The poshest student accommodation in Yorkshire opened its doors this week. Sharon Dale took a tour and awarded it “first-class honours”.
Back in the day, The Young Ones brought us TV comedy based on the squalid reality of student digs. If someone had told Mike, Vyvyan and Rick that the future would bring hotel- style accommodation for undergraduates, complete with concierge, cinema room and luxurious bedrooms, they would’ve laughed their smelly socks off.
In the early 80s the idea was inconceivable but it’s now a reality. The first five star “halls of residence” were built in London thanks to demand from wealthy international students. Now Yorkshire has its own at Iconinc’s The Edge, which launched this week in Leeds.
The proud owner says the property on Burley Road is “seven star” and he’s not far wrong. There’s a 24 hour concierge, a laundry service, plus a complimentary breakfast for when you rise from your bed, which has 1,000 pocket springs. Amenities include a gym with personal trainers, a games room with pool table and Xbox, a cinema room with Netflix, a study room and an outdoor area with table tennis.
The interior is bang on trend with walls painted in soft greys, blues and whites with pops of bright colour. As for the rooms, they are plush with the option to buy a pack of high thread count bedding and a cleaning service.
The 131 rooms include the Smart, a compact 19 sq metres with en-suite and kitchenette with two-ring hob; the mid-size Elegance and the Grande, a 36 sq metre pad with separate bedroom and full-size kitchen. Prices range from £160 per week to £300 per week.
The average room in purpose-built student accommodation is £100 a week and £60 per week in a shared house.
All the rooms at The Edge have one thing in common, a black and white picture of an iconic city, such as London, Paris, New York and Dubai.
The communal areas follow this theme with pictures of sporting, business and literary icons complete with “student appropriate” motivational quotes, like this from Richard Branson: “Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again”. And this from Michael Jordan: “I’ve always believed that if you put in the work the results will come”.
It’s all tied to the Iconinc brand conceived by the developer, Naveen Ahmed, MD of Leeds-based Parklane Properties.
“I wanted to create a recognisable brand and the icon theme was perfect. It marks us out as something different from the average student residence,” he says.
“We were keen to create high-end accommodation because we could see there was a gap in the market for it. Iconinc redefines what it means to ‘live like a student’ and satisfies a demand for a superior standard of accommodation, noticeable among international students. The opening of The Edge offers students ultimate luxury living and revolutionises student living in our city
Even before the doors opened, most of the rooms had been snapped up. The demand is partly down to an increase in university student numbers, which have doubled in the past decade and to young people who are far more discerning now that they pay a hefty price for their education.
“It’s not just international students who are renting from us, it’s students from the UK too. We have a 50/50 split,” says Naveen.
Antonia Hughes, 22, a student at Leeds Beckett University, is renting a Smart room for £160 a week and says: “It’s a bit more than I paid last year but it is worth it and my parents have been supportive in helping me out.
“I was in another purpose-built student accommodation block last year and I didn’t have a good experience. The shower didn’t work, the washing machine broke down and there were five of us sharing a kitchen. I wasn’t keen on the idea of a house share, where security is a real problem. I know of ten people who have had their Apple Macs stolen from shared houses.
“Here there is 24-hour security and the rooms and facilities are amazing. I am hoping to stay here for the rest of my time at university.”
A lot of thought has gone into the detail at The Edge, especially storage and space-saving ideas, like the TV that swivels so you can watch it in bed or from the sofa. The communal areas are aimed at helping students socialise. The mini shop has all the student essentials, including Pringles.
“We have tried to think of everything, not just the décor but about how to create a community,” says design enthusiast and entrepreneur Naveen who heads the Parklane Properties empire started by his parents over 30 years ago.
His mother and father began with one student house in Leeds and built up an impressive portfolio and a lettings agency.
Naveen has pushed that business forward and expanded into purpose built student blocks and a hotel chain, Roomzzz.
His aim is to grow the Iconinc brand and he is looking at sites in Liverpool and Sheffield. He is also planning to create another Iconinc development in Headingley, aimed at second and third year students.
It will feature a cluster of rooms around a shared sitting room and kitchen aimed at groups of friends.