What it lacks in natural light though it makes up for in character, as one of its walls is part of the city’s original medieval walls. Only 30 Jesus freshers will be fortunate enough to even get into this building, whose reception area also includes some of the original city walls, so the first-year who got this walled room (with ensuite!) really lucked out.

The subterranean room in Jesus

St. Peters: A Modern Loft at the Anglo-Saxon Uni

Upper years who live in the Chavasse Building at St Peters are not given an interesting room, by modern standards. In Oxford, however, the iron clad loft bed and stairs add an industrial-chic aesthetic that is rarely seen in this old city. Although those stairs do seem like quite a hazard after a night out, the views from the elevated bed facing the large windows makes the climb worth it. These rooms are located in a recently remodelled building named after the college’s founder. The remodelling project won design awards for its sustainability and its innovative design that made use of a small space. Small, but classy the little Chavasse rooms certainly do stand out.

Chavasse in St Peter’s College

Magdalen: A Truly Oar-some Room

Many colleges have ornate JCR president rooms with paraphernalia from over the years, but few can boast a Captain of Boats room chock full of rowing memorabilia. At Magdalen, the countless 6 am wake-ups and brutal erg sessions pay off for one dedicated rower each year, as they get a truly distinctive room to call home. 

The room features oars from years the Magdalen boats have won blades on the ceilings and cabinets made out of old hulls. Current resident and Captain, Miranda Connolley, says that although it is a bit strange, she’s grown quite fond of it. On top of the size and massive bay window looking out over High Street and the Botanical Gardens, she also adds that she didn’t “have to spend time decorating it”. Photographs, trophies and all sorts of rowing items from the last 150 years adorn the walls and shelves, leaving little space for personal decorations. 

Connolley has found herself hosting many social events, especially for rowers, in this large room with a rare comfy sofa. Although she won’t describe it as “cozy”, she loves this iconic room.

Magdalen’s Captain of the Boats’ Room

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