College game days, freshman move-in weekends, homecoming week, and graduations are notoriously challenging times to find accommodations in university towns—most hotels and vacation rentals get maxed out months in advance. But a new short-term rental program is hoping to make it slightly easier to find lodging—in two cities, at least.
Graduate Hotels, a chain known for its art-forward hotels near major college campuses, recently launched Graduate Homes, a short-term rental program with the goal of adding accommodation inventory during busy periods in the university calendar.
“The short-term rental market has exploded in the last few years, and as a hotel brand that is rooted in university communities, we felt this was a natural next step for our brand,” said Kevin Osterhaus, Graduate Hotels president, in a press release.
For now, Graduate brand home rentals are only available in 2 of its 30 U.S. markets (Oxford, Mississippi, and Ann Arbor, Michigan), although if all goes well, the brand said it will look into expanding into other cities. For the initial rollout, Graduate Homes is operating nine homes near the University of Mississippi (ranging from three beds, three baths to five beds, four baths) and two near the University of Michigan (a four bed, two bath, and a five bed, six bath).
Guests will also have access to typical hotel amenities, like a dedicated concierge (who can do everything from prestock the fridge to plan tailgating experiences), complimentary bike rentals, a shuttle service, access to pools and fitness centers, and discounts at the nearby Graduate Hotel’s bars and restaurants.
Graduate Homes has also partnered with experiential app Way to offer in-home experiences like yoga classes and chocolate tastings.
How does Graduate Homes differ from Airbnb or Vrbo?
For renters, the most significant differences are quality and size. Graduate Homes only allows listings that it deems “premium” (would-be hosts need to apply to be considered) and include at least three bedrooms, full kitchens, living rooms, and laundry areas.
Rates for the various listings run from $500 to $3,000 depending on the house and market—those figures don’t include taxes, but there are no additional fees, like cleaning or administrative costs.
The bigger difference is for the host. Unlike Airbnb, Graduate Homes handles all guest communication, arranges post stay house cleaning, and provides essential amenities like glassware and towels.
Bookings (as well as host applications) are now open and can be made at graduatehomes.com.