By Andrew Sessa

This autumn, as high school juniors and seniors arrive for campus tours and parents come to visit, they’ll find that new hotel offerings in college towns have never been more appealing and attuned to their locations, offering creative connections to campuses and surrounding communities. Whether owned by the colleges and universities or by boutique brands designed for this purpose, these hotels take better care of their guests and exhibit more school pride. They do it all in a way that’s proving to be big business, too.

Graduate Hotels, launched in 2014, leads the pack with 19 hotels. Eight of them debuted this year, most recently near Ohio State, in Columbus, Ohio, and Penn State, in State College, Pa., with outlets near Yale and the U.S. Naval Academy, in Annapolis, Md., opening this fall.

“We knew how dynamic these markets were and how passionate students and alumni can be,” says Graduate Hotels founder Ben Weprin, explaining the impetus to start the brand. “Our thought process was that a hotel that spoke to their needs, in a playful and nostalgic way, could be extremely successful.”

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