My three nights at the Inn at Northrup Station in Portland, Oregon, took me back to New Zealand. The Kiwis have no shortage of quirky hotels with all the comforts of home. Here in the U.S., this is just a rarity.
What makes it stand apart from other hotels in Portland? And in the country, for that matter?
First, there’s an in-room kitchen. A stove, four burners, a full-sized refrigerator. Now, Portland has all the restaurants you could ever want. So why bother with a kitchen? Because of the abundant farmer’s markets. Sarah and I went to a Saturday market -- scored some morel mushrooms, fresh pasta, crab, baby bok choy. We turned it into an awesome feast.
The neighborhood also stands out. It’s right on the Portland streetcar line, which connects to the MAX lightrail (to the airport and many other points). You’re walking-distance from Jeld-Wen Field (home of the Portland Timbers MSL team), the Pearl District, an uncountable number of shops and restaurants. And yes, brewpubs.
And give Northrup Station style points. No bland beige or institutional furniture. Purples, yellows, reds -- I know plenty of people who’d like their house to look like a room at Northrup Station. It oozes "hip," but not "hipster."
The service is far more personal and friendly than average. The staff members are friendly, ready to print your boarding passes, give you free tickets for the street car or directions to just about any cool spot. You also get a free if unspectacular breakfast. Didn’t bring a computer? Just slide behind one of the Macs.
Finally, the price is reasonable. Less than $150 a night in the beginning of summer – with all the fees and taxes. Just try equaling that in Seattle or Vancouver.
When I return to Portland, I’ll stay here again. I’ll try scoring a room on the third (top) floor -- some people have heavy footsteps.
But if all I get is a second-floor room, I still won’t complain. Not with all the other factors adding up to a great and unusual hotel.