Portland Downtown Lodging

by Mary Schultz

Portland, Oregon has a multi-faceted cachet in a single hue -- green. The city is home to culinary experimentation, alternative music, a vibrant arts scene, expansive micro-brewing, deliberate urban planning, historical preservation and an environmentalism that includes recycling, re-purposing and re-using. Visitors can stay in a selection of downtown hotels, each of which reflects Portland’s artistic, environmentally responsible personality in its own way. From each, visitors can board Portland’s mass transit system for explorations outside the city center or walk to parks, shopping, dining and night life without ever leaving downtown.

Warhol Classics on Display

Portland makes art accessible, and the Portland downtown Heathman Hotel follows that tradition. The hotel, attached to the city’s concert hall, features Art Deco design in a classic Italianate setting. A collection of Andy Warhol lithographs of endangered species with a value of about $2.5 dollars is on display, with pieces on each of the floors. One room is inspired entirely by Warhol art. The hotel has 117 rooms and 33 suites. Standard rooms are relatively small with a design sense that blends contemporary and quaint. The largest rooms with king beds are the room numbers that end with -18 and -06. The hotel restaurant is called “one of the city's best” by Travel + Leisure.

Eco-Friendly Honors

Portland re-purposes, and the Courtyard by Marriott Portland City Center is an example. Conceived in the green marketplace ethos of Portland, this hotel is an eco-friendly renovation of a disco-era bank building that was completed as a Marriott property in 2009. The property has been awarded the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Its 256 guestrooms and suites feature one of a series of eight photo murals of quirky, playful and sometimes even edgy iconic Portland images. Every guestroom includes original ceramic art and hand painted canvases that showcase local Portland artists. The on-site restaurant is The Original.

On the Gold List

Portland, a city of just over a half million people, is relatively small, diverse and rich in creative expression. Its downtown Hotel Lucia follows suit. The photography of Pulitzer Prize winner David Hume Kennerly in its public spaces provides a signature for the intimate and stylish Hotel Lucia. The hotel has 127 rooms and suites, and the guestrooms for the most part are slightly small. The simple solution is to upgrade to a King Superior. The room accommodations live up to the luxury boutique hotel model, with textures and tones to unfetter the mind in contrast to tech-savvy docking stations, and organic coffee to stimulate. Downtown Pearl District restaurants and shops are just outside. The hotel’s adjacent Thai restaurant, Typhoon, has Chef Bo Kline at the helm, and guests can order room service on a 24-hour whim. Hotel Lucia has been named among the top 500 hotels in the world 2010 by Travel + Leisure and appeared in a directory of the world's best hotels and resorts, the Condé Nast Traveler Gold List, in both 2008 and 2007.

Timeless as the Renaissance

Landmarks, especially when they are functional, are treasured in Portland. A Portland landmark built in 1912, the 14-story, 287-room Benson Hotel contains some timeless design features, from its staircase of Italian marble to its Russian pillars and Austrian crystal chandeliers. Guestrooms also reflect an air of graciousness, down to the complimentary apples, coffee and tea. The hotel keeps its ratio of employees to guests at about one to one to maintain its high level of service. Both timeless and innovative, the Benson initiated a jazz club, a first in Portland. It offers wine tastings and afternoon tea. Its restaurant, the London Grill, entertains with live jazz performances. The Benson Hotel receives a three-star rating from Forbes Travel Guide, indicating that it is well appointed with expanded amenities. Pets are accepted with a fee and some restrictions.