Ever wanted to relive the college experience but without the messy roommate and lousy food? Thanks to Graduate Hotels, you can. The recently opened collection of boutique hotels offers luxurious rooms with whimsical, university-themed touches, all within walking distance of vibrant college communities.
The Concept: Launched in October, 2014 with the opening of Graduate Tempe in Arizona and Graduate Athens in Georgia, Graduate Hotels incorporates design elements that pay tribute to the local community and to neighboring university. At Graduate Tempe, for example, you’ll find an ant farm behind the front desk, a nod to Arizona State University’s insect program.
The touches are subtle. No university colors or school banners here. Instead, room keys are student IDs, the “Do Not Disturb” signs are pennants, and the hotel directories are designed like Theme books. You’ll find cork board in the elevators, and “common areas” near the lobby for relaxing.
The Hotels: The 140-room Graduate Tempe gives off a Mad Men vibe, circa mid-1960s, but the hotel is all about modern luxury, including complimentary Wi-Fi. Choose between the less expensive Garden View rooms (from $89) that overlook lush the lush Tempe neighborhood behind the hotel or Campus View rooms (from $119) that offer spectacular views of “A” Mountain and the university at its base.
Located a short walk from the University of Georgia, Graduate Athens retains the plantation feel of its predecessor, The Foundry Inn & Spa, while paying tribute Athens’ local art scene with vibrant artwork and live music performances. Standard king rooms start at $79, but you can upgrade from there. All suites feature reclaimed hardwood floors and extra living space. Enjoy true Southern style with a stay in the early 19th century Hoyt House (from $200).
The Food: Graduate Hotels serve the meals you craved as a college students, often with a grown-up twist. At Graduate Tempe’s signature restaurant, The Normal Diner—ASU was originally the Territorial Normal School—you can order the a Havarti and cheddar grilled cheese sandwich with homemade tomato soup ($11.95), chicken and red velvet waffles ($12.50), or a double Angus cheeseburger ($10.50). Or, try the hotel’s other restaurant, Tapacubo, where you order food from visiting food trucks and sip margaritas dispensed from a food-safe, replica gas tank.
The Foundry at Graduate Athens takes its name from the onsite foundry where blacksmiths crafted the university’s famous arch and double-barreled cannon. We recommend the build-your-own Angus burger ($11, plus 50 cents for each topping), the Southern fish and chips ($12), and shrimp and grits ($17). If you’re not in the mood for a full meal, the grill serves a full array of appetizers along with local beers and spirits.
The Deal: Both hotels offer several package deals. Check out Graduate Tempe’s Gammage Theater Package, available for the next year through December 31, 2016. Starting at $129 for a standard king room, the package includes a $50 restaurant credit for either of the hotel’s restaurants and free transportation to Gammage Memorial Auditorium, so you don’t have to cross Apache Boulevard and navigate the parking lot in dress shoes.
At Graduate Athens, the dreaded Freshman 15 is actually a good thing. The Freshman 15 Package features a 15 percent discount on your accommodations, $15 credit for the property’s Iron Works Coffee Co., $15 credit for The Foundry, 15 percent off a spa service of your choice, and free admission to music events at The Foundry during your stay. But, hurry! This deal expires December 31, 2014.
Watch for more Graduate Hotels, each with their own unique personality, to open in 2015 in Madison, Wisconsin; Charlottesville, Virginia; Oxford, Mississippi; and Bloomington, Indiana.