College Kitsch with a Little Glitch

This past weekend my wife and I, and our dog Ruby, took a trip to Iowa City to visit the new Graduate Hotel. We haven’t been to Iowa City for several years so it was nice to walk around and see the campus again.

A little bit about the Graduate brand of hotels. The brand started in 2014 and now have 26 hotels around the country most of which are situated on college campuses. Even though most of the properties are larger, they have a boutique feel with kitschy décor and university design elements specific to that college. They have a great location if you’re visiting a student, conveniently located by campus, shops, bars, and restaurants.

Now let’s talk specifically about my stay at the Graduate Iowa City. The location is perfect, right at the entrance to the ped-mall surrounded by bars, restaurants and local shops. The lobby, common space, and rooms are all Iowa themed. Livestock wall paper, academic photos, pictures of sports teams, and the incorporation of famous graduates, most noticeably Gene Wilder. On that topic, the restaurant is called Gene’s with several nods to the man famous for Willy Wonka, such as the Snozzberry Freeze drink I had. There is also a coffee shop located on the property called Poindexter which serves breakfast.

The Good:

  • Design and décor is very trendy and on brand

  • Beds were super comfortable and the rooms were clean

  • Lobby and common space is inviting and offers areas to relax

  • Food at Gene’s was delicious and the drinks were neat

  • Coffee at Poindexter was great

  • Staff was friendly, especially Ralph at Gene’s

  • There’s a pet relief area right outside the hotel which was very convenient

The Bad:

  • Service here is severely lacking

  • Nobody available for valet, luckily there was a parking garage next door

  • Checked our bags since we were early and took about 15 minutes to find somebody to retrieve them when we did check in

  • Waited 35-minutes for a breakfast sandwich at Poindexter. Their system of food service should be improved as they currently just set food on the counter and leave it for you to assume it’s yours

  • Overall understaffed which put a bit of a damper on the stay

  • No pet amenities were provided as stated on the website

Final Thoughts:

I would stay here again for the location and hope that the level of service improves in the future. The restaurant is good but I would consider it a happy hour place and get dinner somewhere else. The coffee at Poindexter was some of the best, I appreciated that they have oat milk. The staff we did encounter were helpful and very nice.

If you have a Graduate in your hometown or college campus, give it a try, as I hope to try some of the other locations in the future!



  • Black Facebook Icon
  • Black Twitter Icon
  • Black Instagram Icon
  • Black Pinterest Icon
  • Black YouTube Icon




  • White Instagram Icon