- Pomona College/Facebook
Cramped spaces, cinderblock walls, and low-grade lighting are the things college students typically 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 to compile a list of the 11 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.
Scripps College topped Princeton Review’s list of the schools with the best dorms this year.
- Scripps College/Facebook
Scripps College’s seven residence halls 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.
On the second floor of the Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Hall is the “browsing room,” which features intricately carved wood panels that date back to 1915.
Washington University in St. Louis has the South Forty, a community of dorms with plenty of convenient food options.
- James Byard / WUSTL Photos
Coming in at number two on this year’s Princeton Review’s list of the best college dorms is Wash U, which has a variety of luxurious accommodations inside the small-town atmosphere on the campus’ South Forty area.
All 23 residence halls, 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, clean it, and deliver it to your door two days later.
Perks of living in the South Forty include easy access to a food market, a bakery, a kosher kitchen, on-sight peer counselors, and large gathering places in LEED-certified buildings.
One community at Arizona State University provides 1,600 residents with an Amazon Echo Dot.
- ASU Now/Vimeo
Inside Arizona State University’s newest residence – the Fulton Schools Residential Community at Tooker House, which opens this fall – are 1,600 Echo Dots, all donated by Amazon.
The house, which was built specifically for first-year engineering students, will encourage residents to experiment with the technology, as well as enroll in classes that teach voice user interface development.
The house is also equipped with eSpace classrooms where students can enroll in an Introduction to Engineering course, among others.
MIT’s Simmons Hall has a giant ball pit where students can relieve stress.
- MIT Division of Student Life
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. There’s a a two-story movie theater, a crafts room, and a woodshop. The building also has its own dining hall 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.
University of Chicago’s House system is a nurturing community for first-years.
- Courtesy of the University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is known for having a tight-knit campus community. In a system that has drawn comparison to Harry Potter’s Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, seven 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 karaoke nights, broomball tournaments, and scavenger hunts.
At Pomona College, you can immerse yourself in a foreign culture without going abroad.
- Pomona College/Facebook
While the school’s dorms vary widely in style and size, Pomona College’s 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.
Two dorms in UC Davis’ Cuarto Area have private pools.
- Courtesy of UC Davis
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.
Boston University’s Student Village has one of the swankiest dorms around.
- Vernon Doucette for Boston University Photography
33 Harry Agganis Way has stunning views of Boston, along with a variety of features that make for truly sustainable living – this includes 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.
There’s a reason why The Boston Globe called it “perhaps the most opulent residence hall to ever grace the local college landscape.”
Smith College’s Sessions House has centuries of tradition.
The 35 houses of this women’s college are the stuff of legend – routinely praised by The Princeton Review, 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 rumored 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 neighboring annex are now home to 52 women living in single and double-occupancy rooms.
University of Michigan’s North Quad combines academic and residential life in one high-tech complex.
- Scott C. Soderberg / University of Michigan photography
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.
As for the food options, the Central Campus Dining at South Quad facility won a Gold Award presented by The National Association of College and University Food Services in 2015. There’s market-style service provided, as well as 10 micro-restaurants in the South Quad.
The apartment-style dorms in Loyola University of Maryland’s Newman Towers have fully equipped kitchens.
- Loyola University Maryland
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.
The Newman Towers is 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.