Portland, Oregon, is a budget traveler's dream destination. The city does not have a sales tax, and its extensive public transit system makes car rentals unnecessary. Visitors looking for deep hotel discounts can stay outside of Portland's center and still have access to the city. Listed prices were accurate as of December 2010.
Invoking Images of Hollywood
Portland's Hotel Deluxe, with its art deco decor, looks expensive but isn't. Photos of 1940s Hollywood films, arranged by cinematic themes, adorn the lobby and corridors. "Star Trek: The Next Generation" fans will appreciate the "Make It So" button on the guest room telephone. Nightly rates for standard rooms begin at $125. If you're in the mood for a romantic splurge, rates for the dramatic Marlene Dietrich Suite, with its eight-foot circular bed, begin at $233.
In the Theater District
In 1907, the Hotel Nortonia opened in the Portland Oregon theater district and became the home away from home for visiting artists, actors and dancers. The hotel was remodeled and renamed the Mark Spencer Hotel in 1966, but its affordable rates make it a favorite for artists, performers and budget-minded travelers. Nightly rates begin at $99, but when the hotel is not busy, the "Name Your Price" feature lets you submit an offer. Rates include continental breakfast and afternoon tea and cookies.
If you think you're too cool for school, you haven't stayed at McMenamin's Kennedy School Hotel. Kennedy Elementary School began its life as a neighborhood school in 1915. When school was not in session, the building served as a community meeting center, a Red Cross blood-drive location and a flood-relief shelter. Then, in 1975, declining enrollment in the local school district threatened Kennedy's continued existence. Mike and Brian McMenamin bought and renovated the building, and at 7 a.m. on a day in October 1997, they rang the original school bell to announce the opening of a brand-new hotel. The lodging venue appeals to anyone with an irreverent sense of humor. The original classroom blackboards remain in the guest rooms, but there's no need to raise your hand to go to the restroom, because all rooms have private baths. The hotel's Detention Bar is actually a cigar bar, the Honors Bar features cocktails and classical music, and the McMenamins converted the school's former boiler room into the Boiler Room Bar. In the courtyard is a ceramic-artwork soaking pool, and the hotel also has a movie theater which charges $3. Rates begin at $115.
Hip and Cheap
Trendy boutiques, restaurants and clubs populate the East Burnside neighborhood, Portland's burgeoning hipster district. This renovated motel turned boutique hotel boasts a post-modern comfort food and rock club, a tattoo parlor and a cutting-edge hair salon. While it's not the place they'd take their grandmothers, intrepid travelers in search of budget lodging in unexplored neighborhoods enjoy this lifestyle hotel. Nightly rates begin at $97.33.
The Benson Hotel, originally the Hotel Oregon, opened in 1913, but still stands proudly in the heart of Portland's Pearl Street District. A white marble staircase, crystal chandeliers, walnut paneling and ornate ceilings add old-world sophistication to an elegant hotel, whose staff enjoys talking about its history. The Benson Hotel offers rates starting at $116.10 for people over age 55, AARP members and AAA members. The hotel is just a few blocks from Powell's Books, and Penzeys Spices, a sort-of Powell's for cooks, is also nearby.