When I decided to plan a trip to the Grand Canyon, I knew I wanted to do it big. Sitting in a car for 10 hours only to turn around sounded kinda lame. So naturally, I decided to turn this adventure into a 5-day epic road trip. Our first stop? Tempe, Arizona!
To get a taste of the wild and crazy university culture, we decided to stay at The Graduate Hotel Tempe (appropriate, right?). This boutique hotel is located across the street from the Arizona State University aka ASU. Since all of the students returned home for summer vacation, it was a tad quiet. But that just meant we had the area all to ourselves!
Graduate Hotels are located throughout the country in major college towns. The Graduate Hotel Tempe is the furthest westward compared to its other hotel locations and situated across one of the biggest party campuses in the United States!
But don’t look to the hotel for a pool party rager as this place is where you can escape the heat and the chaos in a boutique lodging experience.
The Tempe hotel is designed to look like a natural history museum from Arizona, filled with artwork and furniture to resemble a southwestern vibe and focus on the city’s history and art.
Behind the front desk was an awesome display of the local sedimentary rock found throughout Phoenix. (The front desk attendant told me it used to be an ant-farm, but the foreign and fancy ants died from the constant temperature changes. Oops.)
Did I mention this place is pet-friendly? Let the hotel know in advance and they will provide you with a pet-safe room for your stay with your furry child.
The rooms themselves are incredibly spacious, with actual commissioned artwork from local artists in Phoenix. As you walk into your room, you don’t feel like you’re at a typical hotel but at an art show with a spotlight on the city’s colorful history and Native American influence.
Our room included an amazing view of the ASU campus and the mountains, a coffee machine, a big screen TV and spa-like toiletries. After snapping away at each, individual piece of art from the walls to the beds, I might have jumped on the bed like a five year-old.
Each room differs in size or in view, but each provides amazing artwork for you to wake up to. Along with the stunning decor, guests can expect:
- HD TV
- Triple Sheeting
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
- Docking Stations
- Iron/Ironing Board
- Beverage Chiller and Coffee Maker
- A safe
- Malin & Goetz Toiletries
- 24-Hour Fitness Center
- Outdoor Pool
Things To Do
Guests come to the Graduate Hotel primarily for three things: visiting ASU friends, escaping from the desert heat at the pool and enjoying the food!
Unfortunately, we had no friends at ASU and we didn’t have much time for the pool before our next road trip stop, so we ate at The Normal Diner, my favorite part of our stay.
The Diner was half vintage throwback half homage to all things Phoenix. It provided the same vibe as the hotel, with a bit more of a 1950’s feel.
The food was absolutely delicious with generous portions before we hit the road. But the most amazing part of the meal was… wait for it… The Cereal Killer Milkshake. Cool, ice creamy goodness blended together with Lucky Charms, Fruit Loops and Fruity Pebbles. My sugar high is back just thinking about it.
Aside from the The Normal Diner, The Graduate Hotel also has Tapacubo on site, a South American eatery focusing on lunch and dinner with a bar located right next to the pool.
Above the hotel lies a beautiful rooftop that hosts events throughout the year from musical gatherings to yoga classes!
Staff and Community
One of the hotel’s greatest attributes was the staff. The employees at The Graduate Hotel Tempe were incredibly kind and welcoming. Granted, the hotel was not incredibly full due to it being off-season for Phoenix tourism, but we still felt like royalty!
Contrary to snooty Angelenos, several people (both friendly staff and charming locals) approached me to inquire why I was taking photos of the hotel.
“Oh, well isn’t that wonderful!” said an older woman who lived in the neighborhood behind the hotel. “This is really a lovely place to live. It’s bustling and full of activity!”
It was the friendly community in and around Tempe that made our stay such a wonderful experience!