They do Things Differently in Oregon…(a series)

August 13th, 2012

Planning our trip to Oregon, we came upon several hotels owned by the Mcmenamin Brothers. These guys are very creative; they take old (historic) buildings and create hotels out of them, generally keeping a lot of the place intact, posting historic photos and emphasizing the original theme of the place. We stayed at Kennedy Schools, out in the suburbs, which has a pretty neat history as well, but our favorite experience was staying at the building connected with the old Crystal Ballroom close to downtown Portland. This is a great place if you want to have an urban experience that’s somewhat quirky; you are within walking distance of Powell’s Bookstore as well as many great clubs and restaurants in the Pearl District. The hotel rooms, as in all Mcmenamins, have themes, murals or drawings of some kind in the room, and hand-painted headboards.  Ours was the Summertime Blues! Some rooms have private baths, others shared. Do check out the historic music photos along the walls and stairwells.

Lyrics are written on wall above headboard  “Tried to call my baby…ain’t no cure for the Sum. Blues!”

This hotel has an excellent restaurant at street level (Zeus Cafe), as well as a bar/restaurant downstairs with live music several nights a week. The music we heard was exceptional–a local trio of women singers, plus a cellist from Europe. There was no cover, and the food and drinks were great. There is also in this downstairs level a wonderful saltwater soaking pool, which appears to be a pretty happening thing in Oregon, at least in all the Mcmenamin Bros hotels. They also tend to all have live music, sometimes a spa and wine tastings–they have their own vineyard and beer brewery, and have several beer pubs throughout the state! The Crystal is quirky and inexpensive; at the other end of the spectrum is probably their Grand Lodge ( Check out the options if you’re going to Oregon…

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