Looking for accommodations near Purdue University? You can’t get closer than the Purdue Union Club Hotel. It was built on the campus in West Lafayette, Indiana, in phases from 1929 to 1953, as an addition to the Memorial Union. That landmark had opened in 1924 as a memorial to the university’s students who had fought in World War I.
A couple of years ago it was updated and reopened as the Union Club Hotel at Purdue University, Autograph Collection (a premium Marriott brand), 201 North Grant Street.
Black and Gold
Purdue University’s colors are black and gold (specifically, Boilermaker Gold and Smokestack Black) — perfect for an upscale hotel color scheme, especially when backgrounded by a neutral gray. Thoughtful design touches in the guestrooms include “Purdue plaid” carpet (that means black and white with a touch of “gold”), custom artwork, and a Purdue-crested pillow on each bed.
Photos of familiar Purdue faces are everywhere, from Amelia Earhart (above — who taught aviation technology at Purdue) behind the check-in desk to astronauts including Gus Grissom, Neil Armstrong, and Gene Cernan.
The “most premier room” is the Bay Suite (also called the Presidential Suite — below). It has a separate living area with wet bar and king-sized sofa bed in addition to the separate king-bed bedroom for a total of 675 square feet.
Dining options at Purdue Union Club Hotel
Hungry? There’s room service, but also three places to grab a bite. The most elegant (and complete) dining option is the 8Eleven Modern Bistro (below), which requires reservations. The unusual name, a nod to Purdue’s roster of astronauts, commemorates the Gemini 8 and Apollo 11 aerospace programs.
Here’s how the website describes 8Eleven: “Pairing the region’s farm-fresh, seasonal ingredients with a culinary nod to beloved bistro classics, our all-day dining menus showcase modern and approachable American dishes and traditional French favorites”. It’s open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The “less elegant” Leaps Coffee Shop is open for “a morning caffeine buzz, an energizing mid-day smoothie, or a late-night snack”.
The Boiler Up Bar is a cocktail lounge honoring the school’s “treasured traditions and iconic personalities”. Purdue’s mascot is the Boilermaker, as in the guy (yep: male) who runs a steam train engine boiler. I didn’t stop in the bar, but they claim to serve “farm-inspired” cocktails — perhaps as a nod to Purdue’s origins as a Land-Grant university. As noted in Wikipedia, “The mission of these institutions as set forth in the 1862 Morrill Act is to focus on the teaching of practical agriculture, science, military science, and engineering—although without excluding other scientific and classical studies”.
The fitness center includes cardiovascular equipment and free weights. There’s free high-speed internet and the hotel is pet friendly. There are seven event rooms covering 20,104 square feet: the largest can hold 700 guests.
Leave Your Legacy
The expected clientele for this hotel includes campus visitors and those coming to Purdue to attend conferences, but the core audience is alumni. The event spaces do a brisk business in weddings, and if you want a room on Homecoming, Graduation, or football weekends, you’d better reserve far in advance.
One clue that alumni are expected? Guests are invited to write about a “university moment” or “how you hope your legacy impacts the world” on a designated postcard. Slip it in the Legacy Box slot next to the concierge desk, and your story will be added to an annual Legacy Handbook.
I stayed in a king-bedded standard room, about 220 square feet. Unlike more recently built properties with expansive glass letting in lots of natural light, it had the old-style fenestration: just one window, about two feet wide and three feet high, in the room. The bathroom is a symphony in black and white.
You can make a reservation on the hotel’s website or via one of the usual booking sites like Booking.com or Expedia. Rooms start at about $218. Parking is across Grant Street at a Purdue garage that charges $11 per day.
Written by Susan McKee, who was a guest of the Union Club Hotel at Purdue University, Autograph Collection. Photos are courtesy of the Purdue Union hotel. Opinions expressed are her own.