Generally when you think of a hotel getaway, your mind leaps to far flung destinations. But what about the gems in your own backyard? The chilly winter months are an ideal time to book a little staycation, especially if you’re a Boilermaker. Purdue fans, families and employees – I’m talking to you! This Union Club Hotel review will give you a peek inside, plus an honest opinion of the rooms, dining options, and service staff.
Did you know the Union Club Hotel was named Best Boutique Hotel of 2021 by Boutique Lifestyle Leaders Association? If you haven’t booked a stay, now is the time. Whether you live locally or are returning to Purdue for gameday or an alumni event, this elegantly renovated hotel offers the aura of big city sophistication with academic-inspired design touches you are sure to appreciate.
First, let’s talk location… The locals already know this, but you can’t beat the convenience of the Union Club Hotel. If you are doing anything on or around campus, the Union Club puts you right where you want to be.
Situated at 101 Grant Street in West Lafayette, it is adjacent to the Purdue Memorial Union and within walking distance to the Hall of Music, Ross-Ade Stadium and Mackey Arena. Here’s a helpful map of the area. Valet parking is available. Better yet, you can simply pull you car into the garage directly across from the hotel and pay upon exit. For the out-of-towners running a search for – “best hotels near Purdue University” – save yourself the trouble. There is nothing comparable.
As a Lafayette resident and Purdue employee, I’ve walked through the Union Club Hotel many times, but never considered staying there because my house is just 10 minutes away. Let me tell you – I’m so glad I gave it whirl! I left feeling rejuvenated and well-rested. Moreover, it was really fun to experience these spaces from a guest’s perspective. So much has changed since I stayed at this hotel during a job interview seven years ago. At the time, the hospitality was impeccable, but the facilities were little underwhelming. Now, this place is truly world class!
So, let’s talk about that $35 million renovation. When I first walked in, my jaw hit the floor. I felt like I was entering a boutique hotel in Chicago. Every corner, nook, table and bar area beckoned, urging me to sit and stay awhile. There are so many spaces where small groups (or individuals) can enjoy an intimate experience within the common areas. If you’re visiting West Lafayette on a business trip you won’t find a more pleasant place to set up your laptop and sip some coffee.
Disclosure: Thank you to the management team for graciously offering a complimentary stay to assist me in writing a complete and detailed Union Club Hotel review.
The 182-room hotel completed the massive overhaul in 2020, leaving everything from the rooms to the restaurants feeling fresh and modern while retaining its historic charm. Everywhere you look, you’ll find unique design elements that pay tribute to Purdue’s legacy. In fact, last year, the Union Club joined Marriott’s “Autograph Collection” – a distinctive listing of 200 independent hotels around the world with distinctive design and hospitality perspectives.
The Union Club Hotel first opened in 1929 as an addition to Purdue Memorial Union. It grew in phases, with a second wing added in 1939 and the five-story 130-room north wing added in 1955. The university conducted some renovations in the mid-1980s, but nothing quite as momentous as its recent refresh. Now, the hotel is not only a showpiece for greater Lafayette, but also a hands-on learning laboratory. Purdue has an acclaimed School of Hospitality and Tourism Management and many of its students hone their skills at the Union Club Hotel. It is the only Autograph Collection hotel across the globe that is student-run (details here).
And don’t think student-run means poor service… Quite the contrary! Union Club Hotel staff are incredibly attentive and detail oriented. In many ways, I felt like royalty during my stay here. If you had a question or needed a recommendation, the service team was happy to help.
The renovation brought with it several new dining concepts. Due to my job’s proximity to campus, I frequent all three (spoiler alert – they are amazing). I will give you the gist of each below, as well as my thoughts while visiting this time around. During the staycation, I had diner and brunch at 8Eleven Bistro, cocktails at Boiler Up Bar, and a coffee break at Leaps Coffee & Artisan Pastries.
8Eleven is the place for a special evening out. Have an anniversary, birthday or other milestone moment coming up? This modern bistro is considered the culinary anchor of the Union Club Hotel. When Purdue is trying to woo job candidates, search committees generally take them here because it never disappoints. Not only is it popular on campus, but it is also consistently ranked as one of the Lafayette region’s top restaurants.
Personally, I prefer this as a dinner spot versus brunch because it allows you an opportunity to fully take in the romantic atmosphere. The staff lowers the house lights at night to maximize the cozy ambiance (P.S – To up the ante on ambiance you can even dine in an igloo during the winter). I just love watching the glow from the open kitchen as the chef prepares your food!
In terms of the menu options, I’ve tried several things and highly recommend the Burrata Cheese as a starter, 8Eleven Wedge for a salad and Ora King Salmon as a main course. However, the great thing about 8Eleven is its broad appeal. There is something for everyone – from burger lovers to consummate foodies. The crab croquettes pictured below are also delicious!
This brings us to Boiler Up Bar. One of the most fun experiences of my staycation, was a simple one. Hanging out with some gal pals and catching up over delicious craft cocktails. As a busy mom with a 5-year-old at home, that’s a pretty rare experience and one I highly recommend. Boiler Up Bar features a rotating selection of farm-inspired cocktails, as well as local craft beer, wines by the glass, and small-batch bourbons and whiskeys. It’s all delicious, but I am partial to the mules. They have such a refreshing fizz!
No Union Club Hotel review would be complete without a discussion of the coffee options. I don’t know about you, but when I stay at a hotel – coffee is an essential. I like to find hotels within walking distance of a quaint coffee shop. The Union Club Hotel one-ups that… Here – You just take the elevator and craft coffee is within arms reach! That said, Leaps offers more than coffee. It is also a pastry counter with delicious treats made in-house! Be sure to try the Honey Butter Cinnamon Rolls or Morning Glory Muffins. You can also nab fresh-squeezed juices or an all-natural smoothie.
Of course, we can’t forget what may be the most essential part of your stay – the room itself! Whether you’re looking for a pillow-fight filled, family-friendly getaway… or an escape from mom-life with a bed all to yourself (admittedly that sounds pretty appealing), the Union Club Hotel has a room configuration that will work for those purposes.
During my staycation, we were in one of the 1 bedroom suites. It had a connecting bedroom (king bed) and separate living area with a wet bar and sleeper sofa. I can envision this being the perfect space for people coming into town with a group of pals for game day. The bed was beyond cozy; I had such a good night’s sleep. Also, the bathrooms were gorgeous. For some reason, I always pay special attention to hotel bathrooms in boutique hotels. Typically, they have unique design features I want to take home with me. This was no exception.
Room options range from standard (king bed and all of the essentials) to the Bay Suite (a truly luxe experience with space for 4 people, a dining table and original bay windows overlooking Grant Street). If you visit Marriott’s website, current rates range from $205 per night for the Standard Suite to $499 for the Bay Suite.
Customer Union Club Hotel reviews are quite positive on Marriott’s site – 4.7/5. Those who didn’t offer a 5 star rating generally did so based on price, noting that it is a bit expensive. On Google it has a 4.4/5 star review based upon 558 reviews.
Please comment below. Now, if you’ll indulge me… I know you’ve had enough room photos, but these last few were too cute not to share. I think you can see the joy on our faces – I want that for you too!
We had a lovely time at the Union Club Hotel and I have a sneaking suspicion you will too. If you have any questions about the experience or need recommendations about the West Lafayette/Lafayette area, we’ve been here for seven years now, so we consider ourselves locals now.