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The more you travel to big destinations and famous cities, the harder it gets to appreciate them. You can’t really hate on world-class chefs and major league sports, but after you’ve lugged your suitcase up enough subway stairs and drained your bank account on $18 cocktails, you start thinking that small towns might have just as much to offer. And, for short stays, many of them do.
In 2009, the self-described ‘serial entrepreneur’ Angela Harrington arrived in Grinnell, Iowa, wanting to reinvent herself. After the economic crash the previous year, the Denver native moved to Grinnell and accepted a position with the city’s Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau. However, her first marching orders from the board required tapping into her entrepreneur past and would result in one of her, and Grinnell’s, proudest accomplishments.
If the summer got away from you before your family could get away, don't think it's too late to channel those vacation vibes. Finally, you have permission to be a tourist in (or near) your own town.
The hotel lives up to its claim of being “Upscale in style. Laid back in spirit.” The schoolhouse theme is ever-so-subtle, starting with a “Hall Pass” keycard holder, blackboard and red apple in every room.
Often traveled, not always fully appreciated, the Iowa leg of Interstate 80 might not stand out as one of the most exciting moments of a cross-country road trip, but that's only if you don't know where to stop.
Located about 50 miles east of Des Moines, Grinnell is a pleasant little community of fewer than 10,000 people about 10 miles off of I-80. That population gets a small boost from the 1500 students at Grinnell College, a private liberal arts school.
Adolescence doesn’t usually factor into hospitality projects. But for Iowa’s Hotel Grinnell, Perkins + Will transformed a former junior high into a unique hotel that pays homage to the site’s history.
Angela Harrington received Iowa Rural Development Council's Impact on Place honor for her work developing Hotel Grinnell, a converted 97-year-old junior high school in the city, according to a release.
Hotel Grinnell, Grinnell, Iowa: Inside a revamped 1921 junior high school are 52 rooms and suites designed for couples (with heated tubs for two) to groups (10-bed bunk rooms). Room keys look like a hall pass. Accommodations, which used to be classrooms, are furnished with original art and iron beds made locally.
As you walk through the halls and staircases of Hotel Grinnell, you might suddenly get the urge that you’re running late for class. But don’t worry, you won’t be docked any points for waking up late here. The building actually served as the town’s junior high school from 1921 until 1978. In 1978, the school sold it to the city.