Portland's hotels aren't made for Portlanders.
While some make an attempt to capture and reflect the culture of the city in some way, most are designed as gilded playgrounds for wealthy outsiders. Even if they're not technically off-limits to locals, that's often how they feel.
So we wondered: What are we missing?
To find out, we visited some of Portland's newest high-end hotels to see what special features are being offered to guests—and how, in some cases, Portlanders can take advantage.
Basement rec room
Tucked one flight of stairs beneath the lobby of Canopy is an absurdly large basement commons area. It has been dubbed a "winter garden" because it sits under a skylight, but it looks much more like a bougie interpretation of a summer-camp recreation room. The defining feature is sleek black foosball table, but the massive room, with its long wooden tables and forest of potted ferns, is genuinely cool, like discovering a national park lodge buried just west of the Park Blocks. AARON MESH.
For no explicable reason, Canopy also sells a set of mundane items—water bottle, yoga mat, socks—each monogrammed with the hotel's name. The best find? Bright orange umbrellas labeled "The Canopy," which at $15 are a perfect gag gift for the crabby Old Portlanders in your life—not only are they now carrying an umbrella, but it's an umbrella that declares they're a tourist. AM.
The Instagram lobby
The Hi-Lo Hotel has revamped the inside of the Oregon Pioneer Building, turning it into a glam, 'Grammable lounge space. The hotel has dark green couches, pastel pink chairs and gray curtains, but the main attraction are the cushioned swings hanging from the ceiling that make an ideal prop for vacation shots in the lobby. They ask guests to share the photos with the hashtag #swinghilo or the hotel's slogan, "Welcome, wanderer." KATIE SHEPHERD.
Eric Paul, Hi-Lo's general manager, says the hotel tries to incorporate as much of Portland as possible into its offerings: "You can experience Portland in here without going on the outside," he says. To that end, the hotel's store, the Merchant, sells locally made Maak Labs soaps, a Willamette Valley pinot noir from Chehalem Winery bottled just for the hotel, the "wanderer blend" of Nossa Familia's roasted coffee beans, and a red beer from Royale Brewing Co. called Alto Bajo Rojo—"high-low red," in Spanish. KS.
The Hi-Lo smells fantastic, particularly after walking through the smoky air downtown. A fresh-smelling signature scent is piped through the lobby constantly, though it's subtle enough you might not realize it's there on purpose. The hotel store sells candles with the "lobby scent" so you can make your house smell like the clean citrus notes whiffed as you walk in off Southwest Stark Street. The candles have proven so popular the hotel developed air-freshening sprays so guests could carry the signature scent with them. KS.
You're up on the 11th floor, and you're watching the cornholers go. The Duniway's upper deck of lawn games features a cornhole set with a pyramid of gold-and-black beanbags ready for tossing, along with two oversized wooden Jenga sets. This sedate pleasure palace is officially open only to hotel guests and accessed only by key card, but this reporter found that rule presented little practical barrier. Nearby, you'll find a warm and waveless indoor swimming pool, gently sloshing in fluorescent blue. Don't tell anybody. AM.
The Dossier Hotel
The Wy'East Wolfpack has legit trail cred. Founded by a pair of ultramarathoners who push their bodies to the limit on terrain both rugged and remote, this Portland business offers boot camps for anyone looking to embrace discomfort. Normally, there's a fee to join any of Wolfpack's group runs, but twice a week a guide leads both Dossier guests and locals on scenic routes across the city for free. Tuesdays starting at 6:30 pm, you can get a fast-pass Frommer's Guide to Portland's public art. For those looking to slip out of the urban core for a bit, a Thursday 6:30 am run winds around Washington Park's International Rose Test and Japanese gardens. The courses are 5 miles long, so it's no ultramarathon, but you can always tell yourself you're in training. ANDI PREWITT.
Custom workout videos
The sanctuary of an empty hotel gym is one of the underrated perks of traveling. But for those times when there are too many people sweating and grunting in your vicinity, Dossier makes it easy to lift, plank and squat in private. Simply call room service and ask for a goodie bag of gym gear. The Well+Fit kit contains a Manduka yoga mat, a set of barre3 bands, weights and a core ball. Then proceed to get your ass kicked by the Lab x Burn instructors who made three 20-minute body weight resistance videos just for guests. AP.
Local, weird and rare art
A lot of hotel art tends to resemble a tacky bedspread—abstract watercolor floral arrangements in pastels. Dossier actually put some effort into filling what are apparently offensive empty white spaces. Each guest room features paintings, prints and illustrations by Portlanders that are a visual nature walk, with arcing ferns, moss-covered stones and mushrooms sprouting from tree trunks like tiny shelves. The lobby holds the hotel's international collection, including a jarring multimedia commentary on surveillance by Tony Oursler, a Darth Vader helmet-shaped installation playing video of TV static and darting eyeballs. The real talker, though, is a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by photographer Chris Levine—said to be the only image of the monarch with her eyes closed. AP.
Oregon's only Steampunk coffee maker
Get a cup of coffee made by, allegedly, the only Steampunk in the state—no, not some dude in a top hat and Victorian-style eyeglasses. Steampunk is the name of a device that makes Water Avenue Coffee inside AC Marriott's walkup cafe window. The look of it is actually the opposite of the steampunk aesthetic: It's a glass and stainless steel cylinder that features what could double as a beer tap handle attached to the front. Steam heats the water and agitates the brew before it's filtered through a vacuum extraction, creating a cup with bolder flavors. AP.
Free snacks and hot yoga
Twice a month anyone can get freebies at the AC Lounge. On first Fridays, snacks are available to freelance writers for no charge—so fuel up when you can, because no one's buying a lot of groceries on 10 cents a word. Just tag AC Hotel Portland Downtown and use #FreelanceFriday on social media to earn some flatbread at the bar after 4 pm. On the final Friday of the month, sweat and then rehydrate with Happy Hour After Hot Yoga. If you're still conscious after an hour of fast-paced vinyasa sequences in a 96-degree room, your reward is extended discount pricing on food and drink from 8 to 9 pm. AP.
Pearl Hampton Inn
Chlorinated pools can feel like a chemical bath. The Hampton Inn's saline pool, however, uses a saltwater filtration system rather than tons of chemicals. It's telling that one of the only other saline pools in the city is at Oregon Health & Science University's fitness center—saline is just as sanitary and won't leave you with itchy eyes and dry skin. Located right next to the hotel gym, the pool is in a white-tiled room. There's a shallow kids' area with a small slide and an orca fountain, and a deep end for laps or soaking. The slightly salty water is far closer to a dip in a refreshing lake than a public pool. But unlike a natural body of water, the Hampton Inn's pool is not only sanitized, it's also heated. SHANNON GORMLEY.
TVs in the bathrooms
The Porter is filled with quirky features that add a little levity to the serious tone of its dark, decadent décor. The guest rooms have televisions inside the bathroom mirrors—yes, you can catch up on the news while you brush your teeth or enjoy an episode of Shark Tank in the shower. When the TVs are on, the mirrors allow the television image to fill the lower third of the glass. Head-on the picture looks like that on any television screen, but from an angle the reflection in the mirror becomes more prominent. KS.
Self-serve wine station
The lobby bar at the Porter was filled with Portlanders getting off work early on a Friday afternoon around 3 pm. Sales manager Nic Jonsson says people who work in the neighborhood will often drop into the lobby bar for a bite to eat before heading up to the rooftop bar, Xport, when it opens at 4 pm. There's also a wine station where guests can get automated pours of wine at any time using their room key—no bartender needed. KS.
The pizza window
Perhaps the most whimsical and accessible perk at the Porter is its pizza window, Chiosco. The grab-and-go slice spot is nothing more than a window off the kitchen where the hotel preps food for its restaurant and cafe. Anyone can walk up and order a slice of pizza made fresh daily by the hotel's kitchen staff, and eat like wealthy tourists eat. KS.