Inspired Digs at Graduate Palo Alto

Graduate Hotels is a relatively new hospitality company with hotels located in college towns, primarily in the United States. No two properties are alike and the brand has made a name for itself by designing hotels that pay tribute to the neighborhoods they call home. The Graduate Palo Alto takes the concept a step further, giving a historical Northern California property a colorful new role in the community.

Formerly known as Hotel President, the Spanish-Colonial building was constructed in 1929. The hotel’s namesake was Herbert Hoover, the 31st President of the United States, and one of the first students to enroll at nearby Stanford University. The property functioned as a hotel through the late 1960s, then an apartment complex, before undergoing an extensive renovation and reopening as a hotel in 2023.

Lobby at the Graduate Palo Alto hotel

From the building’s entry marquee to its lobby with exposed wooden beams, it’s apparent the recent restoration took great effort to preserve the landmark’s character. The tapestry hanging behind the front desk was recreated using an old interior photo of Hotel President, Spanish Colonial ceramic tiles in the lobby replicate the originals, and the hotel’s first elevator remains in service.

The six story Graduate Palo Alto offers 100 rooms. There are nine accommodation categories to choose from ranging from a Premium Corner King to a standard Graduate Queen room, but all lodging options have the same design and feel. 

Room with two queen beds at Graduate Palo Alto

I stayed in a Graduate Queen Queen on the sixth floor. The colorful botanical wallpaper dominated the room, but if you take the time to look closely, there are number of nods to both California and Stanford University. Headboards feature the silhouettes of California redwood trees, and throw pillows atop the beds boast Stanford’s football team’s unofficial chant, “Whose House?” and “C-House.” Wall art ranged from a sketch of actress Sigourney Weaver and a polaroid photo of tennis player John McEnroe – both Stanford alums – to a painting of a quail, California’s state bird.

Bathroom in a room with two queen beds at the Graduate Palo Alto

The bathroom boasted a spacious walk-in shower stocked with Malin + Goetz bath amenities in eco-friendly, refillable bottles, and refreshingly plush bath towels. However, the single sink vanity didn’t offer much room for guests’ personal toiletries. It was a bit of a squeeze for my daughter and I to fit everything, and would be even more difficult if there were three or four people staying in the room.

Along with a small refrigerator stocked with water in recyclable aluminum cans, there’s a safe, iron and full-size ironing board. While there is not a coffee maker, rooms do offer an electric kettle and instant coffee. Tea bags are not provided, so tea drinkers should plan accordingly.

Open all day, Lou & Herbert’s offers everything from coffee and cocktails to avocado toast, roasted cauliflower, and giant chocolate cookies. Another subtle nod to the hotel’s neighborhood, the eatery is named after former President Herbert Hoover and his wife, Lou Henry Hoover, the first woman to graduate from Stanford with a geology degree.

Lou & Herbert's Cafe at the Graduate Palo Alto

The rooftop President’s Terrace offers a similar menu to Lou & Herbert’s, but with a few more seafood-focused options. The restaurant offers nice views of the area, but its rooftop perch also means hours are extremely weather dependent; inquire during check-in for current hours.

Graduate Palo Alto does not have a fitness center, but guests can access discounted drop-in class rates at a pair of nearby fitness studios. A number of complimentary bike rentals are also available through the front desk.

do not disturb sign at Graduate Palo Alto

The hotel is conveniently located between two major airports; San Francisco International Airport is located 20 miles to the north, and Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport is 17 miles south. Stanford University is about a 15-minute drive.

Rates for a Graduate Queen-Queen start at $299. You can check for a better rate at,, or another booking site. Wi-Fi is included, and there is no resort fee. Valet parking is available for an additional fee, however, charging for electric vehicles is not available. The lack of EV charging stations was especially surprising given the property is located in the heart of tech-focused Silicon Valley.

Pet-friendly, Graduate Palo Alto welcomes dogs of all sizes. There is a pet fee of $35 per night.

Review and photos by San Francisco Bay Area travel writer and television correspondent Dana Rebmann. Her stay was organized by The Lodge at Healdsburg, but as always her thoughts and opinions are her own.


Add Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.