Razzle's Travels

Hilton Portland – My default hotel
July 21, 2008, 12:55 am
Filed under: Hotel, OR, Portland
When I need to stay in downtown Portland on the cheap I go to Priceline and bid on a 3 star hotel. I have yet to get anywhere but the Hilton. Usually hovering somewhere around $110 a night, this weekend I hit the jackpot and got it for $64 (going rate was $149 at the hotel).
In the five times I’ve stayed here, this was the first time they accomodated my request for a room with a king bed. So those are the pics you see.
Room sizes completely vary, this king room was the smallest room I’ve been in, I’ve also had corner doubles that were enormous and a couple other doubles that were average size and a very small double. So if you get a room that is small and you are staying with someone, you might want to try asking if they have another room available.
The beds aren’t super comfy like some of the other Hiltons I’ve stayed at, but also not uncomfortable by any means. I chalk it up to the older status of the hotel.
It is an older hotel, decor wise, but very centrally located and I can walk anywhere downtown or in the Pearl relatively quickly. There is a Max station located a couple blocks down in Pioneer Square and the Streetcar runs a few blocks over on 10th. Shopping galore is also a couple blocks away, Nordstrom, a huge Banana Republic and also the mall.
It is also generally a very busy hotel! This is the one time I’ve checked in and not come across large groups of people and parties in the lobby.
There is a fitness center, which they charge $10 a day to use, and internet is also at a charge, like all other Hiltons. Parking is $25 a day, but there is a lot across 6th Street that charges $15 for overnight parking if you just need a place to stash the car while you sleep.
Another odd thing I came across charge-wise, I left my rings in the bathroom and realized it when it was too late to turn around and go back. I called and security confirmed they were in the bathroom. They offered to mail it back to me, but would need a credit card to charge it to. Otherwise they will hold on to them for 60 days. I didn’t understand why they wouldn’t just mail them to me in an envelope and not charge me, but it just seemed part of the small fees for everything nature of the chain.
I’ve eaten at the 921 Bistro a few times, and it is reasonably priced and the food is fairly good. Great if you get in late at night and just want a quick bite to eat before bed. But if you have time and want really good food you are just a walk from tons of restaurants. For breakfast it’s good if you want a quick bite before a meeting, but if you have time you need to go to Mother’s instead.
Overall, it’s a good bargain if you are in town and need a centrally located place to stay.

A little bit of Rock n Roll – Jupiter Hotel – Portland
May 4, 2008, 1:23 am
Filed under: Hotel, OR, Portland

The Jupiter is what I’m going to refer to as Rock n’ Roll hotel. It is home to the Doug Fir Lounge, a small venue with live indie bands, food, and obviously a bar. Located nearby is also Union Jack’s a strip bar. So, on a Saturday night, you can only imagine that it is crowded, loud, and full of partiers. We arrived late (1 am) and the hotel parking was full, so park on a residential side street and pray for no ticket in the morning. I didn’t really see any signs clearly marking the hotel, so it’s a good thing my companion had stayed there before!

There’s lots of outdoor seating, and I swear I saw a firepit, but I may have been a bit tipsy. I suspect this used to be a Travelodge or a Howard Johnson’s type hotel, that was just updated to be kinda cool kinda funky. We ended up in one of the Lobu rooms.

This means a queen platform bed with a light comforter and blanket, no artwork, a small table with two chairs and a tv. The bed however, is comfortable and the towels soft.

Very minimalistic, and very small. There is chalk in the room, and until the morning I didn’t realize it was for the room door that is painted with chalkboard paint. Cool!

The bathroom also follows the minimalist approach, fun vinyl shower curtain, small sink. Very basic.

The only, and biggest complaint I have about the Jupiter is the super thin walls. We had been placed between two rooms that were for one group of friends. So there was lots of going back and forth between the two rooms, standing in front of our room and having conversations about who was drunker than who, and who could kick a cops ass. Other conversations revolved around which strip club was better (Mary’s is apparently more “accomodating”). I couldn’t decide if it was a bunch of frat boys, or a bachelor party.

So if you want a romantic night away, I wouldn’t recommend staying here for a relaxing quiet night. I would however recommend it for a girls or boys night out partying late. Or if you want to have really loud sex and want people to hear.

The lobby has apples and coffee in the morning, and the Doug Fir apparently serves a decent breakfast starting early in the morning for those of you who don’t plan on going to bed.

Home Cooking in Portland – Mothers Bistro & Bar
July 15, 2007, 2:32 am
Filed under: Brunch, Food, OR, Portland

Tasty tasty and cute! We popped in on a Saturday morning and while there was a line outside the wait was maybe only 5-10 minutes. I’d heard good things about Mother’s and they were right. The french toast dipped in cornflakes sounds strange, but works, really well. So well, you don’t even need syrup. The stuffed frittata was tasty, I like sour cream and bacon and cheese and if you put all that together you can’t really go wrong.

The decor was so bright and airy, I loved the big windows, and the yellow and green walls and the chandeliers. I want a big house so I can decorate it like that.

Moral of the story: don’t be intimidated by the long line on a weekend, it goes by fast.

I can’t wait to get back to try thier Mac & Cheese, something tells me it won’t disappoint.

Great Ambiance, Lame Service – Bluehour
July 15, 2007, 2:28 am
Filed under: Food, OR, Portland

I had been to Bluehour before in 2003 and absolutely loved everything about it, the food, the decor, the service. Sadly, my last visit had a very different experience. The service was subpar. Our waiter could have cared less that we were there (no bread for us, yet all the other tables got some), we ordered the cheese tray and he just put it on the table and didn’t tell us what he brought out. When we asked he seemed annoyed and said “I can’t really explain what I want to say” and just walked off. We stared at the cheese and each other, laughed a bit, were confused as to if he was serious. He walked by the table a couple more times, and stopped in and started telling us how hard his job was, memorizing new menus everyday, and wines, and cheeses, and he’d been there since 10 am. So here was the cheese list, we could take it shopping with us if we liked the ones he put on the tray. (Um ok, but really this is your job, I don’t call my clients and bitch about how much work I have to do everyday and tell them I can’t be bothered with thier work). He just had a bad attitude, and I don’t go out to what is supposedly still one of Portland’s best restaurants to deal with a snarky disgruntled waiter.The only thing that is meriting more than one star is the food, it is still excellent (altho my lamb was more fat than meat – it’s a good thing I like lamb fat) the tuna tartare and avocado mixture was very tasty, nice touch with the tangerines, the burger my friend got was enormous, and the cheeses were quite good. We didn’t try dessert, since he didn’t ask us if we wanted any, and brought the check after clearing our dishes.

Aequis Spa Retreat
April 26, 2007, 4:22 am
Filed under: OR, Portland, Spa

There are lots of spas in Portland, and it was tough picking one for a good spa day with a friend, but we finally settled on Aequis.

Love this place! Took a few minutes of wandering around the street to realize it was in the Mark Spencer, but from the minute we walked in we were pleasantly surprised. The waiting/relaxation room is HUGE, and yet feels completely intimate. The decor is very Indian-esque with lots of pillows and deep reds and music.

The foot soak/massage at the start of the journey is amazingly relaxing and fun. I found thier method of picking the scents unique and accurate. I was supposed to have a female massuese, but for whatever reason we both ended up with males. This usually skeeves me out and keeps me from being relaxed. But both our guys were fabulous. (It helped a lot that I thought mine was hot- seriously where else could I get a cute tattooed boy to rub warm stones and oil all over me? Not any spa I’ve been to yet). The medley massage itself was great, we went to lunch afterwards and I wanted to nap I was so relaxed. Mostly I want to go back for another one today.

We did the couples room, and yet were enjoying our massages so much we didn’t talk to each other at all. It started off with a light feather run along our arms and backs, incorporated some hot stones, deep tissue and swedish styles. They do encourage a lymphatic massage, and the form you fill out does ask if you are comfortable with that. It was interesting, slightly uncomfortable for me since I tend to be very ticklish, but as he had noticed that from the foot soak, he was gentle and it felt strangely good. The massage ends with a scalp treatment, where they brush your hair (yes, cute boys brushing your hair, I swear this should be illegal!) and pour a warm oil over your hair. A warm towel is then wrapped around your head and you are left to relax for a few more minutes.

The only strange-ish thing, was that for a space this large, there were no lockers. But you put all your stuff in a garment bag in the changing area and it finds its way back to you in the shower. The showers were enormous and had beautiful tile work. I didn’t want to leave.

Ladies, go there and treat yourself to the best spa experience in Portland.

Happy Hour in the Pearl – Manzana Rotisserie and Ringlers Pub
March 28, 2007, 3:07 am
Filed under: Cheap Eats, Food, OR, Portland

There are two places in Portland for good, cheap food. Manzana Rotisserie Grill in the Pearl offers happy hour food specials M-Sat from 3:30 – 6:30 and 9 pm – close and on Sundays from Midnight to close. The specials require a $2.50 drink minimum (if you don’t drink you can order a bottled water) and the food runs from $1.95 – $3.95 and is well worth swinging by (just remember to sit only in the bar area for happy hour to apply). The quality is good, the service fast, and the menu varied with some southwestern flavor. We ended up here when everything in the Pearl had a long wait and we had theater tickets we needed to get to in an hour. The food was on the table within 15 minutes of us sitting down. No frills just solid straightforward food.
Another option is Ringlers Pub which is part of the McMenamin’s family, located on Burnside underneath the Crystal Ballroom and on the edge of the Pearl. Thier happy hour is only from 4-6pm daily, so no late night snack attack to be filled here. The menu is a bit shorter on the options, and prices a bit higher – all items are $2.50 and the min. drink order is $3.00. The food here is more standard American (well, if you don’t count the hummus option). Also great food, a more casual atmosphere. Service here was a bit slower, but they had great music playing and we were able to enjoy hanging out. Another plus, the happy hour menu here isn’t limited to the bar section.
You can’t go wrong with either restaurant.

Heathman Hotel
March 18, 2007, 8:24 pm
Filed under: Hotel, OR, Portland

My favorite hotel in Portland, the Heathman is all class. Upon entering the lobby you are greeted by one of thier personal concierges. The idea behind this being you need one contact throughout most of your stay. The same person that checks you in, also takes your bags to your room, and helps with anything you might need during thier shift.
The best thing about the hotel are the beds. They have a choice of mattresses, tempurpedic (for those who like a firmer bed and don’t like to feel the person next to them moving), featherbeds (for those who, like me, enjoy the feeling of squishiness and fluff when they sleep) and pillowtops (for that something in between feeling). If you know what kind of bed you prefer, indicate at the time you make your reservation. The staff are very accomodating about taking you to different rooms to try out the various beds.
Room sizes at the hotel vary considerably. The deluxe king and queen rooms are small. Not much room to walk around the bed or armoir. Splurge the extra $20 and upgrade to the executive King or 2 Queens. That room will give you plenty of room to walk in the room, a desk, and a seating area. The executive King rooms ending in 04 are the best in my opinion, they have windows on two walls giving you plenty of light and a good view of Broadway. The rooms ending in 24 give you a good view of the hills and the theater. The symphony suite has a completely seperate sitting area, divided from the bedroom with pocket french doors. But also has a pull out sofa, nice if you are 3 people.
All rooms have free highspeed internet, but not wireless, that is accessible in the public areas of the hotel.
Another nice touch is the dvd collection the hotel offers, ask the concierge for a list of the movies. You then just call down from your room, they put your movie of choice in and tell you what channel it will be on.
The fitness room is small, but gets the job done, I’ve never had anyone else in there with me so getting a machine is not a problem.
Location? Prime for shopping, only a couple blocks from Nordtrom, Pioneer Square, and the giant mall. You can catch the MAX Lightrail in Pioneer Square, to go pretty much anywhere in the greater Portland area (it also goes to the airport, that is about an hour ride). A couple blocks in the other direction and you are at one of the streetcar stops that will take you to the Pearl and NW23rd for all the shopping and eating those neighborhoods offer. Streetcar to the Pearl (a fairly quick ride) still falls within the fareless square, which means free rides both ways. Even heading out of the fareless square is $1.70 (for a 2 hour ticket), tickets are purchased on the train. In the opposite direction the same streetcar will take you up to the South Waterfront.
There are a couple albums with local restaurant menus in the lobby, these being the finer of the local restaurants. Speaking of which, the Heathman boasts a fine restaurant of its own. For a healthy breakfast I recommend the homemade granola and yogurt, the portion size is extremely filling. I’ve eaten enough dinners there to say I’ve never had a bad dish. Room service prices are higher than the restaurant, and the restaurant is never awkward alone, so no real reason to order room service, unless you want to spend a few extra dollars.
They also keep your preferences from visit to visit in thier computer, so if you want to have chocolate and apples waiting for you on each visit, they will have it for you.