Traveling with my job, I’ve stayed in my fair share of hotels. For too long I ran the circuit of the big name hotels, lured by points, priority check-in (who cares?), and the coveted sliver, ahem, excuse me, platinum card that comes in the mail every year, telling me I am important and am not home that much.
Well I’m here to tell you it’s all a sham.
No matter what you pay at these chain hotels (I’m talking Marriott, Hilton, H.I. Express, Hyatt and the like), you get: a lobby with stuffed chairs and a blah, if upscale feel, expensive parking, expensive breakfast. For your $150-$200+ you get a room that looks basically the same no matter if you are in Seattle, San Francisco, Hong Kong or Indianapolis. I mean really. It’s just a shoebox with nice bed, a big TV and a stark, functional, but characterless bathroom. These hotels are generally funded by developers looking to get as much money out of a plot of land as possible, with no regard for the locality they inhabit. Had enough of this discussion? So have I. In fact, I’ve had enough of these places in general.
Now try this on for size.
- Rooms with character. Each room is a bit different. Some have murals. My current room has one wall papered in an old dictionary.
- The ceilings are tall, the floors are wood.
- A sweet elk on my “Portland” bedspread. Put on Elk on it!
- A clawfoot bathtub.
- Wooden floors that delightfully squeak as you walk up the stars or step into your room.
- Record Players (in some rooms)
- Custom soap and bath products. (Have you tried the cilantro conditioner?! I could drink that stuff.)
- Stumptown Coffee in the Lobby. Let me repeat. Stumptown. Lobby.
- A photobooth in the Lobby.
- Clyde Commons, the restaurant attached to the hotel, is the sort of place you'd actually want to go on a Friday night and you'd actually want to eat the food.
- Oh, and did I mention it’s the same cost or cheaper than the big chains?
- The lobby is hip beyond all imagining. I feel like I’ve stepped into a set for “America’s Next Top Hipster.” You really feel out of place unless you have multiple tattoos and/or piercing, and look like you don't give a damn. It’s kinda ridiculous really, but kinda fun too. Explore your inner skinny jeans.
- The breakfast is reasonably priced ($8), delicious and healthy too. The guy working it said he got all the fruit today from the Farmer’s Market. How very Portland. Wherever it was from it was delicious. Blackberries, peaches, blueberries, cherries cheeses, toast with Nutella, pastries, yogurt, etc, etc, and (of course), Stumptown Coffee. All in a nifty little breakfast room with communal wooden table with copies of the New York Times, or a window seat by the little roof-top herb garden.
Have you ever seen an herb garden at the Hilton? I think not.
And maybe the best part, Powell’s is a block away.