In Hungry Concierge, we travel the world to spot hotels that operate with their guests’ food and drink needs squarely in mind — hotels, both big and small, that are located in neighborhoods rich with bar and restaurant options. Because there’s nothing worse than having your trip derailed by crummy room service.
There’s no shortage of reasons why Portland, Oregon, is one of the most popular destinations for frequent travelers. For starters, the weather is surprisingly temperate year round, with four distinct seasons and no harsh extremes, like swampy summers or soul-crushing winters. (Though there can be extended periods of light rain.) As you already know, the local dining scene is tough to beat. From local institutions to the next big thing in food trends, you’ll have no problem finding it here. And if you’re into drinking like a champ, you’re also in luck. The City of Roses is not only home to more breweries than any other American city, but there are exceptional Pinot Noirs to be discovered in nearby wine country. And let’s not forget the killer music scene, chiller-than-chill vibes and endless options for outdoor enthusiasts. (In short: Portland is one of the few places I’ll happily dig deep into my shallow pockets to get to.)
If there were ever a weak link in the city’s landscape, though, it’s downtown. While the area’s been typically associated with bleak office buildings, wimpy restaurants and tourists who don’t know any better, its reputation is on the upswing with a well-deserved clutch of new restaurants, bars and accommodations, like Kimpton’s recently renovated Hotel Vintage.
Formerly the Hotel Vintage Plaza, the newly rebranded Hotel Vintage has undergone nearly $16 million in improvements, which wrapped up last March. Seattle’s Dawson Design Associates, a boutique hospitality interior design firm, spearheaded the design efforts, from the common spaces to the guest rooms and suites. The lobby is cheery and bright, with custom touches like a grape cluster light fixture, an oversize topographic map of Willamette Valley and a sparkling new lobby bar called Bacchus Bar. (Yes, there’s a wine theme going on here.) A grand spiral staircase leads guests to the second floor, to the Pinot Noir Game Lounge. It’s stocked with a pool table, air hockey and, get this: Atari. Meanwhile, at the hotel’s all-day dining restaurant, Pazzo, chef Kenny Giambalvo specializes in tried-and-true Italian favorites, like wood-fired margherita pizzas, handmade pappardelle tossed with his famed “Sunday meat sauce” and crisp Caesar salad.
The Rooms: Oenophiles will find plenty to love, because each of the 117 rooms and suites is sponsored by a local winery in the Willamette Valley. If you book the Brooks Winery suite, for example, you’ll find two bottles (available for purchase) from Brooks Winery in your mini bar. (In addition, each sponsoring winery provides the wine at the popular daily hosted wine hour four times a year.) The rooms and suites are airy and well-appointed, but in true Portland fashion, none of them feel the least bit precious or overdone. They all feature thoughtfully curated elements, such as a distressed oak headboard, handsome wood butcher-block desk and custom art made from recycled wine corks. Walls are cloaked in either white or wine-inspired deep purple, with a punch of fun color provided by the cherry red sofas.
The Look: Hotel Vintage is a love letter to Portland, and dedicated to the region’s world-class wines and local culture. From the blackboard wine installation flanking the Bacchus Bar to the fully stocked Pinot Noir Game Lounge to the wine-inspired accommodations, it’s about conveying a look that’s inviting, comfortable and most importantly, fun.
The Neighborhood: The best part of staying here is that you’ll find plenty of solid eating and drinking within an easy half-mile stroll. Just a few blocks away is the bustling Red Star Tavern at fellow Kimpton property Hotel Monaco. The happy hour here steals the scene with $6 snacks, like the popular tender brisket tacos and caramelized and confited chicken drumsticks. Beloved chef Gregory Gourdet keeps Departure, a rooftop lounge and restaurant at the Nines Hotel, packed with his creative spins on Asian snacks like his irresistible deep-fried chicken wings glazed in a sticky sweet sauce, or the kampachi sashimi, which arrives with a white ponzu and crispy taro chips. At Hotel Lucia’s Imperial, located next door to the Hotel Vintage, chef Vitaly Paley turns out classic, hearty comforts like buttery Parker House rolls, wood-fired rib eyes and fried chicken. Cheese fanatics should beeline to Chizu, a charming nook that encourages diners to order cheese “omakase” style. (Tell your monger how much you’d like to spend, and you’ll be presented with a tray of freshly cut cheeses, bread, honey and dried fruits.) Directly next door to Chizu is Multnomah Whiskey Library, a speakeasy-like den that’s home to a mind-boggling collection of whiskeys from all over the world. At chef Cathy Whims‘s latest venture, the sleekly designed Hamlet, you can dig into what might be the hottest food and drink pairing right now, hand-carved ham and Spanish sherry. To see one of Food Republic’s contributing cocktail editors, Jeffrey Morgenthaler, making magic, head to Pepe Le Moko, the Ace Hotel’s dark, sexy basement bar. He’s stripped back the pretense associated with contemporary cocktails and put the fun back into boozing with quality versions of Long Island iced teas, Amaretto sours and grasshoppers.
Hotel Vintage Portland
422 SW Broadway, Portland
Rooms start at $175 per night