The Pearl’s three stylish hotels want guests and locals to stop by, hang out, and relax in their living room–inspired common spaces.
For both road warriors constantly on the go and the urbanites who live in downtown neighborhoods, hotels are rapidly becoming relied upon as more than glorified dormitories, geared exclusively to sleeping and perhaps a bite to eat in a generic restaurant. From traditionally functional midrange brands to luxury hoteliers, the current trend is toward designing expansive, warmly lighted lobbies with plush seating, thoughtfully curated art from prominent local galleries, and buzzworthy dining options.
The designers behind the Pearl District’s three hotels, two of which opened in the past year and another that dates back only to 2014, all devoted significant square footage and design effort to common spaces. “We wanted to create environments where guests could interact with us and each other,” says Jessica Rippel, director of sales at the Hampton Inn & Suites Portland–Pearl District.
“Our goal in the design was for the lobby to feel like a living room, where everyone would want to come down and enjoy the space.”
Having just opened in late June, the dapper Canopy by Hilton Portland Pearl District (425 NW 9th Ave, 971-351-0230, canopy3.hilton.com) is one of the first outposts of a hip, design-focused brand that clearly has the aesthetic of younger, style-minded travelers in mind. Techy innovations abound in the gorgeous rooms, all with floor-to-ceiling windows. But the hotel is also “all about community—we want Canopy to be the streetlamp of the neighborhood,” says Terry Goldman, the hotel’s Chief Enthusiast.
“Our owners made a big investment in the permanent art collection as a way of making the hotel a real First Thursday destination”
All of the smartly but casually dressed hotel staffers, by the way, are called “enthusiasts,” and they cheerfully recommend local galleries and restaurants and even dispense bikes for guests to use.
The vibe is hyper-local. Vibrant contemporary artwork, curated by neighboring Elizabeth Leach Gallery, hangs throughout the guest rooms and the generous public spaces. Adds Goldman: “Our owners made a big investment in the permanent art collection as a way of making the hotel a real First Thursday destination—and a key part of the Pearl’s gallery district.”
On the main level, a gift shop sells cool Northwest products, from Jacobsen Salt to pillows in the shape of Mount Hood, and the sleek, inviting Canopy Central café carries items from Nuvrei Bakery, Pop Bagel, and other local businesses. The check-in area has both conversation-friendly seating and several private nooks with glass partition walls and outlets for those who need to sneak in some work time.
Descend the stairs into the hotel’s signature gathering spot, the Winter Garden, where streaming sunlight, lush plants, deep leather and upholstered chairs, Pendleton fabrics and pillows, a communal work table, and even an artisan-crafted foosball table all work together to create a Northwest lodge–meets–chic industrial environment that’s conducive to both work and socializing. “We want this to be an extension of the lobby,” says Goldman. “A place to come have a cocktail or coffee and sit down for a while.”
Canopy Central restaurant, helmed by former Rey chef Sarah Woods, turns out inventive farm-to-table modern American food and creative cocktails using spirits from Aria, Bull Run, and other Portland distillers. The hotel has even partnered with Bee Local Honey to raise bees for on-site honey production in eight hives on the hotel’s green roof (where you’ll also find the fitness center, which boasts perhaps the best views of any workout space in town).
Its spacious rooms outfitted with large work-living areas and well-stocked kitchens, the six-story Residence Inn Portland Downtown Pearl District (1150 NW 9th Ave, 503-220-1339, marriott.com) appears at first glance as though it could be one of the several contemporary condos on the neighboring blocks. The lobby is well-suited to lounging, with nicely spaced armchairs, sofas, and café tables, and you can order a burger or crab cakes—along with a local IPA or pinot gris—at the casual Lot 4 Restaurant and Lounge, which has a seamless open floor plan.
But the hotel’s pride and joy is its serene, expansive courtyard, with its geometrically laid-out gardens, long wooden benches, chaise longues, birch trees hung with twinkly lights, and gas firepits. On warm days, it’s a pleasure to kick back and relax here. You can even cook up a storm on the state-of-the-art grill. The spaces and amenities at the Residence Inn feel primarily geared to overnight guests, but the ambience is utterly inviting.
Like Canopy, the Hampton Inn & Suites Portland–Pearl District (354 NW 9th Ave, 503-222-5200, hamptoninn3.hilton.com), which opened in September 2017, has the capacity and the personality to appeal both to overnighters and folks living or working nearby. A major draw is the critically acclaimed restaurant, Tanner Creek Tavern, which is just off of—and feels like an extension of—the long, rectangular lobby.
“Everyone is completely welcome to stop in, hang out, admire the artwork, or chat and relax before heading into Tanner Creek Tavern”
The team behind one of the snazziest properties in the entire Hampton Inn brand was explicit about wanting the lobby to serve as a welcoming space to all. Large windows invite passersby inside and provide guests with a big view of the neighborhood. And in the morning, the complimentary breakfast served in the lobby’s north end creates a lively energy. Rippel loves that locals enjoy the space. “I have customers with offices nearby who sometimes stop by the lobby to meet with clients,” she says. “Everyone is completely welcome to stop in, hang out, admire the artwork, or chat and relax before heading into Tanner Creek Tavern.”
The dynamic art collection, curated by a former employee of Gallery 903, rotates quarterly. The lobby has a number of other fun elements to draw people in, from books and magazines to cards and games—there’s even a chessboard. Guests staying at the hotel do also have their own private sanctuary: a spacious roof-deck with views of the tall trees shading the Park Blocks, Fremont Bridge, and the downtown skyline. “On a clear day, you can see Mt Hood,” says Rippel, adding that many guests come up here with picnic supplies and wine from neighboring World Foods Market. – Andrew Collins | Photos by Paul Wagtouicz