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Graduate Hotels is a new hotel group that’s focusing on opening properties in university-anchored towns across the country. Since its August 2014 launch by businessman Ben Weprin, the brand has opened nine hotels, in markets like Berkeley, California; Lincoln, Nebraska; and Richmond, Virginia.  Each property boasts unique, distinctive design elements, such as the nearly 9,000 National Geographic magazines that flank the lobby of Graduate Berkeley—which, of course, mirrors the colors of UC Berkeley—and the sweet tea recipe found on the wall at Graduate Athens, where the recipe was, in fact, concocted.

“Each Graduate Hotel is as unique as the city in which it resides,” says Andrew Alford, chief creative officer. “Although the cities are rooted in collegiate tradition, their personalities, qualities, and aesthetics are as varied and unique as each of us are as individuals.”  Locally sourced art collections, bold colors, fearlessly eccentric patterns and prints, and rich textures add to the uniqueness of each boutique hotel. “The joy of creating a Graduate Hotel is the joy of being a historian, screenwriter, actor, designer, and artist all wrapped up in one, with the goal of delivering a bespoke experience that celebrates the community in which it resides,” adds Alford.

We chatted more with Alford to get the design scoop on each of the brand’s properties, and hear his inspiration behind each.  


Graduate Ann Arbor, 615 E Huron St, Ann Arbor

“Graduate Ann Arbor captures the feeling of strolling through a tree-lined campus, on your way to a century-old library,” says Alford. “Guests can study or socialize at a 40-foot-long communal table or lounge in classic Eames chairs upholstered in vintage tapestries, all under a ceiling that appears to be made from books. The palette is rich and comfortable, with emerald greens, persimmon, and earth tones set against materials that range from reclaimed wooden yard sticks and antique mirrors to chalk boards with scribbled engineering equations.”  


Shop the Ann Arbor look:

Canal Velvet Sofa, Moe’s Home Collection, $1,679 Holmes Sconce, Arteriors, $336 Borough Leather Chair, CB2, $749 Arabella Bar Cart, CB2, $399

Graduate Athens, 295 E Dougherty St, Athens

“This property is a tale of two cities,” says Alford. “Classic southern preppy is represented by plaids, florals, and houndstooth patterns, while the alternate creativity of the city is on display in the art, unconventional furniture choices, and unexpected color combinations.”


Shop the Athens look:

Roy Arm Chair, Joss & Main, $349.99 St. Tropez Bed in Hermes Orange Faux Leather, ModShop, $2,345 Talon Floor Lamp, Safavieh, $227.99

Graduate Berkeley, 

2600 Durant Ave, Berkeley “This is like stepping into the exotic den of a global traveler and collector,” says Alford. “The Persian velvet walls are the backdrop for a worldly collection of rattan furniture, Middle Eastern rugs, and chinoiserie objects—all creating a stage set that should smell like rare spices and sound like travels to parts unknown.”

Shop the Berkeley look:

Banded Multicolor Stripe Rug, CB2, $999 Cusco Pillow with Down-Alternative Insert, CB2, $49.95 007 Bench in Emerald Velvet, ModShop, $1,495 Javadi Side Table, Moe’s Home Collection, $559

Graduate Charlottesville, 1309 W Main St, Charlottesville

“This location captures the history and rich beauty of its home city,” says Alford. “The rich colors are inspired by the myriad of greens of Virginia’s landscape, the brick reds of the university’s historic buildings, and the ivories of Jeffersonian architecture.”

Shop the Charlottesville look:

Quinn Swoop-Arm Chair, Rose Velvet, One King’s Lane, $268 Mongolian Lamb Pillow Cover, West Elm, from $79 Vintage Wall Art Tennis Racquet, Factory 20, $380 Vintage Barstool, Ali Express, $3,199.20

Graduate Lincoln, 141 N 9th St, Lincoln

“Here, you can experience Americana in a brand new way,” says Alford. “Drawing inspiration from the great state of Nebraska, the hotel’s design features everything from corn patterns used as tropical motifs to brick walls inspired by the hotel’s location in the Haymarket warehouse district. A carefully collected range of vintage furniture hints at yesterday, all while maintaining a fresh feeling that’s distinctly the Lincoln of today.”


Shop the Lincoln look:

Carlo Mid-Century Chair, West Elm, $599 Iveta Abolina Tropical Lush Tapestry, Deny Designs, $68.99 Aroh Co. Magnetic Map – United States, West Elm, $44 American Dream Wood Art Print, Kirkland’s, $119.99 Banana Leaf 2 Light Wall Sconce, Varaluz, $219

Graduate Madison, 601 Langdon St, Madison

“This is a summer camp for grownups who still have a youthful heart,” says Alford. “A multitude of plaids are set against a palette of red, navy blue, and hunter green, creating the perfect stage for repurposed vintage objects, art, and furniture—such as antique canoes that have been transformed into chandeliers.”

Shop the Madison look:

Mr. Smith Cranberry Sofa, Horchow, $4,899 St. Tropez 3 Door Credenza, Modshop, $2,195 Macewan Plaid 22×22 Pillow, One King’s Lane, $188

Graduate Oxford, 400 N Lamar Blvd

“The interiors are the seersucker suit or floral dress worn with cowboy boots,” says Alford. “The elegant fashion of Oxford is captured with florals, stripes, polka dots, and plaids in a beautiful palette of pink, navy blue, gray, white, and canary yellow.”


Shop the Oxford look

: Fallon Blue Area Rug, Surya, $69.49 Audio Pro Addon C5 Grey Wifi, CB2, $249 Monaco Round Cigar Table, Worlds Away, $227.99 Carolines Treasures Flower Rectangle Decorative Outdoor Pillow, Hayneedle, $28.77

Graduate Richmond, 301 West Franklin Street, Richmond

“This hotel features a tailored interior that balances county club preppy with elements of the city’s punk and creative community,” says Alford. “The palette is thoughtfully monochromatic in navy, periwinkle, camel, and cream, allowing the art to shine through. It tells the stories of local heroes such as Arthur Ashe, local punk bands such as Gwar, and Virginia’s state dog, the American Foxhound.


Shop the Richmond look:

Ceramic Paris Lamp, Safavieh, $140.49 Tall Leather Grid-Tufted Headboard, West Elm, from $649

Graduate Tempe, 225 E Apache Blvd, Tempe

“This property showcases a new version of Southwestern interiors,” says Alford.  “It is equal parts natural history museum and just flat out fun, with a riot of patterns, colors, and eccentric art.”


Shop the Tempe look:

American Flag Wool Throw, Faribault, $180 Leather Desk Chair, All Modern, $139.99 The Tander Credenza, Control Brand, $2,257.99

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