Graduate Hotels understands the powerful nostalgia that college conjures. Ben Weprin, a real estate entrepreneur, founded the boutique chain in 2014, and eight years later, it has 33 locations close to universities across the country. Each hotel is unique and carefully crafted by an in-house team of 20 designers to weave in a university’s distinct culture and history. The result is unapologetically maximalist, with layers of colors, prints and textures, along with quirky, place-specific art.
Graduate Hotels has hit on an unexpected gold mine. Weprin told me that hoteliers didn’t see much value in college towns, because visitors tend to come irregularly, such as graduation season and reunions. Weprin believed that if he could create a compelling design that leaned into nostalgia and history, he might attract a broader range of guests all year round. The bet has paid off: Summers, a typically slow time for college-adjacent hotels, are Graduate’s busiest season. And the company is expanding quickly, building at a speed of about ten hotels a year. A new Palo Alto hotel opens this month, blocks from Stanford University, in a historic Spanish Colonial building.