U.S. Photo Credit: Graduate Seattle

Don’t Judge This Art Deco, Vaguely College-Themed Hotel By Its Site

May I suggest a certain collegiate-inspired spot for your next stay in Seattle?

I didn’t have the traditional living-in-a-dilapidated-dorm-while-surviving-all-nighters-on-ramen-and-Red-Bull college experience (well, not entirely, anyway). But if American pop culture—with its embarrassment of bawdy college comedies packed with beer-soaked ragers, regrettable hook-ups and frat-house antics—is to be believed, nothing productive (or wholesome) happens on post-sec campuses. And yet. On a recent whirlwind trip to Seattle (a few friends and I had made the pilgrimage from Vancouver for Shake Shack and the Glossier pop-up—nothing more, nothing less!), I found myself spending the evening a stone’s throw away from the University of Washington, a.k.a. ground zero for the aforementioned post-sec hijinks.

What brought me there was the Graduate Seattle, the newest location for a chain of boutique hotels across the U.S. that takes pride in its steps-away-from-collegiate-sites addresses. (As the Grad Seattle puts it, it’s “just a dawg walk from campus.”) I’ll admit my initial preference was to stay closer to downtown. But in searching for an accomm option that wouldn’t cost me more than five times the mileage money I would be spending to get to Seattle, I was immediately charmed by the Grad’s cozy-boho, art deco interiors. (Show me a scalloped headboard, powder pink walls and a vintage love-seat, and I’ll show you a woman who can’t say no.) As someone who loves a good theme—and more importantly, the good execution of a good theme—I was even more stoked when I realized, upon check-in, that the hotel’s design is inspired by its nearby college site, too.

Key cards are modelled after student IDs (which feature the faces of famous Seattleites like Bruce Lee and Beverly Cleary, no less); the lobby houses floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and handsome plaid chairs that impart the vibe of a grand campus library; and there are even students working away—typing on laptops or with their noses in books—in a study area tucked around the corner on the main level. “Are these hoodie-clad youths actually actors who have been hired to bring an authentic air to this vaguely college-themed hotel experience?” I wondered, probably aloud, when I first spotted them. No, the concierge would later tell me: it turns out that the Grad is a popular spot not only for prospective UW students and their families, but for actual UW students, too, who come to the hotel when more common on-campus study areas become full during exam season.

Weirdly enough, the presence of these college kids gave the space a real relaxed feel. And staying outside the hub of downtown Seattle, in general, gave me a chance to explore the city’s University District and all its hip thrift shops, cafes and budget-friendly boutiques. It’s worth noting that the Grad takes the space of the decades-old Hotel Deca (originally the Edmond Meany Hotel), and there remain signs—like the lack of exhaust fans in the bathrooms—that this is definitely a historic building. But in Seattle’s recent boom of hotel openings, the Grad may just be worth your buck.

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