What We Love
- Convenient location smack in the middle of downtown and on the edge of the University of Wisconsin campus
- Rooftop bar and restaurant, the Madison Blind, offers views of Lake Mendota and the capitol building and serves local-leaning snacks like cheese curds as well as heartier fare like sausage plates
- Clever uber-local style in the cheerful lobby and 72 guestrooms
- Bathrooms offer upscale Malin + Goetz products
What To Know
- Bike rentals ($5 an hour) make it easy to explore nearby neighborhoods
- Guestroom decor pops with plaid accents and academic touches like desks that could have been lifted from an upscale dorm room, as well as sketches of local personalities
- Suites are well suited to families, complete with pullout sofas
- A 14.5 percent tax will be collected by the hotel upon check-in
- Free WiFi
- Handicap Accessible
- Parking On Site
Steps from Wisconsin’s capitol building and situated on the edge of the University of Wisconsin campus, the 72-room property evokes nostalgia for the good old days of college while boasting a decidedly modern style. The clever design aesthetic will delight any type of guest, from future coeds to business travelers to the leisure set, starting with the canoes turned chandeliers, handsome trophy case and a communal oak table in the lobby. (Be sure to grab a snack from the lobby’s coffee and juice bar, Portage Pi.) The guestroom decor pops with plaid accents and academic touches like desks that could have been lifted from an upscale dorm room, as well as sketches of local personalities, while the bathrooms offer upscale Malin + Goetz products. The spacious rooftop bar and restaurant, the Madison Blind, is a lovely light-filled space to settle in for local-leaning snacks like cheese curds or heartier fare like a sausage plate while taking in the view of Lake Mendota and the capitol building.
In the Area
Savor the flavor of this lively college town by strolling (or rolling, on one of the hotel’s rental bike) through downtown and the University of Wisconsin campus, both of which are just blocks away. Gastropubs are a favorite gathering spot for students, locals and visitors; check out the original location of the Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company, the first brewery to open in Madison. Just a block away, another perennial favorite is the Old Fashioned, which serves Wisconsin favorites like cheese, brats and — of course — beer. A bit farther afield is the Freiburg Gastropub, which offers authentic German fare in the Monroe Street dining district.
How to Get There
Having stayed at the Graduate Madison, visiting the Graduate Madison was a great disappointment. While the location is excellent, rooms are small and the guest bathrooms are in bad-need of renovation. The shower stall is simply repugnant and the baseboards look like they hadn't been cleaned in months. Lighting is poor, carpet is unappealing, and two people cannot share the loo. Worst of all is the noise level. If you book an 01 or 15 room you are directly across from the elevator, which "bings" all night, and your view is the wall of a neighboring building. Walls are poorly soundproofed and you are easily able to hear your neighbors as well as the revelry coming from the rooftop bar. On the plus side, beds are comfortable and the day manager, Stephen, is both charming and accommodating (as opposed to the evening desk clerk who was not). Rate was $379, while Ann Arbor's was $333 for a room nearly double the size with greater design, amenities, and comfort. The Edgewater would have been a better choice of hotel.
My family and I stayed at The Graduate for one night in a King Suite. We were greeted right away by the front desk agent. He told us we had to check out the roof top restaurant while we were there and had other helpful information for us. He was very knowledgeable about the hotel and area. The rooftop bar/restaurant was really fun and had great food. There were many people up there and seemed to be a popular spot with a view of the capitol building. Our room was decorated like the rest of the hotel with a definite collegiate look with lots of character. Very cute! We really enjoyed our stay and the ability to walk to shops and restaurants being right off State Street. It was also cool being so close to the UW Campus and Memorial Union. We will definitely stay again!
First, we paid $350 for two nights for this hotel, which is not cheap. And next weekend their rates were even higher. I now regret just not booking at Hilton for a similar rate. The website pictures are very misleading. Our room is very small...the bathroom even smaller! Two people cannot be present in this bathroom. We are travelling with a baby and it's very crammed and uncomfortable! The cabinet door was broken when we arrived. There is no vent in the bathroom. The light in the hallway is so dim it's no use to turn it on. The treadmill in the gym only has one channel (sales channel) and it's very old.
There is no choice for parking aside from $25 per night vallet.
What's nice: the bed is good but could be bigger. The view from the rooftop restaurant is nice.
The people are very nice. The front desk and the vallet. Everyone is treating us very nicely. I'm just so disappointed in the level of comfort and room size.
This brand seems to invest more in the decor than comfort and that's not my type of hotel. Never again, Graduate, sorry:) for half the price, sure, but not for $400!
This hotel is in a great location right near the UW campus, but otherwise it is very disappointing. We had one very major problem but the hotel is also a miss in terms of everyday customer service.
We had booked three rooms at this hotel to celebrate a family occasion. One person's flight was delayed significantly. Therefore, we informed the front desk that he would be arriving later that night and they confirmed that the room would be held for him. Upon arrival, he was informed that there was no longer a room for him since they had overbooked the hotel. We were stunned. It is bad enough to practice overbooking in the hopes of being able to get paid twice for a room if someone is a no-show, but to absolutely know someone is coming and to sell the room out from under them is really inexcusable (especially knowing our personal situation that we were a family wanting to celebrate an event together). The hotel did reimburse us for the cost of the room, of course, and also paid for him to stay in a different hotel, but this does not excuse the behavior.
In addition to this major issue, the hotel lacks comfort and customer service. Rooms are small, especially the bathrooms, and the walls are thin. Most people at the desk were friendly, but it is difficult to get anything done without them consulting a manager. A $9.50 breakfast was incorrectly charged to our room and the front desk attendant couldn't just remove it. She had to send an email to her manager and we are still following up to make sure the charge will be removed. Ridiculous. I couldn't even get an answer when I called prior to my stay to ask about whether there were usb ports in the room in which to directly charge my phone instead of plugging into a standard outlet.
I really want to like this hotel because the location is terrific and it is adorable. However, I won't stay here again. The trendiness just disguises the fact that it is a very average hotel with very average customer service and a policy that doesn't protect its guests.
My daughter and I visited a lot of colleges over the course of a week so we had the opportunity to "try out" a variety of college town hotel options. Everyone said we "had to" stay at the Graduate. Having indulged in two nights at this "chain" (Madison and Ann Arbor) I have to say that I just do not understand what the excitement is about. Our stay at the Madison Graduate property in particular was very underwhelming. The decor is catchy and fun, yes, but other than that, I cannot say that this hotel is anything special and certainly does not justify the rate they request. To be specific, the rooms are small, the bathrooms are very small and have no ventilation. The walls at the Madison were paper thin (we could hear the conversation in the room next door.) . The gentleman at the check-in desk was so busy with whatever he was doing on his computer when we arrived to check in that he never once looked up while we completed our check in process - not once. Later, when my daughter went to ask the same man for some change to tip the valet (which is mandatory and not speedy) he replied that he did not have any change. He wasn't bothered or apologetic that he could not help her with this simple request.
On the plus side, the beds are very comfortable and the cafe is a nice plus, although not inexpensive. The man at the desk the following day was very friendly as I explained that the ventilation system in our room did not function at all, forcing us to sleep with the window open to have any air circulation.
I think for our next college trip, I will go spend our dollars on the brands that invest in the comfort of the rooms not the decor of the lobby.