Part of the fun of visiting different cities is avoiding cookie-cutter creations and staying in places that reflect the region’s character. Fortunately, Portland’s lodging scene includes a fun, funky and fancy selection — from quirky to classic, in a variety of price ranges. They feature impressive collections of local and national art, memorable cuisine, and proximity to theaters, museums and river recreation.
The Ace Hotel (503-228-2277 www.acehotel.com/portland), located on the corner of SW Stark and 10th, is in Portland’s West End, next to the popular, eclectic Pearl District and famous Powell’s City of Books. The Ace’s lobby is a casual hangout for those who want to slouch on the couch and finish sipping their cup of fresh-brewed from neighboring Stumptown Coffee. The hotel has one creaky, slow elevator that you’re not encouraged to take, because the stairs are faster – something to keep in mind.
Years ago, the building was a flophouse, which has been transformed into an immaculately clean-but-casual hotel. Guests can choose between brighter-but-noisier street views, or darker and quieter rooms. It’s a definite consideration, since sounds from the lively neighborhood have been known to keep rocking into the wee hours.
The rooms have the building’s original woodwork and tile, and local artists have unleashed their talents on the walls themselves, or have their art installed throughout. Some rooms have claw foot tubs, army canvas door coverings and turntables – with instructions on how to USE them! They get plenty of families and visitors in all age ranges.
Off of the lobby is the Clyde Common restaurant (503-228-3333 www.clydecommon.com), with an expansive cocktail menu and communal-style seating, serving organic, rustic American cuisine.
The recipe for creating the Modera was straightforward: they gutted an old Day’s Inn, kept its modern lines and refurbished it with luxury amenities and local art. A stunning portrait dominates the lobby, Venus in Wax by Tyler Marchus, which rises over embracing chairs modeled after Italian handbags. Along the Modera’s hallways are soothing infrared photos of natural settings, and in each room is a faux fur bed covering and an original nude charcoal. The engaging room colors are louder than any sounds from outside as the well-insulated windows keep street noises at bay. Valet parking onsite resolves another headache.
The outdoor patio is dwarfed by a large, vertically planted garden wall. Visitors can relax around the fire pits and enjoy wine tasting Monday through Saturday, and the hotel’s restaurant, Nel Centro is a popular spot. Another terrific, upscale dining choice is Higgins (503-222-9070), located at SW Broadway and Jefferson. It has French bistro-style offerings using Northwest ingredients.
A stunning and popular lodging choice is the Lucia (503-225-1717), located on Southwest Broadway and Stark. I was wowed by its lobby’s collection of art, its friendly staff and the cozy library, where I found a warm fire and a guest knitting.
Throughout the hotel is a vast collection of David Hume Kennerly’s photos of the Kennedy family and other world leaders, such as Leonid Brezhnev and … Sienfeld’s Kramer. In the relaxing, elegantly furnished rooms guests can choose different pillows or even select from a spiritual menu, where the staff can provide two versions of the Bible, Torah, Koran, Buddhist, Mormon, Tao, Scientology, or you can just watch the telly.
Just a few blocks away is the Hotel Lucia’s sister property, the Hotel deLuxe (503.219.2094), which takes the shimmering elegance of Hollywood’s golden era and runs with it. In this rainy city, the Hotel deLuxe brightens the mood with light, alligator-textured hallway wallpaper, and buttery yellows and lime sherbet-colored rooms.
Each floor has a classic film theme: The Rebels (adorned with photos of Ford, Wells, Kazan), the Immigrants (Wyler, Preminger and Lang) and others. In the lobby is Gracie’s restaurant, as well as the Driftwood Bar in case you don’t feel like venturing out.
Located at 729 Southwest 15th Avenue, Hotel deLuxe is a few blocks off of Broadway, but Portland’s public transit makes it easy to enjoy local foods, festivals and fun.
A decidedly upscale hotel selection is The Nines (877-229-9995), located kitty corner from Portland’s living room: Pioneer Courthouse Square. Located at 525 Southwest Morrison and 5th Avenue, The Nines has a wealth of meeting and celebration space (13,000 square feet), a roomy and well-kept fitness center and a world-class, 419-piece art collection. Its 331 guest rooms receive twice-daily maid service and all the amenities one would expect from a luxury hotel.
Urban Farmer, the restaurant in its lobby, is dedicated to local farm-to-table fare. The bar menu spreads its wings pretty far, featuring an absinthe menu, moonshine and a large selection of barrel-aged whiskey. It also has a very popular, Asian-cuisine rooftop restaurant, Departure.
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