The Hotel Grinnell is one of the most unique hotels in Iowa. Once a school, this now chic and upscale hotel is all about having fun!
We’ve never taken so many pictures of a hotel. Everything about the Hotel Grinnell was so unique and well thought out, though, that we wanted to capture everything! It’s the best hotel we stayed at during our road trip across Iowa and probably one of the most unique places to stay in Iowa. We loved everything about it!
Here’s the thing… The Hotel Grinnell was once the city’s junior high school! It was built in 1921 and served the community for decades. Then in the 1970s it stopped being used as a school. Instead, the space was used here and there as offices or as a community center. Then came Angela Harrington, who had a brand new vision for the school.
In October 2016, she purchased the property with business partner Steve Holtze and together they transformed the school into a modern and vibrant hotel. The classrooms have been converted into 43 guest rooms, the gymnasium into a ballroom, and the auditorium into a theater. Where the locker rooms used to be is now a fun restaurant called the Periodic Table. Everything is completely different, and yet they’ve stayed true to the origins of the building.
As you walk in to the hotel into what used to be the principal’s office, you find a small front desk with a living wall behind it. On the day of our arrival, we were greeted by Amelia. She was super helpful, was a wealth of knowledge, and was kind enough to give us a quick tour of the hotel.
There are 43 guest rooms in the Hotel Grinnell. Most have the original wood laminate from 1921, which we thought was really cool. Each room also has its own unique art; not one piece of art in the hotel is duplicated. Our room had a Star Wars theme. But more importantly, it had a beautiful and comfortable bed with pillowtop mattresses and Egyptian cotton sheets.
Our room also came with a mini fridge, coffee maker, and a Smart TV that let us stream our own content. We loved that feature because we could pick up right where we left off on Netflix lol! The sink area and bathroom were also really nice. The hotel chose to use organic toiletries, which we really appreciated.
What we especially loved about the Hotel Grinnell, and what makes it so unique, is how meticulous they are with details and accessories. Their design team really thought of everything! Our key card came in a small paper envelope that said “Hall Pass” and inside our room we found a chalk board as well as an apple and No. 2 pencil. There was even a tie on the door handle that said “Not Now” instead of the usual “Do Not Disturb” sign. How fun is that?
The Hotel Grinnell has created such a fun space in their lounge area! There are board games, shuffleboard, and a giant Scrabble!
The Hotel Grinnell restaurant is called the Periodic Table. Fun, huh? You can sit down at a table or by the bar. There’s also an outside seating area with gas fire pits (if you get chilly, the hotel has wool blankets you can borrow.) Oh, and if you’re wondering, yes that is the old scoreboard that used to keep score during the school’s volleyball and basketball games!
The Hotel Grinnell menu has a little bit for everyone and includes vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. You’ll find both hotel guests and locals eating and drinking at the Periodic Table. During our stay we had the Carne Asada Tacos and a Cosmopolitan. Although the taco was served differently than expected, the flavors were really good.
The hotel also offers a light continental breakfast where they serve cereals, breads, teas, and fair trade certified coffee from Kahawa Cup.
No doubt the most popular event held on the property is a Hotel Grinnell wedding. As we stated earlier, the old gymnasium is now a ballroom, perfect for a reception of up to 350 people. And the old auditorium is now a 400 seat theater, also perfect for a wedding. We even got a sneak peek of the Penthouse Suite which is perfect for honeymooners.
The hotel also has two bunk rooms with 10 extra long twin beds in each. These are perfect for bachelor/bachelorette parties, sports teams, family reunions, or just a bunch of gals looking to get away on a girls weekend in Iowa.
Pro Tip: There are over 100 wineries in Iowa! Make sure to visit some while you’re exploring the state!
The Hotel Grinnell is in such a convenient location to explore the city, unlike most hotels in Grinnell that are by the highway. It’s the only hotel in downtown Grinnell, and is within walking distance of shops, galleries, and Grinnell restaurants. The front desk will be able to point you towards fun things to do in Grinnell and can even lend you a bicycle for you to cruise around town in!
Grinnell is also only an hour away from three major metro areas, so even if you’re an Iowa local but looking for a weekend getaway, we think the Hotel Grinnell is perfect.
As if we haven’t given you enough reasons to love this hotel, here are a few more fun, interesting, and quirky facts about the Hotel Grinnell:
We really did love everything about this hotel! They created a modern hotel, with all the bells and whistles, that still feels like a casual hang out spot. And we really enjoyed how the school theme throughout the property pays tribute to the property’s beginnings; the contrast between old and new is something we like to see.
The hotel’s attention to detail is what really makes it so special and unique. Unlike chain hotels, there’s nothing cookie cutter about the Hotel Grinnell. We never thought we’d enjoy going to school SO much!
Thinking of booking a stay at the Hotel Grinnell? Visit their website. Tell them Buddy sent you! 😉
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**A big thank you to Travel Iowa for arranging our stay at the Hotel Grinnell. Although we were offered a complimentary stay, as always, all opinions are our own.**