Approachable and Elevated in Oxford's Historic SquareBy: The Local Palate
THE NEIGHBORHOOD: Two leafy blocks from Oxford’s historic square and cultural heart, the Graduate is also within walking distance (or a quick uber) of the town’s other big draws: the University of Mississippi campus and William Faulkner’s home, Rowan Oak.
THE VIBE: Relive your college days with cheeky touches like room keys that are phony school ID cards of famous Ole Miss alum, pennants as do-not-disturb signs, and actual students studying in the lobby—only with the creature comforts and stylish notes of a boutique hotel.
THE DIGS: Founded with a mission to connect guests to the community, the Graduate brand fills a niche in university towns, where lodging options can be limited. One of six (soon to be twelve) properties in the mini-chain, the 136-room hotel is millennial chic—you won’t find any bellhops, but the Wi-Fi is fast and free and guests are welcome to pluck a book from the shelves of vintage classics in the lobby. Rooms are designed with a nod to the dorm of yore—think cheery plaid blankets and trunks that double as nightstands. But not all is tongue-in–cheek, like the cool art—William Faulkner sketches hang in the bathrooms—and Malin & Goetz toiletries. Rebels fans, plan ahead: the hotel books up for the big game weekends within 24 hours once the football schedule is released.
DINING OPTIONS: Rather than compete with Oxford’s restaurant scene, the Graduate offers two options that wisely bookend it. In the morning, grab a coffee and a hangover breakfast sandwich (pulled pork, pepper jack mornay, a sunny-side egg, and chow chow on texas toast) at Cabin 82, a casual café off the lobby. And in the evenings, wind down with a nightcap at The Coop—they make a mean moscow mule—a rooftop bar with a killer view of the square. Go off campus for lunch and dinner.
A perfectly charred burrata and soppressata pizza at the cozy Saint Leo, one of the square’s newest restaurants, will hold you over till happy hour. Snackbar is a good walk from the hotel, but worth it for its Indian-meets-Southern nibbles: the Gujarati-spiced stewed black eye peas with fenugreek dumplings pair well with a French 75 or two. Dinner brings you back to the square, where City Grocery is an Oxford institution for a reason, like the Mississippi rabbit ragù with housemade pappardelle and pecan-parsley pesto.