Add downtown Boston’s W Hotel on Stuart Street to the list of properties getting a boost from colleges’ and universities’ attempts to bring students back to campus this fall.

In a filing with the Boston Planning & Development Agency, Emerson College said it would be renting a large number of rooms on floors five through 14, with enough space to house 208 students and 8 resident assistants in single and double rooms. The college plans to rent the spaces from Aug. 24 to Nov. 25 and again from Jan. 14 to May 10 of next year.

The filing did not stipulate how many of the hotels rooms would be rented, but added that the building’s second-floor conference rooms would also be leased for use as two classrooms, along with three rooms in the nearby Park Plaza Hotel. One elevator in the W Hotel would be dedicated to Emerson students, who will be tested for COVID-19 once a week throughout the semester.

Emerson is just the latest school to seek hotel rooms to help reduce the density of students in its dormitories. Suffolk University, Northeastern University and New England Conservatory of Music plan to lease blocks of floors – and the entire Boxer Hotel and Midtown Hotel – to provide students with single-occupancy rooms and reduce the risk of virus transmission, for a total of over 1,000 rooms.

Hotel industry analysts tell Banker & Tradesman that hotels, their bookings and earnings pummeled by a dramatic reduction in tourism and business travel during the COVID-19 crisis, are competing with each other for the opportunity to host students.

According to city of Boston data from the 2017-2018 academic year, the most recent for which data is available, the largest contributors to the area’s demand for private, off-campus housing are Northeastern University (6,209 undergraduate students living off-campus), UMass Boston (6,133 students), Boston University (4,448 students), Berklee College of Music (3,223 students), Suffolk University (1,905 students) and Boston College (1,330 students). Berklee is the only school of the six planning all-remote classes this fall, with others planning hybrid online and in-person classes. Some Boston city councilors are calling on area colleges and universities to reverse course, citing twin threats of COVID-19 infections from students traveling from out-of-state and of students not respecting social distancing protocols.

Emerson Seeks to Rent W Hotel Rooms for Students

by James Sanna time to read: 1 min