Highlights Of Home

Welcome to the Graduate Iowa City hotel. It’s an Iowa mashup – corn wallpaper, birds painted on the walls and local beers on tap. This hotel chain, Graduate Hotels, is working to represent the rich stories of the Midwest, with each hotel unique to the city it inhabits. New locations harness the community’s energy and immerse visitors in the local culture. 

Graduate Hotels locations can be found all across the Midwest, from Nebraska to Indiana. The Graduate claims to have done its homework to represent the Midwest atmosphere down to each detail. Jay LeaVesseur, the general manager at the Iowa City location, describes the Graduate’s approach to making a Midwest-themed hotel thrive, and how to make a Midwest stay appealing to each and every visitor, no matter their home state. 

“Whether you’re from out-of-state or right here at home, the Graduate represents a Midwest where everyone can find something to love, whether that’s the location, the decor or the people,” LeaVesseur said.

Credit: Zoe Brinker | Even the wallpaper and decor theme of the bathroom at The Graduate Hotel is Midwest. The wallpaper shows Iowa’s state bird, the Goldfinch, and the artwork shows the Iowa Football game tradition known as “the wave.”

The Art of Storytelling

Everything has a story to be shared, and Graduate Hotels wants every last detail of its locations to be more than just a design feature. 

“If you look past the corn and pigs on the wallpaper, you’ll also see Cap’n Crunch cereal depicted in reference to Cedar Rapids where they make the cereal,” LeaVesseur said. “We have the obvious Midwest represented, but it’s the details that make it tell a story.”

The Iowa City location’s library-like design pays tribute to its unique history as the “City of Literature.” Tim Taranto, a graduate from the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop, even came in and wrote every word from one of his books on the walls, covering the entire space in paper. Now that’s commitment.

But there’s one key difference between the Graduate’s lobby and a real library – every book is flipped on the shelf so the title on the spine isn’t visible.  

“Everyone is welcome here at the Graduate,” LeaVasseur said. “No one will be judged based on their cover. We demonstrate that through even the smallest details of our décor.” 

Even the name, Graduate Hotels, has a story behind it. Graduate Hotels prides itself on being located exclusively in college towns, from the University of Iowa to the University of Nebraska. 

“It’s all about reliving the glory days of the alma mater,” LeaVesseur said. These specific locations allow for great energy with dynamic residents. 

With the research done to recreate that Midwest college experience, Graduate Hotels has more than earned its diploma.

High ceilings in the center of the lobby in The Graduate Hotel with three hanging lamp shades, with the lamp having the patterns of local Iowa plants. The center of the lobby also has bookcases with books lined up without showing their spine. The walls and pillars of the lobby have chapters of a book written on them, which were hand-drawn by an author.
Credit: Zoe Brinker | The lobby of The Graduate Hotel is meant to resemble a library, as Iowa City is the “City of Literature.” The theme of literature carries from the books on the bookshelf to words on the wall.

It’s Always Local

As you continue beyond the lobby of the hotel, the attention to detail is impeccable. LeaVesseur 

wants every guest to have a tailored experience when visiting the Graduate.

A stay at the Graduate is a completely personalized and unique experience. 

“Our Iowa City location is all things Iowa,” LeaVesseur said. “That’s what we represent and the experience we want you to have. If you want a monochrome stay, the Marriott is down the street.”

Keeping with the friendly spirit of the Midwest, the Graduate also supports Iowa businesses. All foods and beverages offered in its coffee shop and restaurant are from local partnerships, from a local orchard’s cider to exclusive Big Grove Brewery beers. If it doesn’t have a Midwest story to tell, “we don’t want it,” LeaVesseur said. 

Guests from beyond the Midwest appreciate the charm that Graduate Hotels offers. Coloradan Ava Severs recently stayed at the Graduate in Lincoln, Nebraska, and seriously enjoyed the atmosphere.

“I loved my stay,” Severs said. “The Graduate was able to highlight the Midwest in a creative and fun way. It was unique without being cheesy.” 

So, is there corn on the wallpaper? Yes – but as LeaVesseuer said, the Midwest tale being told makes the Graduate Hotel “unapologetically unique.” Book a stay today and experience this unique Midwest cultural blend for yourself – corn wallpaper and all.

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