Once a junior high school, Hotel Grinnell is a chic and modern luxury hotel that has earned an A+ in our grade book. Located just an hour’s drive east of Des Moines, Iowa, Hotel Grinnell melds its literal old school history with innovative designs and amenities for today’s contemporary traveler.

Hotel Grinnell Iowa desk and blackboard

Each room comes with a desk, blackboard, and chalk. The hotel encourages guests to use them.

A visit to the principal’s office

We had the pleasure of being hosted for a complimentary night by Hotel Grinnell. We met owner/operator Angela Harrington in the lobby when we arrived for our tour and stay. The former principal’s office was our first stop. Having been a principal himself, Steve found this bright and cheerful room a far cry from the stressful space where he spent his days reviewing school budgets and disciplining ill-behaved middle schoolers.

Once the principal's office, this guest room is now chic and modern.

Once the principal’s office, this guest room is now a chic and modern retreat. We just loved the locker room bench at the end of the bed.

Featuring a king-sized bed with a modern steel frame the former principal’s office is now a luxurious place to relax and unwind. Harrington salvaged the maple floors throughout the hotel and, while refinished, they still show signs of students’ foot traffic and scratches from moving desks.

Hotel Grinnell Iowa hallway

Wide hallways that once held slamming locker doors and excited tweens are now calm, serene places to sit and relax.

Old school theme

We made our way down the long, wide hallways visiting several of the 45 guest rooms. Harrington shared the history of the building and her dream of making it a hotel. She moved to Grinnell in 2009 to lead the city’s Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center. When she arrived, she made her first objective to attract a hotel and event center to town. With this project, she made it happen, while preserving the history of this iconic building.

Hotel Grinnell Iowa bunk room

Each of the former locker rooms has been turned into a bunk room that sleeps 10. They are great for travel sports teams or a a fun retreat for birthday slumber parties and bachelorettes.

There are nods to the building’s school history throughout. Guests receive room keys in a “hall pass” sleeve and neck ties serve as do not disturb signals on the doors.

Hotel guests are given their room keys in a "hall pass" sleeve as a nod to the building's history as a school.

Hotel guests are given their room keys in a “hall pass” sleeve as a nod to the building’s history as a school.

The Periodic Table at Hotel Grinnell

A space appropriately named The Periodic Table serves as the hotel’s bar and small plates eatery.

Hotel Grinnell Iowa Periodic Table

The Periodic Table is a comfortable place to sit, relax, and unwind.

Hotel Grinnell Iowa breakfast area

The breakfast area of the Periodic Table in the Hotel Grinnell.

The on-site bar is a far cry from what once was the cafeteria. The Periodic Table now offers a full bar and unique, handcrafted cocktails like a “Kinetic Energy” and “Spontaneous Combustion.”

Hotel Grinnell Iowa games

A large Scrabble board is just one of the fun games available in the lounge area of The Periodic Table.

Indoor seating and lounge space abound. Guests and the public also have access to an outdoor patio space featuring a small stage for live music and fire pits.

History of Hotel Grinnell

Built in 1921, the building served as a public school until the 70s when it was closed and gifted to the City of Grinnell. For years, it housed city offices but much of the building was underutilized. In 2012, Harrington had the idea of purchasing the old school and turning it into a luxury hotel. It took her five years to secure funding and architectural plans but once she did, it took only 11 months to renovate.

Hotel Grinnell Iowa Penthouse Suite seating area

The seating area in the Penthouse Suite is sleek, modern, and comfortable.

Hotel Grinnell opened in September 2017 and has quickly become a popular destination hotel. It has also attracted dozens of brides, grooms, and wedding parties. Its sexy and sophisticated penthouse suite has a private dressing room and salon that is perfect for the big day.

Hotel Grinnell Iowa Penthouse Suite

Inside the sexy and sophisticated penthouse suite at Hotel Grinnell. The room features a canopy bed and an oversized bath with a heated soaking tub for two.

Gymnasium now a ball room

A step inside the former gymnasium that now serves as a ballroom brought back memories of junior high school for me. I could easily envision my classmates and me lifting parachute or gliding across the glossy wooden floor on scooters.

Hotel Grinnell Iowa ballroom

The hotel’s ballroom is in the former gym.

The old school’s auditorium got a facelift as well. It now sports new, black seating and a center aisle which make it a perfect place for a conference speaker, concert, or wedding.

Eco-friendly and lots of amenities

We should also note that Harrington thoughtfully designed guest rooms and public spaces to be comfortable and eco-friendly. Fresh air is piped into rooms continuously from the outdoors and beds are dressed with Egyptian Cotton luxury sheets from Parachute.

Our room at Hotel Grinnell used to be the junior high school library. We loved the huge window and comfortable bed.

Our room at Hotel Grinnell used to be part of the junior high school library. We loved the huge window and comfortable bed.

Hotel Grinnell has taken care of little details to make your stay special. They provide handy charging stations on each bedside table and counter-high desks that can be used for work or dinner. They also have bicycles available to tool around town.

The folks at Hotel Grinnell thought of everything when it comes to amenities and cleverly display them in a "primer" notebook.

The folks at Hotel Grinnell thought of everything when it comes to amenities and cleverly display them in a “primer” notebook.

The wide array of art that adorns the walls also impressed us. Harrington told us that there nearly 300 pieces of art displayed in the hotel and no two are the same.

Angela Harrington tells Steve about the unique art she selected for each room.

Angela Harrington tells Steve about the unique art she selected for each room.

As travel writers, we spend dozens of nights in hotel rooms each year and Hotel Grinnell has certainly been one of our favorites. In addition to the uniqueness of the building and luxurious guest rooms, the staff at Hotel Grinnell are at the top of their class. With hearts like teachers and friendly smiles, they take great care of their guests and are a big reason Hotel Grinnell earned an A+ in our grade book.


PIN FOR LATER

Hotel Grinnell in Iowa


While our one-night stay at Hotel Grinnell was complimentary and we were compensated for this post, the opinions are our own. To book your stay at Hotel Grinnell, CLICK HERE or call 641.236.9250

  • Last week, we had the pleasure of making handmade pasta (via the internet) with our friends, Deb and Massi, who were in their home kitchen in Italy. ⁣
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You can read all about it, and get the recipe, on our blog. Yep, you guessed it, the link is in our bio. ⁣
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We met Deb and Massi of @italyunfiltered a few years ago when they created an amazing food and wine itinerary for us. We've remained friends and it was so good to see them, even if they were a world away.
  • We were supposed to be in Rochester, Minnesota, this week for Ann to see a cardiac sarcoidosis specialist about some recent issues with her heart. Of course, we did not travel to Rochester for her scans and doctor visits because of the coronavirus outbreak.⁣
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Instead, her cardiologists called her from their homes and her scans and tests will likely be delayed until June or July. We'll keep in close touch with them if anything changes, as well. We are so grateful for all of the healthcare professionals who are continuing to work crazy hours from home as well as in our hospitals around the world.⁣
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This is such an unprecedented and stressful time for all of them. Words will never be enough to convey our gratitude for the roles they are playing in the battle against this deadly virus while caring for those with other diseases and illnesses at the same time. ⁣
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Every healthcare provider we've talked with in the last two weeks has had the same message for those of us who don't have to go to work at a hospital. ⁣
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Just. Stay. Home.
  • Yesterday was Day 16 of social isolation for us. Because of Ann's underlying heart condition and suppressed immune system, we've cooked all our meals at home (no takeout). We've starting to get more and more creative as time has gone by. ⁣
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Last night, we made chicken and shrimp vindaloo and learned online how to make homemade naan.⁣
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It wan't as good as our favorite Indian restaurant, The Oven, but it did satisfy the craving we've had for Indian food. ⁣
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What are you craving these days?
  • We moved our living room furniture around this week and put two swivel chairs near the sliding glass door. Each day, we take time to turn around, rest our minds, enjoy in the view, and just be. #webelieveinhome
  • Our daughter, Meghan, is a cardiac ICU nurse. Despite all of the current uncertainties in healthcare during this pandemic, early this morning she put on her scrubs and went to work a 12+ hour shift. 
She is not alone. Across the country and around the world, healthcare workers are putting the safety of themselves and their families at risk to help others. It's what they do. Every. Single. Day. 
We are incredibly grateful that there are selfless people like this in the world and we pray for them and we hope you'll join us. 
We couldn't sleep this morning, so we wrote instead. Click on the link in our bio to read our morning thoughts and prayers.
  • Trying to decide where we’ll travel this weekend. Covered porch? Living room? 😉
  • We are staying home. 
We've been here for almost a week now because Ann is one of "those people." You know the ones. Those people with an underlying health issue. Those people with a suppressed immune system. One of those people who could become seriously ill, need hospitalization, and even die if exposed to the coronavirus.  Those people need your help to stay safe and live. And all you have to do is stay home when you don’t NEED to be out.

Over the past few days, we’ve seen photos, videos, and witnessed first hand people of all ages (but mostly young people) gathering in groups for what us mid lifers would consider “non essential” reasons: birthday parties, movies, youth sports practices, St. Patty’s Day celebrations at the bar, spring break at the beach, and the like. 
We don’t understand it. 
We try not to judge. 
But just for a time during this worldwide pandemic, could we ask people who are participating in non-essential activities to consider who “those people” most at risk really are?

Those people are already battling serious illnesses.

Those people want to see their grandchildren grow up.

Those people need to do their jobs as nurses and doctors.

Those people are first responders. 
Those people run the grocery store, and the pharmacy, and the gas station. 
Those people pray for you and your generation. 
And what about those other people? 
The ones you know.

Those people who made sacrifices to meet your needs.

Those people who took care of you when you were sick.

Those people who went to your games and cheered you on. 
Those people who taught you in school.

Those people who helped you pay for college.

Those people who cooked your favorite dish for you.

Those people who taught your Sunday School class.

Those people who have forgiven you.

Those people who will always love you unconditionally.

We keep wanting to scream, “It’s not about you, it’s about those people!” But the truth of the matter is, IT IS ABOUT YOU. 
You have the power to help.
You have the power to influence others.
You have the power to flatten the curve.

And by not changing your behaviors, you also have the power to harm. 
How will you choose to use your power?j
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