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Destinations- The Graduate Hotel

The Graduate Hotel in the Heart of Charlottesville

By Erin Kelley

As seen in Virginia Bride Magazine

Walk through the doors of the Graduate Hotel in Charlottesville and you immediately know that this hotel is offering a different experience than all the cookie-cutter chains. The front desk is your first clue; instead of standing behind a typical modern marvel of cheap panel and chrome, the desk clerks are ensconced behind a giant, free-standing card catalog. A few of the drawers even hold pieces of candy for a little pick-me-up; one holds treats for your canine companion, who is welcome at the Graduate.

Check-in and you are given a keycard. Nothing unusual, right? Well, this keycard looks like none you’ve ever seen. Patterned after a student ID card, the keycard features the face and name of one of a host of celebrities or notables with ties to the Charlottesville area: Tina Fey, Jessica Lange, Ellen Heidingsfelder. It’s alright if you have to look that last one up.

Situated right in the center of the action, the Graduate is located on Main Street, just down from the Corner and across from the Grounds. A relatively new addition to the Graduate brand, the Charlottesville location carries on the tradition of its sister hotels by celebrating by the culture of the nearby University of Virginia campus and local region.


The rooms are a unique blend of comfort, sophistication, and kitsch – a step up from a UVA dorm room, but not so far removed. The room looks a little bit like the room you remember from the quad, with a desk situated prominently amongst the carefully selected, but subtly mismatched furnishings. The large Wahoo fish hanging over the bed is a subtle homage to the UVA Cavaliers. The credenza that the television sits on is adorned with silhouettes of yet more celebrities.

The lobby-level eatery, Sheepdog Café, and the second-floor Cavalier cocktail bar are unique locales that students appear to retreat to for both fun and study. The hotel prides itself on being the “living room” of the locality, offering a place where students and guests alike can feel comfortable mingling and just hanging out. Also on the second floor, a large balcony area overlooks Main Street. With comfortable furnishings and a wall-mounted television, this has become just the spot for watching a game and hanging out with friends.

The top floor of the hotel features the fabulous Heirloom rooftop restaurant and bar, offering even more spectacular views of the town. With décor and a menu sure to please the whole family, the Heirloom is a wonderful locale for a rehearsal dinner or a rooftop toast.


Additionally, the Piedmont Ballroom provides an effortlessly elegant backdrop for groups of up to 170 and offers its own sweeping view of the mountains.


The hotel’s recent addition of a dedicating bridal suite, providing a spacious area for the bride and her maids to get ready for the big event, adds to the charm of this wonderfully unique venue. The suite is decorated with pictures of decades of regional brides and opens out onto the second-floor balcony, providing a wonderful place for spectacular photo ops of your own.


The Graduate truly has thought of everything to provide you and your guests with a unique experience. UVA alum and Charlottesville lovers, in general, are sure to adore this fun and unique hotel.


The Graduate Charlottesville

1309 West Main Street

(434) 295-4333


Now Open: The Graduate Richmond


Continuing the tradition, the newest addition to the Graduate portfolio is now open just steps from Virginia Commonwealth University. This 205-room hotel is located on Franklin Street, one block from VCU, walking distance to the Virginia State Capitol building, downtown Richmond and the Broad Street dining and entertainment district.

The hotel features two food and beverage concepts: Brookfield, a lobby café, and Byrd House, the hotel’s 16th floor rooftop bar and poolside venue, which is open to the public. The restaurant serves perfected iterations of standard cocktails, lite bites, like Boardwalk Fries and New Orleans “Voodoo” Chips, as well as unobstructed views of Richmond.

Drawing inspiration from Richmond’s forward-thinking mindset, Graduate Richmond encapsulates the city’s social creativity and cultural innovation. Clad in warm walnut paneling, the lobby pays homage to native hero Arthur Ashe’s personal style and the tennis fashion he inspired with details such as perforated vinyl seating and a wall art installation of vintage eyeglass frames.

The hotel features over 2,800 square feet of meeting and event space including three boardrooms and one large ballroom available to accommodate social gatherings, banquets, corporate meetings, receptions and more.

The Graduate Richmond

301 West Franklin Street

(804) 644-9871


If you are planning a wedding in Roanoke Virginia, Richmond Virginia, Fredericksburg/Northern Virginia, The  Shenandoah Valley, Coastal Virginia or in Charlottesville Va, we can help with your wedding planning and ideas. 



The author: Angeline Frame

Angeline is the owner/publisher of Palm Beach Weddings Magazine and Virginia Bride Magazine and the show producer for The Greater Virginia Bridal Shows. She has a degree in Public Administration and Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University. A former model and wedding venue owner- she loves all things wedding , fashion and decorating. In her spare time she likes to write, travel and get new ideas to share with brides.