Old-timers tell me there were always "cool" places to stay in the wilder areas of the Pacific Northwest.
I never found that, exactly. Outside of a handful of spots like the Commodore Hotel in Astoria and the Sou'Wester Lodge in Seaview, Wash., once you leave the city it's hard to find a spot spinning vinyl in the lobby and serving decent coffee and cocktails.
And if you're out in the Cascades? Forget about it—it's all divey motels and golf resorts.
Thankfully, the people behind Ace Hotel Portland have finally given New Portland its first suitable base camp—in the mountains near Bend.
The hotel chain operates little Stumptown-brewing embassies of hipster bougieness in places like London's Shoreditch district, downtown L.A. and Seattle's Belltown neighborhood. Now, it's gone woodsy, taking over a dilapidated lakeside lodge just west of Sisters in the Deschutes National Forest.
Rather than turning the Suttle Lodge & Boathouse into another Ace, they've left it remarkably lodgelike, an egalitarian and functional setup that requires staffers to pitch in everywhere. Bartender-about-town Eric Nelson will make a standout Negroni in the evening, then get the fire roaring in the morning.
Everyone is welcome to toss a record on the custom-built stereo cabinet, one of those '60s vintage furniture pieces that's been gutted and retrofitted with new speakers that sound great. The continental breakfast comes with top-shelf fancy granola and a wonderful selection of cheese and charcuterie. For dinner, there are celery root salads, salmon melts and upscale cracker-crust pizzas—think fancy Totino's—topped with ingredients like delicata squash and Mama Lil's peppers.
The rooms are spacious and appointed with nice beds with Pendleton blankets, and super-comfy, custom-sewn beanbag chairs.
In the summer and fall, when we visited, canoes and paddleboats are available to take out on the 21-square-mile lake, and there's a boathouse bar where you can play ladderball and cornhole. This time of year, it's all about snowshoeing around the lake and getting cuddly by the fire.
There's no cell service, and the Wi-Fi sucks—so you know you're roughing it.
Suttle Lodge & Boathouse, 13300 U.S. Highway 20, Sisters, 541-638-7001, thesuttlelodge.com.