Graduate Palo Alto

Graduate Palo Alto


Teddy Roosevelt wakes up in Jumanji: that’s the Graduate Palo Alto's remastered take on this historic hotel.


Maximalist old California charm with a collegiate twist. 

Palo Alto: a sleepy town turned tech center, where the streets are cleaner than microprocessor chips, where Teslas are sold in shopping malls, and you can feed chickens in suburban front yards with the click of a phone QR code.

Standing in aesthetic opposition? The Graduate Palo Alto. It’s eclectic. It’s maximalist. It’s ruggedly sentimental. Much of the hotel’s old California charm comes from the original architecture. It was once the storied Hotel President, built in 1929 and designed by Palo Alto architect Birge Clark, then used as affordable housing. A branded tapestry— a replica of Hotel President’s 1930s original —  hangs behind the front desk. 

In the lobby, heavy wood columns and wrought-iron banisters frame light walls and geometric tile floors. Dracena plants and moody bouquets of hydrangeas soften some seriously solid wood furniture that looks like it’s straight out of a Renaissance banquet hall — and will certainly survive the inevitable California earthquake.

Like all of the the Graduate Hotels, the space is adorned with collegiate paraphernalia. Here, the decor winks and nods to nearby Stanford University and Cardinal traditions, including hand-painted Redwood wallpaper, Redwood headboards and needlepoint pillows with game-day cheers. 

Amenities have been kept at a chic minimum. Lou and Herbert’s serves cafe fare (they’ve opted for the do-a-few-things-well route), and up on the rooftop, at the Presidential Terrace, you can swirl an expensive-but-creative cocktail. There’s no gym, but the hotel has partnered with nearby fitness studios to offer special guest rates for any classes you might want to “fit” in during your stay. 


Palo Alto always looks like the set of a Hallmark Christmas movie — Silicon Valley edition. 

Remember Pleasantview in the Sims 2? That’s pretty much Palo Alto in real life. It’s the cutest, cleanest, most expensive suburban town you’ll probably ever see. It’s also in the middle of Silicon Valley, where tech giants like Tesla and Hewlett-Packard (you can check out the garage where HP started) are headquartered, and home to the notorious Sand Hill Road

Despite the tech hustle and bustle — or perhaps because of it — Palo Alto has an excellent international food scene, plus some pockets of arts and culture, thanks to its proximity to Stanford. The hotel is in the heart of downtown in a really central location. (Sift through online reviews and you’ll see a lot of “great location!!” guest reviews). You’ll find plenty of renowned restaurants and cute shops along the tree-lined streets (which are lit by twinkle lights year-round) hear the hotel. Take a stroll through the quieter residential neighborhoods as well, where well-groomed multi-million dollar homes — both large and small — will make you sigh with American-dream envy.

While you’re at the Graduate Palo Alto, make sure to: 

  • Tour Stanford University’s campus (including the Rodin sculpture garden, the Memorial Church, and Fredrick Law Olmstead’s Main Quad). 3 miles, 13 minute drive. 
  • Get outdoors. Hike the Stanford Dish, Russian Ridge Preserve or Windy Hill Preserve – all of which are close by. They have gorgeous views and trails through Palo Alto’s grassland and Riparian woodland habitats.
  • See a double-feature at the historic Stanford Theater, a glitzy 1920s movie palace where you can still catch Hitchcock and other famed films on the big screen. 0.3 miles, 6 minute walk.
  • Slurp some noods at Ramen Nagi. The line may be long, but I promise, the spicy Red King ramen bowl is worth the wait. 0.3 miles, 6 minute walk.
  • If you’re looking for a delicious quick-bite on a budget, order a hummus bowl with pomegranate-braised lamb at Oren’s Hummus (0.2 miles, 5 minute walk) or a Chicken Tikka Masala Burrito at Pakistani-Indian fast casual Zareen’s (2.5 miles, 11 minute drive). 
  • Visiting for a special occasion or want something snazzy? Hit up the classic Greek white-tabled Evvia Estiatorio or eat at the bar at Michelin-starred Protégé.
  • Get a milkshake at the old-school Peninsula Creamery, a retro diner. 0.7 miles, 15 minute walk. 
  • Wander through the California Avenue Farmers’ Market, where you’ll encounter tons of produce vendors with surprisingly affordable prices, excellent food trucks, and a few cute babies and dogs. Perhaps you’ll even catch sight of a tech celeb or two. (This writer has personally glimpsed the Zuck himself). Head to California Ave, 2.5 miles, 8 minute drive. 
  • It goes without saying — take the Caltrain to sightsee in the gorgeous coastal metropolis of San Francisco. 


Wallpaper-forward, eclectic rooms that unabashedly scream Stanford. 

The first thing you’ll notice is the (figuratively) off-the-wall wallpaper. Intricate, jewel-toned floral walls and drapes might make your head spin — and transport you back into the Gilded Age, a playful nod to Northern California glam. Room decor celebrates nearby Stanford University and some of its notable alums, especially the artsy and athletic ones, like Sigourney Weaver, John Steinbeck and Eliel Swinton. (This isn’t a hardware-themed hotel.) Classic, dark-wood beds are topped with Serta Premium Plush Mattresses, while the heavy work desk and chair will make you feel like you’re locked in Rapunzel’s tower…or in Stanford’s Green Library

The bathrooms’ palm tree wallpaper (yes, Stanford’s Palm Drive) playfully contrasts with the checkered, terracotta-tiled walk-in shower. Bath products are Malin + Goetz. Other branded products that give tech company snack bars a run for their money? Coava Coffee and complimentary RightWater.

  • Queen or King Room guest room (starting at $225 or $265 per night): Cozy room where you can snuggle with your honey before the big game. Or on a rainy day. JK, it never rains in Palo Alto. Has a queen or king bed and desk.
  • Double Queen Room (starting at $245 per night): 278-square-foot room with two queen beds and a desk.
  • Corner King Room (starting at $325 per night): 289-square-ft room with a king bed, a desk and windows on two sides. (An ADA accessible version is also available.)
  • Deluxe King (starting at $339 per night): This 307-square-foot room has a little more space — all the better to fit the king bed, desk and swanky red tufted divan that would make any turn-of -the-century starlet proud.
  • Premium Corner King (starting at $429 per night): In this 333-square-foot room, you’ve got your divan for fainting, your desk for scurrying down some haphazard novel notes and two walls of windows for beautiful, natural light (gotta love a corner room). Plus a king bed.


The Graduate Palo Alto’s exquisitely decorated common spaces have the necessary amenities without overshadowing downtown Palo Alto’s surprisingly excellent food scene. 

Lou & Herbert’s Cafe And Bar

The decor here is Renaissance banquet meets Parisian art den. Deep green walls bring to mind the heights of the redwood forest, while the furniture is more like a chic California grandma’s living room. The menu is particularly vegan friendly, with dishes like the Kale Caesar “Goes Vegan” salad (with nori dressing) and Charred Vegetable Sandwich (with local chips). But don’t worry if you’re with your grumpy, meat-lovin’ midwestern uncle — they also serve up a classy-looking Bistro Filet. 

President’s Terrace

Small, rattan-encrusted rooftop bar with views overlooking downtown. If you time your evening drink right, you’re in for a real treat of a Santa Cruz Mountain sunset. Cocktails pay homage to famous Stanford alums and the Valley’s tech culture. Try the Silicon Sipper made with armagnac, Cointreau Noir, lemon, orange oils and a sugar rim. Bring your cash cow, because these drinks are expensive: this is Palo Alto, after all. 


While the Graduate Palo Alto doesn’t have an in-house gym, they’ve partnered with two fitness studios within close walking distance — Rumble Boxing and Yogasource — to give special drop-in class rates to hotel guests. If you’ve never tried boxing, Rumble is an easy entry HIIT workout where you get to punch the air to bumping techno pop. Yogasource offers a slew of yoga or yoga-adjacent classes. 

The hotel also rents bikes, which are a really good call for getting around extremely flat and extremely bike-friendly Palo Alto. 


The Graduate Palo Alto is pet-friendly, but it will cost you: toting along Todo adds an extra $75 per stay.


What is the Graduate Palo Alto’s address?

488 University Avenue Palo Alto, CA 94301

When is check-in at this Palo Alto hotel?

Check-in is 4 pm and checkout is 11 am.

What is the minimum age requirement to check in?

Guests must be 18 or older to reserve a room at Graduate Palo Alto.

What’s the parking situation like?

The hotel has valet parking for $50 per day but there’s also free street parking, on or near University Ave., depending on the day and availability.

What are some of the amenities at this boutique hotel?

Amenities include free wifi, air conditioning, a flat screen TV, and a refrigerator.