In Seattle, an Art Deco Skyscraper Gets a Dapper Redo as a Graduate Hotel

by  Laura Motta | Oct 18, 2019
The Graduate Seattle
The Graduate Seattle / Photo courtesy of Laura Motta

When Graduate Hotels started making its way to college towns and campuses across America, its aesthetic seemed straightforward: think vintage school desks, team pennants, and color palates borrowed from university sports teams. Today, with the chain expanding rapidly to 25 cities in just the last five years, a more nuanced approach appears to have taken hold. In one of its newest properties, in Seattle’s University District — home to the University of Washington — the prevailing theme is a high-style version of a student apartment, and it’s dazzling. Here’s what we saw during our recent stay. 

What’s Inside

Hotel Type: Concrete Art Deco-style hotel built in the early 1930s and relaunched by Graduate Hotels in November, 2018

Number of Rooms: 154 rooms with double, king, or two queen beds

Bars and Restaurants: 

Poindexter Coffee: Cute, lobby-level, plaid-wallpapered coffee shop that morphs into a wine bar at night. 
Mountaineering Club: Sixteenth-floor partially-enclosed rooftop bar with a rustic Pacific Northwest trekking theme and 360 views of the city and Mount Rainier — on clear days, that is.

Hotel Trivia: Hotel architect Robert Reamer envisioned a modern property where every room would have corner-room views. Indeed, special placement of the windows makes this a reality at Graduate Seattle. 

What It Looks Like

The Design: Graduate Hotels has worked hard at this property to harken back to the 1930s and the hotel’s Art Deco bones, and it makes an impact. In the rooms, velvet chairs and couches, scalloped wood headboards, bulky knit blankets, and bakelite-style clocks strike a balance between cozy and glamorous. The theme sticks in the lobby, where there are plaid couches, a fire in the fireplace, and seashell mobiles alongside tall, Art Deco-style lamps.  

The Rooms: The “corner-like” effect makes for bright rooms with excellent views on higher floors. Rooms have comfortable desk-style workstations with lamps. Bathrooms are gleaming, straightforward, and low on fancy amenities. 

The Public Spaces: The lobby epitomizes coziness and caters to hotel guests who want some space to peck away at a laptop or just relax outside of their rooms. The area was quiet when we visited but likely perks up in warmer months and during university sporting and spirit events. 

Accessibility: Accessible rooms are available. The hotel has elevators up to the rooms, and there are a few steps in the lobby when moving between spaces. 

What It Feels Like

The Mood: Polished and expressive design make for a space that feels ultra cool and approachable at the same time. 

Who Stays Here: Friends and family of current and future university students comprise a portion of the crowd here, so the vibe at the hotel tends to feel youthful, even if the guests' ages tend to vary. This is hardly a rowdy spot, though. When we visited, the hotel floors were quiet and just a few people drifted in and out of the hotel lobby and coffee shop. 

Trend Watch: Almost everything about this hotel embraces the latest trends, from the quirkily themed rooftop bar to the dramatic hangout-ready lobby. On the other hand, we were happy to have old-fashioned amenities like a closet and an ironing board in our room. 

You’ll Love It If: You like vintage style, historic preservation, and an industrious student-led mood.

Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You: Seattle's University District sits somewhat apart from the major sights like Pike Place Market and the Space Needle. Factor in about 20 minutes in a car to reach those sights from the hotel, or about 40 minutes on public transportation.

What You’ll Get

Fitness and Other Extras: The hotel has a fitness center that’s free for guests to use. The use of bikes is complimentary, as is a unique program that loans LSTN headphones to guests. 

Four-Legged Guests: Graduate Seattle is pet-friendly. Pets stay free and your dog will even get a special gift courtesy of Bark Box. 

What You’ll Pay

Average Rates: $130 to $250 per night

When to Stay for Less: Seattle’s rainy and cooler months — think November, January, February, and March — are a great time to look for the lowest prices here. 

Resort and Other Fees: Guests can expect to pay Washington state taxes, a Seattle city tax, and a convention tax on their stay. This hotel does not charge a resort fee. 

Know Your Neighborhood

Area History: Seattle's University District started springing up in the 1890s, when the University of Washington relocated from downtown Seattle. The Graduate Seattle is among the tallest buildings in the neighborhood, which is a jumble of coffee shops, campus buildings, and fraternity and sorority houses. 

Important Local Attractions: The University of Washington itself, including its Husky Stadium, is the main draw here. University Village, an open-air shopping plaza of high-end shops, is also nearby.  

Getting There and Getting Around: Sea-Tac Airport is about a 30-minute car ride from the Graduate. Allow more than an hour, on a combination of bus and light rail lines, to reach it by public transportation. Seattle’s main tourist sights are accessible from the hotel by public transportation, but reaching them can be complicated and multiple transfers are to be expected. We recommend a ride hailing app for the easiest way around town.  

Walkability: The area is easily walkable. Be sure to pay a visit to University Bookstore, which is just a few minutes’ walk from the property. With floors of books, art supplies, stationery, and university swag, It is the largest independent bookstore in Washington.  

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