Cramped spaces, cinderblock walls, and low-grade lighting are the things first-year college students expect from their housing experiences. You won’t find any of that in the dorms on this list, however.
We’ve researched schools across the country using a number of resources — the Princeton Review, Collegeprowler.com, and official housing websites — to compile a list of the 10 dorms that provide the most unique living and learning experience.
From TempurPedic mattresses and private pools to special learning communities, these dorms have all the amenities you could ever want.
Nicknamed 'the Sponge' for its futuristic exterior, Simmons Hall has won multiple awards for its unique architectural design. Living here has plenty of perks, too. Lounges are equipped with 42' TVs, PS3s, and Rokus for streaming music or TV shows. The building also has its own dining hall, movie theatre, and laundry facilities on almost every floor.
And for fun there's a massive ball pit where students relieve stress by going to battle with each other.
The University of Chicago is known for having a tight-knit campus community. In a system that often draws comparison to Harry Potter's Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, 11 residence halls are home to 38 houses, each with their own traditions, personalities, and rivalries. Houses are usually made up of several floors of a particular residence hall, and freshmen are required to participate.
Pictured here is Max Palevsky Residential Commons, comprised of three buildings and eight houses. Freshmen who live here are assigned to four-person suites, each with a private bathroom. Each of the eight houses has its own lounge and unique traditions, including ski trips, broomball tournaments, and scavenger hunts.
At Pomona College's Oldenborg Center, you can immerse yourself in a foreign culture without going abroad.
While the school's dorms vary widely in style and size, the Oldenborg Center may be the most unique place to live on campus. Around 115 students apply to live in one of the center's six language sections, where residents immerse themselves in studying Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Russian, or Spanish. Native speakers guide foreign-language lunches in the center's dining hall, and scholars frequently come to give talks on international issues.
This sleek complex boasts some of the best views in the city, but StuVi 2 is much more than a pretty face. A variety of features make for truly sustainable living, including bamboo walls in common areas and CO2 sensors that control ventilation when necessary.
The North Tower features 89 four-person apartments and 20 two-person apartments, while the South Tower is made up of eight-person dormitory-style suites. Common areas include soundproof music practice rooms, 24-hour reading rooms, and a media lounge complete with a flatscreen TV.
There's a reason why The Boston Globe called it 'perhaps the most opulent residence hall to ever grace the local college landscape.'
Washington University in St. Louis has the South 40, a community of dorms with plenty of convenient food options.
Wash U. has a variety of luxurious accommodations, but the small-town atmosphere on the campus' South 40 area is really what sets it apart. All of the dorms, both the old and the new, are outfitted with TempurPedic mattresses, and the student-run Wash-U-Wash service will pick up your dirty laundry and deliver it, clean, to your door two days later.
Recent updates to the South 40 have included the addition of a market, bakery, kosher kitchen, and large gathering places in LEED-certified buildings.
The 35 houses of this women's college are the stuff of legend, consistently topping lists of the country's best dorms for years in a row. Accommodations vary widely, and first-year students could have anywhere from 10 to 100 housemates.
Dating all the way back to 1710, Sessions House is the oldest house on campus. Its staircase was originally built as a secret passageway, where during colonization the original occupants hid from Native Americans. It is also rumoured to have been a meet-up spot for a pair of star-crossed lovers from the Revolutionary War, whose ghosts are said to haunt the house to this day. The historic home and its neighbouring annex are now home to 52 women living in single and double-occupancy rooms.
Scripps College's Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Hall is a Mediterranean gem on a beautiful California campus.
Scripps College's dorms consistently rank high on best-dorms lists, and with good reason. With each dorm housing between 70 and 120 residents, they're tight-knit communities set on a beautiful southern California campus. Many of the Mediterranean-style buildings have balconies that overlook palm tree-shaded courtyards or wide grassy lawns.
Pictured here is Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Hall, which was completed in 2000 and is the campus' newest dorm. A second floor 'browsing room' features intricately carved wood panels that date back to 1915.
University of Michigan's North Quad combines academic and residential life in one high-tech complex.
The University of Michigan's North Quadrangle Residential and Academic Complex combines housing and learning services into one luxury, high-tech facility. Its 450 upperclass residents can live in single rooms or suite-style dorms complete with their own private bathrooms. State-of-the-art classrooms in the lower levels of the complex are home to the school's Communication Studies and Screen Arts departments.
North Quad's dining hall, whose internationally themed menu is so varied as to include lamb, burger crumble tacos, and even shark, won a gold award for presentation and menu from the National Association of College and University Food Services in 2011.
The Cuarto area at this sunny California public school includes three residence halls, two of which have on-site swimming pools and spas. Rooms in all three dorms are in a suite-style layout, with two to four bedrooms, a common living room, and one or two private bathrooms.
Pictured is Emerson Hall, home to 500 students who have the enviable luxury of being able to lounge by this pool in between classes. An additional courtyard on the opposite side of the property gives students plenty of space to study and relax.
The apartment-style dorms in Loyola University of Maryland's Newman Towers have fully-equipped kitchens.
With wall-to-wall carpeting, controllable heat and air conditioning, and plenty of space, even the freshmen dorms at the Loyola University of Maryland are nice. Still, the real luxury here are the apartment-style suites reserved for upperclassmen and some lucky freshmen. While some suites have walk-in closets and pantries, all come with their own huge living room, fully-equipped kitchen, and up to four bathrooms.
Seen here is Newman Towers, made up of apartment-style dorms with up to four bedrooms. Like the many other suite-style apartments at Loyola, kitchens in this building are complete with a stove, oven, and refrigerator. You can still eat when you don't feel like cooking, since the upscale convenience store on the ground floor has a different menu every day.
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