Keele University, My Experience - Hawthorns Hall Accommodation

By Issy Goode - 20:05

So, my third year is at an end with the parties and celebrations over for the most part but my results and graduation are still to come. I've now left Keele University - my place of study and, more importantly, my home, for the past three years of my life. 

Most people still respond with a perplexed look when I tell them where I study, and I bet if you haven't purposefully searched for an opinion of Keele University and have come here just out of curiosity, you're going to have to Google the place, so instead let me save you some time...
Google maps

So as there's so much to say about my experience at Keele, I thought I'd break it down and kick things off with my accommodation in first year - it's a little lengthy, so everything in bold is a summary of the important things. A further post will be made concerning all the accommodation on campus, but I only have experience with two of the halls so I'll be turning to other students from Keele to help me give you an idea of where you'll be living! I'd also like to clarify that this post is focused on the blocks within Hawthorns Hall, though there are also flats!

My experience with on campus accommodation...

I spent only my first year on campus, and to begin with the greatest thing about it was the atmosphere. Some blocks are bigger than others, but I was in one with around a little less than 30 students - I think in total it was 26, but people came and went. I was in Hawthorns Hall Block M, room 26 (have fun whoever lives there next year, it has a weird smell to it that was there before I arrived!). Mine was a mixed sex hall, though there are single sex ones too. The first night, I lined bottles along the kitchen surface and told everyone to help themselves. It worked a treat at getting everyone mingling. Freshers' week is such a key moment in the process of settling into university. You may not meet your best friends in this first week, but you're likely to meet a few fun characters.

As for the actual accommodation, as I said my room was smelly. To keep it smelling fresh I had to have my window open constantly. I had a washbasin in my room which was handy. The bathroom was shared between about 14 +/- girls and had one shower, a bath and two toilets, and down two floors there was a boys bathroom with the same. It wasn't often that you had to queue, though when you did it was freezing bloody cold. It sounds a lot worse than it was, I never had to wait to use the toilet, it was never really dirty, just a bit unclean at times but what would you expect with so many people using it?

The kitchen had a decent amount of cupboard space for everyone to get at least a shelf for food and a shelf for crockery/pans to yourself as well as a shared drawer for cutlery. Though there are those that decide they deserve a whole cupboard. The only cupboard I'd recommend avoiding is the one beneath the sink, because there is a chance of it leaking. There were 5 fridge freezers, with plenty of room for big food shops, but as the semester wears on people get poorer and the fridges get emptier. Everyone sort of claims their spot in the fridge, I was first fridge freezer on the right, middle shelf, left side - just in case you wanted to know. There were 3 ovens, two microwaves, a kettle and no toaster. You'll find that someone in the hall will have bought a toaster already, so just wait for it to appear. One of our microwaves broke from what I can remember, don't expect it to ever be replaced whilst you're there. There was also a small table with FOUR seats. Yes, there were nearly 30 of us living there and we had four seats.

There are cleaners! But some are better than others. Everyone says be friendly to your cleaners and they'll be nice and keep it cleaner - in my opinion, you should be nice, but it shouldn't affect how hard they work. Our cleaner was a gentleman maybe between his 50s-60s. He kept our kitchen spotless in the first week, and gave us the impression that the kitchen was cleaned daily. It is not, apparently he kept it tidy just to be nice. Which was sweet of him, but it lulled us into a false sense of security. After freshers' week, you were more likely to find him sitting at the kitchen table asking people for a cup of tea than actually cleaning. And when he was off, two female cleaners would come by, sit on the stairs and loudly, very loudly, bitch about how filthy students were. Many of us hid out in our rooms until the cleaners left, they made things a little uncomfortable. But fear not, because they clean and that's the important thing!

They come daily in Hawthorns Hall, though I think it can be different for other halls such as Barnes. They empty your bins and recycling, except on weekends in which case they leave bin bags, and clean your kitchen and bathrooms once a week (though this may have changed now). Your room is cleaned fortnightly, on a rota that can be found in usually the downstairs corridor near the door. You'll get a notice on your door the day before your room will be cleaned, but you can stick a notice next to it if you don't want your room cleaning for whatever reason.

The absolute worst thing about halls and the cleaners was the loss of crockery and cutlery. Now, not every cleaner does this, and I'm not sure if it's actually a policy the university has, or just something our cleaner did to make a point. When the kitchen is cleaned, any thing dirty OR clean left by the sink, is moved to the table for people to clean, collect and put away. However, if people don't collect it, it's moved to a clear bin bag and put to the side of the room. Fair enough right, people aren't cleaning up? It's then locked away in the cleaners cupboard if it's not claimed. Yeah, that's all cool. But our cleaner stopped doing this process after a few weeks and just started throwing it straight in a bin bag and locking it away. Meaning, if some bugger had used your stuff to cook and eat their dinner, then not washed up, your stuff was lost, not even because of you. This my dear friends, is why I have no cutlery or crockery. And also why I refused to buy anymore when I moved into my house in second year.

As for security, you'll feel safe in halls and around campus in general. Your Keele card is your key to get into the block, and you can only use it on your block, and then you have your own room key. Make sure the door to the block is shut tightly, they're pretty heavy doors so it's not hard to keep it locked. One night someone didn't close the door properly and some random people (most likely still students) got in, went and sat in our kitchen and drank anything they could find and banged on peoples doors. Security are pretty diligent too so if there is anything concerning you, give them a ring and they'll come straight out. 

A quick final summary of all the little things:

Cost - It's gone up since my first year and now stands at £85.68 - £158.40 dependent on room type, which is paid in 3 instalments. In total the lower band you'll be paying for a 37 week contract is £3,170.16 with the higher band for 37 weeks at £5,860.80. Don't use my word for it though! The rooms and weeks you can occupy them for vary, so follow the link below for more info!

Beds - basic, a bit springy, different in every room, small single. Bring your own duvet and use the one they provide as an extra bit of padding to go under your sheet.

Washing - laundrettes are provided for each hall, they say they're constantly trying to improve them but as I haven't visited one since first year I can say that they were average. Sometimes they eat your money, sometimes you have no problems. Luck of the draw! It's within close walking distance of most of the blocks at Hawthorns.

Wardrobes - you get one wardrobe with compartments and hanging space, if you have a lot of clothes, try not to bring them all because there simply won't be space for it all.

Bookshelves - there's an absolutely huge bookshelf in most rooms, though some are unlucky enough to get smaller ones. My one was floor to ceiling and I forget now how many shelves there were. I kept a lot of my food on these shelves, such as tins, cereals and jars.

Carpets - are old and ugly. It's not important, I just wanted to share that.

Mirrors - most blocks have a full length mirror on each floor. Rooms which have a washbasin also have a mirror.

Storage/work space - you get a desk with drawers, a telephone and a desk chair - mine was super comfy but others had rubbish ones. Once again it's just luck of the draw. You also get a side table with cupboard space, a cupboard above the wardrobe useful for suitcases/bags, and another above the sink if you have a room with a washbasin.

Social - there's a bar in the centre of the halls called Hawthorns Bar which you can visit any night of the week from what I recall. You're also about a 15 minute walk or a 3 minute bus ride from campus and therefore the SU, which is completely free with a bus pass provided by the university! I'd also recommend taking a 5 or so minute walk to the local pub, The Sneyd Arms, which is a nice place to relax in and the food is always delcious from my experience!

If there's anything more you'd like to know that I haven't covered, just leave a comment or drop me an email -! In the meantime you'll probably find it helpful to have a look through the Keele Hawthorns Hall page, which gives further details on the costs, types of rooms and even a little 360 view of the area - all of which are more up to date than my experience 3 years ago!

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  1. A teacher recommended I go to Keele! But yeh... Portsmouth instead :P as if halls have cleaners!! Like, I know they do, 'cos my friends last year had them I just think it's maaad! And heating too!! I didn't get a place in halls so I'v been cleaning up after my housemates for the last two years oh yay haha

    1. Ahh really? Portsmouth was my second choice actually! I know yeah they really do need them though, in my block the mess was awful. And with 30 people there's absolutely no doubt that without cleaners there would have been a handful of people doing all the cleaning up every single day and it would have caused so much tension I think! Poor cleaners though haha! Ah the heating wasn't great in every room, some people didn't have any for weeks and it was freezing! Ah lucky you ;) I've been doing that for the past two years as well!

  2. Thank you Issy - I am the Mum of a student starting in Hawthornes this year - he didn't get his first/second choice of accommodation and this has been really helpful. We had another look round on Open Day yesterday but were really rushed through the kitchen area - good idea about storing some kitchen stuff on bedroom shelves (plenty of room there). This has been really helpful - cheers!

    1. My pleasure! If you'd like to know anymore don't hesitate to drop me an email :) It's hard after Open Days to really remember what the accommodation looked like, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Hawthorns!

  3. thanks Issy - really helpful as my son starts in Hawthornes next month.

    1. Not a problem - if you have any more questions not covered in here about Hawthorns or Keele in general, feel free to email me :) good luck to your son!

  4. Hey, thanks this was really helpful, I was also wondering about the nightlife, where's the best place and if you ever went into Liverpool/ Newcastle-U- Lyme for nights out? And over uni exp at keele- do you ever regret not going to a city uni??

    1. I went into Newcastle U Lyme a few times and Hanley too - I think a few of the bars have changed since then but personally we loved Reflex! Never. Coming from the countryside/seaside meant that I didn't really feel right in the city, it was much too vast for me and I think eventually I would have settled into it but Keele was everything I needed!


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