When it comes to choosing a hotel, the vibe is just as important as the price. We checked out three Portland hotels in a similar price bracket that represent three different eras and are all great fun in very different ways.
Portland's White House
If you've ever wondered what you'd get if you crossed Scandal with Downton Abbey (and yes, TV execs, we would be so here for that) then a stay at Portland's White House might give your imagination a little boost. Didn't know that Portland even had a White House? Well, this stunning Greek Revival mansion in Portland's historic Irvington district, does bear a passing resemblance to its DC counterpart, but is a lot easier to visit, as it is now an exquisite bed and breakfast.
if you're looking for sumptuous comfort, friendly and personal service and deep peace and quiet, then this is the hotel for you. Located just a ten-minute cab ride out of downtown Portland on a tranquil residential street, the mansion, built in 1911, has been lovingly restored to its former Victorian glory by its present owners and is stuffed full of beautiful furniture, sparkly chandeliers and collections of antiques. Each bedroom is different and many feature four poster beds and rolltop baths, while the luxurious sitting room and dining room downstairs are also open to guests. We enjoyed the personal touches such as the plate of homemade cookies and truffles on arrival, while general manager Myra is a delight, as indeed are the rest of the staff.
In the morning, as we sat at the highly polished and beautifully decorated communal table, tucking into a wonderful breakfast of eggy bread pudding, berries and bacon, I felt like Downton's Lady Mary herself, though I did keep half an eye in case Olivia Pope came bursting through the double doors, demanding to see the President.
Although built at almost exactly the same time as the White House, the Benson , perfectly located downtown, has totally different aesthetic. Lumber baron and philanthropist Simon Benson wanted to create the most luxurious and modern hotel west of the Mississippi and spent over $1 million in 1913 bringing in Italian marble for the floors, French terracotta tiles for the ceilings and Russian hardwoods for the wood paneling. Over a century later, the décor is remarkably intact, and as you enter the stunning lobby, with its high ornate ceilings and sparkling chandeliers, it feels like you've stepped back in time to the easy relaxed glamour and elegance of the Jazz Age. The communal areas are simply magnificent. We loved sitting in the shockingly comfortable armchairs by the fire in the lobby and tucking into breakfast or sipping cocktails in the elegant Palm Court lounge. And you should ask to see the magnificent Crystal Balllroom, with its glorious ceiling and chandeliers.
Our room was spacious, with a huge bed and fabulous views over downtown and the service was super friendly and pleasant. The hotel is currently embarking on a remodeling program, which will see the rooms refurbished and the lobby gently refreshed, though The Benson's old time glamour, comfort and charm needs no updating and remains a powerful reminder of a bygone age of elegance, making it just the hotel for you if you want a big hotel experience with oodles of soul and charm in the heart of downtown.
Portland's Hotel Vintage (there's also one in Seattle) is about as contemporary as its possible to be, having reopened in April 2015 after a $16 million redesign. The wine-themed décor celebrating Oregon's Willamette Valley could so easily have been either kitsch or snobbish, but it masterfully avoids both in favor of arty and interesting with a touch of Portland bohemian. A blackened steel floating staircase spirals up through the stunning two-story atrium lobby past wine-themed art, light fixtures reminiscent of grape clusters, a huge wineology chalkboard and an enormous picture of Bacchus reclining by the bar. Every room is named after a different Oregon vineyard, and you can meet the winemakers themselves at the free evening wine tastings hosted in the lobby, before heading to the happening bar and games room (the Simon Says games on the tables are a fun touch).
Our room was gorgeous and deeply luxurious, furnished with beautiful contemporary furniture in wine reds and purples, while over 105,000 recycled corks were used to make one-of-kind art pieces in each of the rooms. The spa suites feature huge gloriously deep baths if you fancy a bit of alone time. The staff were friendly and super-helpful and the Italian-themed bar snacks and cocktails from the downstairs Bacchus Bar slipped down very easily.
Located close to the Benson in the heart of downtown, Hotel Vintage is for you if like a busy, buzzy, bustling vibe, with live bands in the bar at nights, and a funky bohemian, very Portland aesthetic with a side of sumptuousness and yes, lots of wine.