Jonas Hotel, Sheffield – Review
Jonas Hotel, Sheffield
by Roger Crow
I had some doubts about staying in a ‘student’ hotel. My default hostelries these days tend to be pricier and posher because I’m not 18 anymore and don’t mind paying extra for little luxuries. So the thought of a communal living space, and actually having to make eye contact with strangers possibly half my age fills me with dread. Before I arrive, my stereotypical mental image is of a washed out bedsit land. Rik, Vyvyan, Mike and Neil causing havoc amid walls lined with Che Guevara posters.
Thankfully, Jonas Hotel in Endcliffe Village, Sheffield is anything but. Part student accommodation, part budget hotel – and a lot of fun.
It’s been two years in the planning, and all that hard work has obviously paid dividends. A team from the University of Sheffield took inspiration from hotels and residences in Amsterdam before the £2million revamp started in January 2017.
In case you’re wondering, the hotel creators weren’t inspired by American singers the Jonas brothers, but Joseph Jonas, a German steel baron who was a benefactor of the University of Sheffield in Victorian times. Having transformed the 1990s student residence into “a vibrant place to stay”, I warm to the place immediately.
Amsterdam’s Student Hotel proved that hostelries with communal areas can add that extra factor to the hotel experience. I’m an instant convert, especially as the main downstairs TV can be seen from any main downstairs room. It has a beautiful Stanley Kubrick-style depth of field when viewed head on.
The 79-room establishment is pretty unique in the UK, but given its clever philosophy and layout, I can see it catching on. Most hotels speak the language of isolation. This is fluent in the language of community.
Tash on the front desk wastes little time checking my partner Rachel and I in. After dropping bags off at our small but comfy room, we decide to grab a coffee and cake, and check out the communal living area. Thankfully it’s empty, which gives us a chance to try out the facilities.
A great session of billiards, ping pong and retro games on a coffee table-style arcade machine leaves us giggling like kids on Christmas morning, while riding adult scooters up and down the corridors is breathless entertainment. (Obviously not advisable if the place is busy). A witty guide to the hotel and Sheffield slang is a real hoot, and echoes the local sayings adorning walls.
If the designers wanted to achieve that sense of childlike wonder and local charm, they succeeded. The brightly coloured decor and classic video game artwork is right up my street, while a terrific rendition of Sheffield’s finest, Jarvis Cocker, mean common people like us are soon feeling a lot more at home. Crashing out on bean bags in front of the HDTV is also a welcome way to wind down after a semi stressful drive.
Sheffield has changed so much since I last explored here, I can’t believe it’s the same place I used to visit in the 1990s. Clearly I’ve missed a lot of prosperous development in the years I’ve been away. The place is thriving.
Playing a board game loaned from reception helps brighten up a drizzly wet Sunday before dinner. Not far from the Jonas is a street filled with high end restaurants and favourite take outs, including Carluccio’s. For a foodie like me, it proves tempting, though as we’re booked in at the neighbouring Halifax Hall Hotel restaurant, that will have to wait for another day.
Given the drizzle, we’re glad of somewhere local to feed our faces. After which, we opt for cappuccinos back at the hotel. It’s a joy for us to chill out in the communal TV area. Well, I relax while Rachel catches up on work. But that’s not a problem either as there are study areas for those who need a quiet spot to check those emails or tie up crucial loose ends. The free WiFi ensures we get online with a few clicks. Handy for work or just posting scooter-centric videos to social media.
Eventually we head back to our room. A shame the lift interior looks like it’s been attacked by a sloppy bill poster, but there’s so much right with the Jonas Hotel, it’s petty to quibble.
A good night’s sleep and a refreshing shower ensure we’re ready to face that rush hour traffic before work. If we were staying longer, we’d bring home comforts such as tea and coffee. A nearby kitchen ensures there’s plenty of hot water for beverages and washing up.
Jaden on reception rustles us up complimentary cappuccinos and pain-au-chocolats to go. While he’s doing that I take a last look around that colourful communal area; marvel at a radiator-themed glass table and the colourful ceiling. Surprisingly I get a little emotional.
Despite spending a mere 16 hours here, we’ve bonded with the Jonas Hotel. I can only imagine what a wrench it must be for those who stay here longer. The fact rooms can cost from £25 per night (£175 for seven nights) for a long stay or from £55 per night for a short stop means it’s a tempting offer for those working in town who don’t want to pay a fortune.
Would I recommend it to anyone looking for a short or long term stay? Well, as it’s one of the most fun, engaging few hours I’ve had in any hotel, absolutely.
Jonas Hotel, The Endcliffe Village, Endcliffe Crescent, Sheffield, S10 3ER
Rooms cost from £25 per night for long stay guests and from £55 for short stay guests.
For more information: jonashotel.co.uk