Visitors are paying £2000 per night to stay in St John’s. The catch? John’ s doesn’t know. JOSH SIMONS has the story.
‘It isn’t just a dream…’
So begins the blurb on Hotel Eyrica’s website, based at St John’s College. ‘We are open 24 h/7 days.’ There’s a spa, a swimming pool, which for reasons left unexplained is surrounded by mountains, a bar and even an ‘Amazing Punting Experience’.
So far, so good. But how to get from Heathrow to Eyrica?
How about one of these? You can get transport to and from the airport in a Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini, Jaguar or a Rolls Royce.
If you’re not quite sold, the website continues: ‘We dispose with SPA centre, highly skilled chefs, conference hall and all the facilities you need for your business meeting or just for your amazing family holiday!!!’
You will also need deep pockets, however. A ‘Cambridge Suite’ will set you back £2000 per night, not including breakfast. High-end stuff.
Were you to book a room and turn up however, you would find yourself at 23 Park Parade, just behind the Maypole – not St John’s. In fact, Hotel Eyrica doesn’t even exist.
One unsuspecting Swedish couple recently booked a Deluxe Double Room. They turned up at 23 Park Parade, a little suspicious of the empty beer cans in the hedge outside, but were nevertheless optimistic. “Perhaps this was nighttime reception”, they reasoned. A Johnian, Bence Borcsok, answered the door.
‘Hello, we would like to see Room 1 please.’
‘We’re not expecting visitors’, Bence politely informed the couple. ‘And the room is not worth £2000 a night.’
‘No, but we want the room for three nights. We just wish to make sure we are happy with it.’
‘This is not a hotel’ Bence informed the ‘guests’, polite as ever.
Realising this house looked nothing like the grand photo of John’s on the website, and that the receptionist on the phone had sounded a little odd, the couple put two and two together.
John’s’ senior porter, Paul Doxey, later informed the police of the incident. He also told The Tab: ‘There are so many of these things; I don’t think it’s the first one in Cambridge. The student was quite distressed her room had been rented out.’ The police then handed the case to the Serious Fraud Office.
The reputable news organisation that we are, The Tab decided to do a little digging.
The website is in fact part of a summer school run by Bucksmore, a Language Center.
For a week’s project called ‘Young Leaders’, students were asked to create fake hotel websites; Hotel Eyrica was the culmination of their endeavors.
The Tab tracked down Bucksmore to tell them of the mix-up. When we explained things, Matt from Bucksmore said this
‘Good Lord…Right…Interesting. How bizarre. I see it now, yep. People actually think this is a real website? Wow, it says a lot for the quality of the work.’
He continued [holding back laughter] ‘I think that’s just bad luck all round really….sorry about any…erghh…quite a strange one that…ok…right…well I’ll take the link down from our website for starters.’
Ending the call he admitted that [this has been] ‘One of the most bizarre phone calls I’ve ever had.’
The Tab have informed Cambridge Police of the confusion, who have offered to help Matt and his team take the website down. It is unclear whether anyone has in fact been charged by the phone number listed, which is registered to an address in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire.
Moral of the story? Don’t be stupid: don’t trust the internet, don’t trust the police, certainly don’t trust English Language schools.
But you can always trust The Tab.