When you think of Portland, Oregon, do you imagine palm trees, chandeliers, gold-trimmed woodwork, and glamorous Hollywood film stars?
No, I didn’t think so.
But the boutique Hotel deLuxe, in a renovated 1912 building on the edge of downtown, has brought Hollywood chic to this city of Gore-Tex, bike lanes, food carts, and indie movies.
The hotel’s most distinctive design feature is the black-and-white photos of film stars from the 1930s-1950s that line the hotel’s public spaces, corridors, and guest rooms. Each floor has a different theme: if you’re a Hitchcock fan, stay on the 2nd floor; if you’re into European directors, like Ingmar Bergman or Frederico Fellini, you’ll find photos from their flicks on the sixth. An illuminated mirror-wall in front of the elevator clues you in to each floor’s concept, and plaques on the back of each guest room door describe the photos inside the room.
The 130 rooms on eight floors — all similarly furnished in golds and greens, with turquoise accents, movie photos, and the expected flat-screen TVs, Wi-Fi, coffee makers, and mini-bars/fridges — vary in size from tiny to spacious. Ours had ample room to lounge about (and for a distinctively Portland touch, we could even store our bicycles in the walk-in closet), but the all-white bathroom was so small that two people could barely brush their teeth together.
Other rooms have capacious bathrooms and smaller closets, so ask before booking if you care about a particular layout. The brightest rooms are on the upper floors or at the front of the hotel; some inside units face the opposite wall of the U-shaped building — perfect for Rear Window-style encounters, but not so hot if you want daylight.
TIP: The most romantic accommodations are in Room 721, the Marlene Dietrich Suite, which features an eight-foot round bed.
Hollywood glamor aside, the Hotel deLuxe has plenty of eclectic touches that make it right at home in funky Portland. Instead of run-of-the-mill “Do Not Disturb” signs, the door hangers say “Quiet on the Set.”
Every room has a “spiritual menu,” where you can request not just the King James Bible, but also the Torah, the Koran, the Hindu Bhagavad Gita, Buddhism’s Four Noble Truths, the Book of Mormon, as well as books on Scientology.
You can choose the type of pillow you prefer and order an iPod playlist (or borrow an iPod if you didn’t bring your own).
And each room phone has a button labeled “Make It So” that’s essentially a hotline to the concierge staff.
With lighting so dark even an ingenue could hide out, the oh-so-cool Driftwood Room lounge pours retro-trendy cocktails (Champagne drinks, manhattans, and martinis are specialties), as well as fun “fauxtails,” like the tart Poinsettia (orange bitters, elderflower water, and cranberry juice) or the Anthony Hopkins (rose syrup, mango puree, orange and lime juices, and soda). Tapping into Portland’s love of happy hours, the Driftwood offers discounted drinks from 2 to 6:30 pm and again after 9:30 in the evening.
Gracie’s Restaurant, where the curvaceous booths would be perfect for an amorous tête-à-tête, doesn’t serve a traditional breakfast or lunch menu, instead offering brunch from early morning to mid-afternoon; after all, starlets may not be able to face the tasty poached egg-topped vegetable hash till the sun is high in the sky. In the evening, the kitchen sends out grilled wild salmon, roasted game hen with chanterelles, and other Northwest classics, along with mogul-pleasing plates like a New York strip steak.
Hotel deLuxe targets couples, girlfriend getaways, and individual business travelers; while families are welcome, there are no particular amenities to draw the kids. The hotel has no pool, and the small fitness room seems like an afterthought. You can walk downtown or to the bustling Pearl District in less than 15 minutes, and the light rail stops less than a block away.
Summer high-season rates start at $179 for the smaller “deluxe” rooms and at $229 for the more spacious “feature” rooms. Check for online specials and package deals on the Hotel deLuxe website.
Hotel review by Vancouver-based travel, food, and feature writer Carolyn B. Heller, who also blogs about her culinary adventures at WanderFood. Lobby, corridor, and Driftwood Room photos courtesy of Hotel deLuxe. Guest room photos © Carolyn B. Heller. Hotel deLuxe and Travel Portland hosted my stay for review purposes.