Hotel News

School's in session at new Graduate Hotel concept debuting near Dallas' SMU

School's in session at new hotel concept debuting near Dallas' SMU

Graduate Hotel
Their lobbies are always colorful with a touch of whimsy. Photo courtesy of Graduate

A groovy hotel concept is coming to Dallas: Called Graduate Dallas, it's a boutique chain that embraces a school theme, and will take over Hotel Lumen, located across from Southern Methodist University.

A spokesperson confirms that the renovation will begin in 2021.

"Graduate Dallas is expected to debut as part of the Graduate Hotels collection in Spring 2022," says the spokesperson in a statement. "The hotel is currently being operated as The Lumen under the operations of the Graduate Hotels team. Graduate plans to begin to transition the property in 2021."

Graduate Hotels is a collection of properties located in college towns across the country such as Berkeley, Seattle, and Nashville, with each hotel carefully reflecting the motif and culture of its nearby college.

The concept was launched in 2014 by Chicago-based real estate company AJ Capital Partners. They opened their first two locations in Athens near the University of Georgia, and in Tempe, near Arizona State. There are currently 28 hotels across the U.S. and an additional six hotels set to open by the end of 2021.

The chain slyly refers to itself as "hand-crafted" boutique hotels, located in the most dynamic university towns in America. "Relive your glory days with Graduate!" they proclaim.

They aspire to five-star status with nice amenities and friendly service, but their uniqueness comes from the way they incorporate nods that reference the heritage and history of the university and its hometown.

In Nashville, that means a mural of Minnie Pearl behind the reception desk; bright florals with nods to Tennessee history; and portraits of Dolly Parton hanging over your bed. The Graduate in Tucson has a desert-scape and Navajo blankets.

With the completion of Graduate Dallas still a year off, we'll have to wait to see if it's cowboy boot lamps or a mural of Larry Hagman.

Their hotel lobbies always come with a strong dose of whimsy and loads of cheerful color. Most locations feature one-of-a-kind antique furniture and historical photos on the walls. The concept also has a subtle retro vibe, from the vintage font used for its logo to its nostalgic celebration of the youthful optimism of school days.

All of their properties have all-day restaurants, and some also have a cafe concept called Poindexter.

Conde Nast Traveler describes their audience as "parents and visiting profs who want to upgrade from musty family inns and anonymous limited-service hotels," while Inc. magazine lauds their diligence on nailing the local lore, stating that Graduate hotels double as "hyperlocal storytelling vessels."

The Lumen debuted in 1963 as a motel which it remained until 2012 when it was transformed into a boutique hotel by owner Tim Headington; he sold it to AJ Capital Partners in 2019.