Central Oregon is the place to be for the outdoor crowd. McMenamins Old St. Francis School is the place to stay for outdoor adventurers, as well as those seeking to explore Bend, Oregon. The historic Bend hotel was once a school house. Today, relaxation, exploring and drinking have replaced reading, writing and recess. McMenamins Old St. Francis School in Central Oregon gets an A grade in my report card.
This brick and mortar historic hotel is one of a dozen, and counting, properties owned by McMenamins. The company specializes in taking old properties and converting them into hip and stylish hotels in Oregon and Washington. Many of these hotels contain restaurants, breweries and secret rooms. Old St. Francis School is no exception. The Central Oregon hotel has several restaurants and even more bars, attracting both hotel guests and Bend locals.
The hotel appeals to skiers, snowboarders and sun-seekers, with outdoor fire pits burning year-round. The property features 60 hotel rooms in the 1936 Schoolhouse, the Art House, Ed House, and Parrish House, a 2-story guest cottage.
Inside the main building, individual rooms are named after colorful Bend, Oregon characters. We stayed in Klondike Kate’s room, a wood-paneled king room with heavy wood furniture.
Pet-friendly rooms include a desk, flat-screen television, and coffee maker. White cotton robes were included in the room, for sale at the front desk if you’d like to take one home with you. The robes were handy when walking to the soaking pool in a separate building. Remember to pack slippers if you plan to walk to the indoor pool.
The walk-in shower was large and included small shampoo and conditioner bottles. A hairdryer was tucked into the top shelf of the armoire in the bedroom.
One item that was noticeably missing in our hotel room during our stay was a microwave oven. I had packed microwave popcorn as I saw that this McMenamins had its own movie theater. Turns out the Old St. Francis School Theater sells popcorn, in addition to pizza, small bites, and handcrafted ale.
Central Oregon Hotel Dining and Bar Options
Guests will not go hungry or thirsty at this McMenamins hotel. The main restaurant is the Old St. Francis School Pub, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We enjoyed several hearty breakfasts at the pub and a wonderful dinner with four other friends and family members.
If you are looking for an ale by the fire or a friendly game of shuffleboard, head to the Fireside Bar. The movie theater, and yet another bar, is also housed in this building. Guests must be 21 and older to imbibe at the Fireside Bar. Bend locals and hotel guests of all ages are welcome at the theater.
Head over to the Art House to search for secret rooms and the hidden Broom Closet. If you are in the mood for a cigar or glass of whiskey, venture to O’Kanes, an antique-filled pub with cool stained glass windows. Another pet-friendly patio with fire pit beckons outside.
The saltwater soaking pool is an added bonus at this Central Oregon hotel. A former catholic school with a Turkish bath you ask? I’m fairly certain that the beautifully tiled pool walls and fountains were added after the renovation from school to hotel. Same goes for the secret rooms and hidden Broom Closet bar.
The hotel is centrally located in downtown Bend. An easy drive to Mt. Bachelor for skiing or snowboarding or even closer to the Old Mill District for a float down the Deschutes River, this former school house has rooms for every hotel guest.
Rates start at $150 in off-peak times, but like many outdoor destinations, this McMenamins hotel is popular year-round. Book your stay at the official website or compare rates and book through a site like Booking.com or Priceline.
Review and photos by Oregon-based travel writer Nancy D. Brown who received a media rate for a 3-night stay in Bend.