Northeast

8 Ivy League Hotels: Have an IVY League Experience Without the SAT Score

You might not have the SAT scores to get into a Harvard, Yale, Brown, or Princeton, but you can stay in these Ivy League hotels.

There’s no denying the allure of The Ivy — those eight prestigious schools that make up the band of the most elite colleges and universities in our nation. The average acceptance rate for the 2022 entering class of Ivy League students is well below 10 percent. But those challenging stats don’t diminish the desire to grab a t-shirt at the university bookstore and proudly brag “I went to Harvard.”

We’re offering you a way to do just that — sorta. Here are eight hotels where you can spend a night or two in close proximity to each of our nation’s Ivy League schools. Experience that Ivy aura, rub elbows with the tweed jackets, open a book and lounge on the pristine, grassy “lawn,” “green,” or “yard.” Then snag that t-shirt at the campus bookstore and proudly proclaim “I went to Yale.”

Here are eight hotel recommendations situated near our nation’s most elite academic institutions.

Brown University

Brown University’s story began in 1764 when the school opened under the name “College in the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.” Brown was the first higher education institution in the country to accept students regardless of their religious affiliation.

In total, 54 members of Congress, eight Nobel prize winners, one supreme court justice, 55 Rhodes scholars, and 21 Pulitzer Prize winners have attended the Providence-based university. Other famous Brown alum include JFK Jr., Emma Watson, JD Rockefeller, and Janet Yellen.

A few notable names began at the esteemed school, but never finished, including Ted Turner (he was kicked out after his third year), John Heisman (attended Brown for two years before transferring to U. Penn.), and Sidney Frank (founder of Grey Goose and Jågermeister) who attended for one year, but was forced to leave as he couldn’t afford tuition beyond the first year. After securing his large fortune, Frank started scholarship funds at the university so future students would not be forced to leave the school under similar circumstances.

Where to Stay in Providence, Rhode Island

A Hipster Venue with a Youthful Twist

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Head to The Dean on Fountain Street. This small, 52-room hipster venue with a youthful collegiate twist is a great spot to enjoy the happenings at Brown (and the even closer Rhode Island School of Design). The hotel has its own karaoke bar (The Boombox), gourmet coffee shop (Bolt), a beer hall and a posh cocktail lounge (try the Block Island iced tea). The affiliated restaurant, Food by North donates a portion of every dish sold to a local shelter or food bank.

The Dean is a relatively new hotel, housed in a historic 1912 vintage Providence building. Despite being a newer kid in town, The Dean has had a ton of press hailing its gutsy design choices. For instance, several of the rooms include multiple bunk beds, hostel style. But the youthful bed arrangement is coupled with luxe mattresses, bedding, and high-end art installations.

The Dean

8.5 Excellent (1073 reviews)
Excellent Service 9.1 / 10
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Columbia University

Classes at Columbia University began in the summer of 1754. During that period, the school was known as “King’s College.” That name, however, soon came under intense scrutiny thanks in part to a student who was in the class of 1777. That student was Alexander Hamilton.

In 1776, classes were suspended at the school as the British seized New York and occupied the campus. In 1783, the campus was reclaimed by American rebels and the British were forced off the campus. After the revolution, the loyalist name was changed to the more patriotic “Columbia College.”

Former Columbia students include several founding fathers (Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Gouverneur Morris), three U.S. Presidents (Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, Barack Obama), 2 Supreme Court justices, Lou Gehrig, Georgia O’Keefe, Warren Buffett, and 39 Academy Award winners.

Where to Stay in Upper Manhattan

Distinctly Modern

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While Manhattan is not a neighborhood with a lack of lodging, hotels close to the campus are at a premium. One of the closest, recommended by the college itself, is the Aloft Harlem.

A short half mile in distance to campus, the Aloft Harlem gets bonus points for its proximity to famous Harlem landmarks such as the Apollo Theater. Aloft brand hotels have a distinctively modern aesthetic and the Harlem location is no exception.

Aloft Harlem

Top rated
New York, 7.5 miles to 911 Memorial
8.6 Excellent (1955 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9 / 10
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Boutique Hotel on Broadway

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A few miles south on Riverside Drive will take you toward another lodging option. NYLO, a boutique hotel on Broadway in the Upper West Side. This location, while farther from campus, will bring you closer to Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Central Park Zoo.

From the rooftop deck, you’ll have a great vantage point to look over Central Park and the Hudson River. The NYLO has three onsite restaurant/bar options featuring a variety of cuisines, from Chinese to Italian fare. NYLO says their LOCL bar is “inspired by speakeasies and Harlem music clubs of the 1920s.” After a long day of Ivy league-ing at Columbia, the LOCL’s nightcap “Streetcar Named Dessert” sounds like the perfect remedy.

Nylo

New York, 5.2 miles to 911 Memorial
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Cornell University

Nestled in the Finger Lakes region of New York, Cornell University’s landscape is one of the lushest of the Ivys. Nearby Cayuga Lake can be seen from parts of the campus, and two gorges are part of the central campus. Cornell owns a botanic garden that comprises nearly 3,000 acres situated next to the main campus.

Its alums include a whopping 58 Nobel laureates and 30 Rhodes scholars. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Christopher Reeve, Bill Nye, Pop Warner, E.B. White, Toni Morrison, Bill Maher, and Ann Coulter all hail from Cornell.

Where to Stay in Ithaca

Get Up-Close and Personal with Cornell

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The Statler Hotel is located in the middle of Cornell’s campus. It opened in 1950 to provide experiential learning as part of the school of hotel administration. At the Statler, Cornell students gain exposure and knowledge about the hospitality industry with real-life experience working in the fully operational campus hotel. Statler is the only hotel of its kind in the Ivy League.

You will get a true, up-close and personal Cornell experience at Statler, being enveloped by the academia and students that call Cornell home. Dine at Taverna Banfi, an on-site Italian restaurant, again staffed in part by students. The Regent lounge is also within the hotel, a great place to unwind at the end of a day of campus touring with a nice glass of red.

The Statler Hotel at Cornell University

Top rated
9.2 Excellent (1091 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.5 / 10
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Dartmouth College

Perhaps the most rural of the Ivy League 8, Dartmouth tends to attract nature lovers and those who favor outdoor sports. In fact, the school has its own ski mountain with 30 trails located about 20 minutes from the school. On weekends while in season, there are hourly buses from campus to the slopes. Hiking (the Appalachian Trail runs right through the town of Hanover), and kayaking or canoeing on the Connecticut River are all popular activities for Dartmouth students.

Notable Dartmouth alumni include two Supreme Court justices, one U.S. Vice President (Mike Pence), 170 members of Congress, 24 governors, 79 Rhodes scholars, 13 Pulitzer Prize winners, and three Nobel laureates.

Where to Stay in Hanover

In the Heart of Dartmouth

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Book a room at the historic Hanover Inn. Not only is this establishment the longest continually operated inn in New Hampshire (it was completed around the turn of the 20th century), the Inn is situated in the heart of the Dartmouth campus with undergrads studying on the nearby Dartmouth Green. After setting down your bags, take in a play or performance at the college’s Hopkins Center for the Performing Arts, conveniently located right next door to the inn.

After the show, head back to the hotel’s onsite farm-to-table restaurant, PINE. Seafood is always a smart pick in New England, so try the fresh oysters from the raw bar to start, followed by the Diver Scallops — scallop filled ravioli with local root vegetables, maple gastrique, and pistachios.

Hanover Inn Dartmouth

Top rated
9.3 Excellent (508 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.4 / 10
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Harvard University

Follow the crew boats across the Charles River from Boston and you’ll arrive at the famed “Haa-vad Yaad” (Harvard Yard) in perhaps the most idyllic of college towns anywhere in the States. Cambridge is reminiscent of a city time forgot with its worn brick sidewalks, a newsstand just outside the T (subway) station where you can almost hear a 10-year, knicker-wearing newsboy hawking the daily paper, and late 19th, early 20th-century architecture. Then there’s the campus with its stately trees, many of which dwarf the red brick buildings they conceal.

To discuss the rich and famous that have walked the hallowed halls at the acclaimed university is to recite a virtual “who’s who” of the top dogs in every American industry and vocation. Harvard alum includes an astonishing 8 U.S. Presidents, 20 Supreme Court Justices, 158 Nobel laureates, 359 Rhodes Scholars, and 48 Pulitzer Prize winners. Not to mention the 10 Academy Awards and over 100 Olympic medals earned by its alumni. And who can forget the five Harvard roommates who founded Facebook, or a certain tech giant who attended the college for two years before leaving and starting Microsoft?

Where to Stay in Cambridge

Bikes and Jazz

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You can’t beat the location of The Charles Hotel. The Charles sits right in the midst of the always interesting goings on around Harvard Square. Grab one of the hotel’s Electra bicycles and zip along the Charles River on the Dr. Paul Dudley White bike path. MIT is just three miles up the road (or even less if you take a more direct, but slightly less scenic route).

Take in some live jazz at the Regattabar, the hotel’s 225 seat jazz nightclub. Grab a drink and small bite at the hotel’s dark and moody cocktail bar, Noir. Order a “Midterm,” made with mezcal, grapefruit juice, and muddled jalepeño. This boozy concoction is bound to be a much more fun experience than the midterms being handed out across the Square.

The Charles Hotel in Harvard Square

Top rated
8.7 Excellent (2641 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.5 / 10
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University of Pennsylvania

Founded by the visionary Ben Franklin, the University of Pennsylvania boasts the first school of medicine on the continent, and the first business school. Notable Penn students include two U.S. Presidents, Elon Musk, Steve Wynn, 30 Nobel laureates, three Supreme Court Justices, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, Tory Burch, John Legend, eight signers of the Declaration of Independence, and nine signers of the Constitution.

Where to Stay in Philadelphia

A Philly Hub

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The Inn at Penn (by Hilton) is sandwiched a block between U. Penn’s Perelman Quadrangle and the Wharton School of Business. Besides its close proximity to campus, the hotel has two restaurants — one for breakfast (The University Club) and another (soon to open) in the lower lobby. The Living Room (lobby lounge) serves a full menu, including a classic Philadelphia cheesesteak.

The location of the Inn at Penn is a great hub for wider exploration of Philadelphia. The zoo, Philadelphia Museum of Art (think a 1980s sweatsuit-wearing Rocky Balboa punching the atop the stairs movie scene), the Liberty Bell, and Independence Hall are all within a 10-15 minute Uber or cab ride.

The Inn at Penn, a Hilton Hotel

Top rated
Philadelphia, 0.8 miles to 30th Street Station
9.0 Excellent (1924 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.3 / 10
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Princeton

Founded as “The College of New Jersey,” the school has changed both its location and its name since its beginnings in 1746. Enjoy exploring Princeton’s quintessential Ivy campus, but don’t get caught exiting the grounds through the FitzRandolph gate near Nassau Hall. Legend is that students who pass through these gates before graduation will not finish their degree (sure, you’re not a student, but no need to anger the Ivy gods).

Princeton alumni include two U.S. Presidents, one infamous Vice President (Aaron Burr), one first lady (Michelle Obama), four Supreme Court Justices, Jeff Bezos (Amazon), and actors Jimmy Stewart, David Duchovny, and model Brooke Shields. Writer F. Scott Fitzgerald was a student at Princeton but did not graduate. JFK also attended Princeton for two years before transferring and subsequently graduating from Harvard.

Where to Stay in Princeton

Dinner and Ghost Hunt

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You’ll want a reservation at the 157-room Nassau Inn, easily the closest accommodations to campus and right in the thick of the downtown Princeton happenings. Enjoy a meal at the hotel’s gastropub, the Yankee Doodle Tap Room. Their drink menu is full of seasonal options, like the apple cider sangria or spiced pumpkin hot cider in autumn. Or, try a Yankee Doodle Cocoa on a cold winter evening to warm up after a traipse around campus.

Feeling adventurous? Try the “dinner and ghost hunt” package. First, you’ll eat at the Inn (where countless notable personalities have dined before you, such as Albert Einstein and Andrew Carnegie). Following dinner, a certified ghost hunter will arrive and lead you on a paranormal adventure around campus, ending inside a locked cemetery in Palmer Square where you’ll see gravestones of famous icons of Princeton’s past.

Nassau Inn

Princeton, 0 miles to Palmer Square
8.2 Very good (631 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.4 / 10
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Yale University

Beyond asserting bragging rights as the home to one of the nation’s most elite universities, New Haven also lays claim to several other national treasures to boot like the hamburger and erector set. And although it’s a hotly debated topic, Yale students purport to have invented the Frisbee by flinging “Frisbie’s Pie” tins to each other on the town green.

Five former presidents graduated from Yale (Both Bushes, Bill Clinton, Gerald Ford, and William Taft). The highly-acclaimed Yale School of Drama has produced dozens of recognizable Hollywood celebrities, including Sigourney Weaver, Meryl Streep, Paul Newman, Oliver Stone
Robert Klein, Henry Winkler, and David Alan Grier. As if that’s not impressive enough, the Yale Law School has churned out 11 Supreme Court justices as well.

Where to Stay in New Haven

"A Birdseye View of the Yale Campus"

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Check into the Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale and head to lunch at John Davenport’s on the top level. Request a window seat where you’ll have a birdseye view of the Yale campus and the New Haven town green.

The Omni is situated one block from the Shubert Performing Arts Center (built in 1914) as well as the local cinema. Even better, it’s less than two blocks from Louis’ Lunch — the multi-generational-owned and operated lunch counter that is credited with the creation of the hamburger in the late 1800s.

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Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale

8.1 Very good (1873 reviews)
Excellent Location 9 / 10
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Feature image courtesy of Pixabay