The Colleges With the Best Dorms

College students relaxing in dorm
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For many of us, the words "college dorm" conjure up images of cramped bedrooms, moldy showers, and tight quarters. For generations, dorm rooms have been small and spare, the expectation being that busy students spend little time in their rooms and thus require only the bare necessities.

But the world, it is a-changing. Universities are working harder than ever to attract prospective students to their campuses. One of their main strategies is to spruce up on-campus accommodations and entice students with the promise of resort-style living. With their spacious bedrooms, fully-stocked kitchens, and abundant amenities, these deluxe dorms make college life feel luxurious. 

Massachusetts Institute of Technology - Simmons Hall

Two students approaching Simmons Hall dorm, MIT
(Aleksandr Zykov/Flickr/CC BY 2.0)

MIT is home to Simmons Hall, the beloved freshman dorm that offers beautiful views of Cambridge, a two-story movie theater, and a ball pit designed to provide stress relief. You'll find student lounges around nearly every corner in this undeniably quirky, architecturally unique building. Common areas are equipped with state-of-the-art TVs and gaming systems, and the in-house dining hall and late night café come in handy for students pulling those occasional all-nighters. 62% of Simmons residents live in single rooms, so students can enjoy their privacy while still staying connected to the spirited Simmons community.

University of Cincinnati - Morgens Hall

Dorm room window overlooking campus
University of Cincinnati Housing

The University of Cincinnati's recently renovated Morgens Hall boasts floor-to-ceiling views and luxury apartment-style living. These 2-person, 3-person, and 8-person rooms feature full kitchens (yes, that means a built-in oven and a full-size refrigerator), huge closets, and plenty of storage space. Ready for a splurge? The penthouse apartment includes a private deck and a stunning skylight. The entire building is chock-full of neat tricks, too, from windows that darken with the touch of a button to eco-friendly heating and cooling technology. 

Pomona College - Dialynas & Sontag Halls

Pomona College residence hall
J&M Concrete Contractors

Small liberal arts school Pomona College boasts not one but two of the best college dorms. Dialynas Hall and Sontag Hall, both constructed in 2011, garnered national acclaim for their energy efficient design and are beloved by students for their modern look and impressive amenities. Students live in suite-style rooms in arrangements of three to six bedrooms. There's a drop-down movie screen, a rooftop garden and playing field for pick-up games and tanning sessions, and several full kitchens. Students can learn more about their dorm's sustainable design by spending time in the in-house eco-classrooms.

University of Virginia - The Lawn

The Lawn exterior, University of Virginia
Karen Blaha/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0

Unlike other popular college dorms, a room in The Lawn at the University of Virginia does not come with luxury amenities. However, being selected to live in The Lawn is a competitive process, and the 54 chosen undergraduates consider it an immense privilege. The Lawn is part of the Academical Villages, the original collection of campus buildings designed by Thomas Jefferson, and its dorm rooms are steeped in history and tradition. Most dorm rooms have a working fireplace, and every resident of The Lawn receives a rocking chair, which most place on their front stoop as a welcoming gesture. Members of the Lawn community have opportunities to meet visiting scholars and are expected to serve as campus leaders. Despite the lack of air conditioning, the Lawn may well be the most prestigious student accommodation on this list.

University of California Davis - Cuarto Area

UC Davis Cuarto Area exterior

Residents of the Cuarto Area at UC Davis enjoy access to swimming pools, spas, and a full-service dining room only a few steps away from their bedrooms. The Cuarto Area is comprised of three separate dorm buildings – Emerson, Thoreau, and Webster – each of which has its own beautifully landscaped courtyard. Cuarto is the furthest from central campus of the three freshman housing options at UC Davis (yes, that's right, this is freshman housing) but it makes up for the mild inconvenience with an on-site snack and convenience store. In other words, you won't hear anyone complaining on move-in day.

Illinois Institute of Technology - State Street Village

Exterior of State Street Village, Illinois Institute of Technology
Duncanr/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.5

For students seeking total immersion in Chicago city life, State Street Village at the Illinois Institute of Technology is the place to be. Designed by acclaimed architect Helmut Jahn, State Street Village fits in perfectly with Chicago's famous skyline, and residents can't help but feel like bonafide urbanites when the L train roars right past their bedroom windows. Each room comes with an unparalleled view of the aforementioned skyline, and the room configurations are diverse enough that every resident can live comfortably, whether they prefer a single bedroom or suite-style living.

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Valdes, Olivia. "The Colleges With the Best Dorms." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, Valdes, Olivia. (2021, February 16). The Colleges With the Best Dorms. Retrieved from Valdes, Olivia. "The Colleges With the Best Dorms." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 29, 2023).