If you’re a first year student, sorting out accommodation is straightforward: a place in an Imperial hall of residence is guaranteed in nearly all cases. The situation is different for returning students though. They can’t live in first-year halls unless they find a vacancy (you have to be lucky here) or become a hall senior. Because of that, most returning students decide to live in private accommodation. However, there’s an option to continue living in halls without taking responsibilities of a hall senior or hunting for vacancies in first-year halls. It’s Evelyn Gardens, a set of three halls (Willis Jackson, Southwell, Holbein) located just a 15-20 minute walk away from the South Kensington campus.
I’m one of the students who decided to live there. What was my experience?
The application process wasn’t very hard. I just had to fill in a simple form mostly with my personal details and room preferences. The offer came in in mid-June. My first choice was a 15-20 m2 en-suite single, but I didn’t secure one. I didn’t complain though as I got a >20 m2 en-suite single instead. Also, because of an error in the offer (a long story involving several e-mails and phone calls), I actually paid a 15-20 m2 weekly rate for that room.
I remember reading a student post saying that you have the same chance of getting a room in Evelyn Gardens as long as you apply before the deadline. It wasn’t the case for me probably. There was no specific deadline and the Imperial website said that applications were considered on a first come, first served basis.
The Evelyn Gardens move-in day happened to be on the same date as the move-in day for first-year halls: 28 September 2019. All I had to do then was to come to the reception in Willis Jackson, show my Imperial ID card, sign a few forms, get your keys and voila! Enjoy your new home.
My room was in the basement. There are no lifts at all in Evelyn Gardens, so there was a bit of struggle going downstairs with a heavy suitcase, but I eventually got to my room. The room itself was pretty nice and huge! Surprisingly, it had a smaller “room” inside, which I quickly turned into storage of various boxes, bags and suitcases 🙂
The kitchen didn’t really look different from kitchens in Beit Hall (my first-year hall). The equipment was the same (e.g. a microwave, a kettle and a toaster). There was also one lockable cupboard per room and a few “public” ones (which were rapidly privatised). As far as I remember, about 15 people shared a kitchen, but it was very rarely crowded.
Coming from Beit Hall, I was surprised how quiet Evelyn Gardens was. I did expect a calmer environment outside, but significant corridor/kitchen noises coming to my room were rare as well! This was very good news for me, as I tend to study in the hall when I’m not in the Huxley labs.
Also, there were hardly any hall events. I only remember a welcome meeting on the move-in day and a Christmas event in the beginning of December. However, since I’m not a very sociable person, I didn’t worry too much about that.
Overall, my experience with Evelyn Gardens was pretty good. Unfortunately, it was cut short by the pandemic. In mid-March, I had to leave London immediately due to my country closing its borders and the transition to remote learning made me terminate the accommodation contract.
As always, stay safe 🙂