It’s only fitting that The Blackwell has a sleek, corporate look: the hotel is part of Ohio State’s business school, and students work at its bistro, where dinner comes with a view of the football field.
Whether independent B&Bs or historic resorts, the top college hotels deliver much more than proximity. After all, they cater to the high standards of parents who have paid small fortunes to educate their children—and those are standards any traveler will appreciate. These hotels often embrace the personality of their local institutions and provide an exceptionally adult, dignified experience.
The Charles Hotel, which serves the fuzzy-sweatered economists and thinkers of Harvard, doubles as a venue for jazz. It’s contemporary art that shines at The Mansion at Forsyth Park, where the on-site gallery serves as inspiration for students of Savannah College of Art and Design—and has been known to showcase graduates’ handiwork.
Other college town hotels naturally go for the signifiers of a cloistered academic tradition. That might mean book-lined shelves, as at New Haven’s The Study at Yale, or peaceful nooks for reading or writing, complete with in-room fireplaces. The Cedars of Williamsburg, built from the bricks of 19th-century buildings at Thomas Jefferson’s alma mater, the College of William and Mary, does away with televisions in the rooms.
The best luxury hotels pamper us in a way we can’t do at home, and The Claremont makes the grade. It has a commanding location overlooking the Bay Area, three pools, tennis courts, and a huge gym open to the UC Berkeley community. You might work out near a faculty member, but meals are hardly cafeteria-style. The resort’s executive chef is a protégé of The French Laundry’s Thomas Keller and follows a local, seasonal creed.
Berkeley, like most college towns, has plenty of off-campus activities to lure travelers. Blake Gumprecht, a geography professor at the University of New Hampshire, believes the big youth population and well-educated locals of these towns equate to a special charm and result in eclectic businesses that serve the community. He should know as he literally wrote the book: The American College Town.
Why not hit the road to conduct your own survey course; we’ve already done the hotel research for you.