Did you ever wish you went to sleepaway camp as a child? I never even knew these fantastical places existed as a kid, but now that I am an adult I wish I had the opportunity to go back in time and experience it. Lucky for me, on our recent trip to Wisconsin, we were hosted at The Graduate Hotel Madison which feels just like what I imagine an adult summer camp would be like!
Canoes hanging from the lobby ceiling, a collection of outdoorsy plaids and a casual collegiate vibe give an uber cool feeling to the hotel. I felt like I stepped into a Wes Anderson film as I walked into the carefully curated lobby filled with college students hard at work at the shared tables.
Located right in between the University of Wisconsin and the state Capitol, The Graduate Hotel Madison is perfectly situated for a college visit, a business trip or even a family holiday away.
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The Graduate Hotel Madison
The best thing about The Graduate Hotel Madison (in a long list of things) is the location. This stylish contemporary boutique hotel is located just steps from State Street in between the University of Wisconsin campus and the Capitol building. Here you are easily within walking distance to the best aspects of town. You can walk down to the lake, you can walk to dinner, and if you need to drive you are within 15 minutes of most places.
Being in the middle of a college area, close to fraternity and sorority houses, you might worry about it being loud. I can honestly say my son slept like a rock. One night I heard some activity going on outside around 10 p.m. but I couldn’t see it to find out more. I was so curious if it was a protest or a football game. It didn’t last long and didn’t bother me at all. The benefits of being right in the middle of the action outweighs any possible noise in my view. But I am also from Los Angeles where our nights are filled with sirens and howling coyotes!
Interiors & Rooms at The Graduate Hotel Madison
Moving up to the rooms, you will be met with a classic view of American higher education from the adorable black and white “student ID” key cards to the clean fresh space inside. Rooms come with either king of queen beds, a desk, dresser and a chair for chilling.
In the bathroom, you will find the amazing Malin + Goetz bath products (in environmentally friendly refilled tubes in the shower).
The standard rooms might be on the smaller side for families, but there are also several suite options to choose from that provide ample space for families to spread out. However, our double queen room was more than perfect for my son and myself during our week stay.
The beds.. oh how I love a tall squishy bed and The Graduate Hotel delivers big here. Even at a 3 star, the bed will make you feel like you have just slipped into 5 star heaven.
Standard in all rooms is a safe, mini-fridge and closet space to store your suitcases after you unpack.
I’m not sure if all the rooms have the adorable BRAT and CURD pillows (see photo below), but they really should sell these as they are perfect Wisconsin souvenirs. I know you will join the fun and take photos with yours too!
All the Amenities
We loved the location of the hotel, the rooms and the amenities offered. For a small hotel, it packs a big punch with quick valet parking ($25 a night), a fitness room, a spacious and active lounge with a cafe as well as a popular rooftop bar and restaurant.
These days it’s an added luxury for a hotel to include free WiFi, and we are happy to say that The Graduate Hotel Madison delivers here. I cannot stand hotels that do not provide this to their guests, so it is always a happy day when I see it included. Thank you!
Cute little touches like the daily water and juice offerings in the Yeti coolers as well as the delicious cookies set out by the elevators every day are always amazing to see. It was a nice treat to come home to each day to see what our treat would be.
We also loved the overall efforts at being environmentally friendly from the cold water tanks to refill your water bottles to the cafe that allows coffee to be filled in your own cups and the bath products in refillable containers. Keep at it!!
Eating at The Graduate Hotel Madison
Even though you are situated right in the middle of the action in Madison with tons of food options, The Graduate Hotel Madison also adds their own offerings to the community on this front. The popular rooftop restaurant and bar, Camp Trippalindee, offers must have comfort foods with a great selection of local craft brews (and even local root beer!) with an outdoor fire pit to relax at until the stars come out. This is the type of commissary you wish you had at your summer camp! The view over the lake and surrounding neighborhood can’t be beat either.
Inside The Graduate Hotel Madison, the Portage Pi is an adorable cafe with a menu of hand pies, smoothies and of course coffee on tap to keep the students moving. The staff here are fantastic. My environmentalist son loved watching the students roll in every morning to refill their own coffee cups (yay for environmentally friendly policies!). My egg sandwich on a brioche and my son’s smoothie was quick and hit the spot for a day out exploring. Definitely a great option to have when you don’t want to venture around town looking for a place to eat before you have had your coffee!
What About with Kids?
During our stay a friend messaged me asking, “Is it really kid friendly?”. Honestly we enjoyed this hotel a ton. The decor was so cute and comfortable, spurring many conversations about college life. We even began to pretend this was our dorm room with our adorable keys that looked like student IDs.
Is it for everyone? Probably not, but if you have 1 child and you want a centrally located hotel to soak up all the vibes of Madison, this is your place. If you have more than 1 kid or come as a full family, you might prefer to book one of the suites.
The Graduate’s nostalgia inducing, beautifully decorated hotel easily transports you to summers of yesteryear and makes you want to relive those college days again even if you can’t manage late nights and early morning classes anymore! To top it off, the Wisconsin warmth and hospitality is abundant at The Graduate Hotel. The friendly staff were always there to answer our questions or just have a chat about their lovely city.
What do you think, would you enjoy taking your kids to a college town?
Video of The Graduate Hotel Madison
**Thank you The Graduate Hotel Madison for hosting my son and myself. As always all opinions are my own.**
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