It’s been more than 50 years since the historic Hotel President in downtown Palo Alto ended hotel accommodations and converted into an apartment building in 1968. But this month, locals will have the chance to peek inside the newly remodeled structure that’s reopening as the Graduate Palo Alto.
Graduate Palo Alto, a university-inspired hotel that is part of the Graduate Hotels collection, takes up the former apartment-hotel building, which has been under a lengthy restoration process for the past few years. When it opens later this month, it will showcase many of the hotel’s original 1930s architectural features.
“A lot of the inspiration in the design of the space was taken through vintage photos and postcards we found in the hotel,” said Ben Weprin, CEO of Graduate Hotels. “We tried to recreate that.”
Graduate Palo Alto has converted 75 former apartment units into 100 hotel rooms and added two dining options, including a cafe on the ground floor named Lou & Herbert’s and a charming rooftop bar called President’s Terrace. President’s Terrace will add to Palo Alto’s bustling restaurant scene along University Avenue and neighboring streets, while also offering a rare rooftop bar space in the Peninsula.
Reviving the storied hotel was a tedious endeavor, Weprin admitted. The building fell into poor shape over the years and required Adventurous Journeys Capital Partners, the real estate company that owns Graduate Hotels, to make significant infrastructure upgrades. When Adventurous Journeys purchased Hotel President in 2018 for $65 million, it was tasked with seismic retrofitting, updating electrical, and adding new plumbing, among other requirements that accounted for the bulk of its budget.
Adventurous Journeys also restored and preserved aspects of the building’s physical appearance. The original Hotel President sign at the main entrance will remain intact, along with other exterior features that have gone untouched, like the building’s stucco facade and its original windows. Hotel President’s lobby, its original elevator and central staircase were also restored in the process. Weprin said that every accommodation was given a facelift and decorated with artwork that pay homage to the Bay Area.