Usually when choosing a hotel, it's about the location more than anything else. Many times we select a slightly less-endearing accommodation to save a few dollars, only to use them later on memorable activities and photo-worthy food. It's a priority that I feel most Millennials share, and yet I've learned you don't always have to choose between location and luxury. See on the rare occasion — or in the case of Kimpton Hotels — you can have both.
Pulling up along SW Broadway in downtown Portland from the I5 North, my legs are cramped from driving and my mind foggy from navigating the complex exit lanes. To my left, a blur of buildings glides past my window as my eyes scan for a sign that reads Hotel Vintage, and then it's there — a beautiful red brick building sandwiched between a restaurant and a neighboring hotel. I have to loop the block twice before I find a spot to park, but once I walk up to the doors I already know the drive was worth it. A doorman greets me as he opens one heavy black door, and I follow along a carpeted path to the front desk to check in.
The decor at first glance is gorgeous. Directly in front of me is a glowing green front desk, where a few patrons are calmly chatting with the staff. To my right, a wall is decorated with artfully-placed wine bottles, a large brown leather sectional at its base by the window. To the left along the back wall is Bacchus Bar, featuring graffiti-inspired art, a modern seating area, and large flat-screen TV. Commanding attention at the center of the room, a large spiral staircase leads up to a games room on the second floor, complete with a pool table, shuffleboard, and video games. I've only just arrived, but already it's exactly as the hotel describes: childhood fantasy with adult execution.
My night at Hotel Vintage lands on a Friday, when the hotel hosts free wine tastings beginning at 5pm and live music takes the stage at six. Tonight the staff serve a white, red, and rosé to guests mingling in the lobby, and I request a rosé to start. Surprisingly (and not in the metaphorical way) the glass is quite full; much larger than I would expect from a tasting. I sip and swirl the wine in the sunbeams of the sectional while watching one guest's Scottish Terrier meet another's Bulldog, and afterwards request a white to compare notes. After concluding that both are equally delicious (I know fairly little about wine), I realize a slight buzz has set in, and I'll need to delay my time testing cocktails at Bacchus bar until after I've had some dinner.
While aware that the hotel itself is home to a well-regarded Italian restaurant, Pazzo Ristorante, I decide to scope out my surroundings. Hotel Vintage is perfectly situated amongst other hotels, restaurants, and shops, and I stop into a few of the latter before finding myself outside Yard House, a chain sports bar with an impressive beer menu. Happy with the options and a little lax after my wine, I settle into a booth for an Ahi Crunchy Salad; an assortment of rare ahi tuna, field greens, asian slaw, crispy wontons, and soy vinaigrette. The dressing to salad ratio seems slightly off, but it's delicious none-the-less, and I enjoy the relaxed atmosphere.
With fresh food in my stomach and the walk back to the hotel having burned off the last of my buzz, I return for my drinks at Bacchus Bar. It's 7pm, and the live music is still going strong, causing a lot of the seats in the lobby lounge area to be occupied. Introducing myself to the Bartender of the eve, Brian, I order the first drink on the menu: the Aviation Aviation. A sophisticated mix of Aviation gin, lemon, Luxardo, sugar, and Creme Yvette, it's somewhat foamy, yet goes down smooth. Happy with my first choice and curious of a second, I revisit Brian and place an order for a Blueberry Thyme Mule. This time, the fragrant concoction is a mix of Absolut vodka, blueberry thyme shrub, sugar, lime, and Fever Tree ginger beer, and it's a refreshing note to end on.
Returning to my room on the 8th floor, I look forward to folding myself in a fluffy robe and drawing a bath. I've been given one of the King Studio Spa Suites, a 425 square-foot specialty suite boasting a king bed, ceiling skylight, ruby red sofa, and two-person soaking tub — and I intend to use it. As it fills, I pour in the complimentary bath salts and grab a bottle of wine from the sitting room to uncork. Pouring a glass, I take a break from the alcohol to drink in the decor.
A large butcher-block desk is across from the bed, where a hand-written note welcomes me to the hotel. An intelligent work of art made out of wine corks hangs on the far wall, and free-hanging bulbs play the part of a bedside lamp. In the washroom, luxury-brand bath products like shampoo, conditioner, and body lotion line the sink, and the stand-up rain shower is enclosed by glass walls and gleaming tiles. Across from that is the tub, and as I dip in my toes, I know I'm in for a treat.
Whether it was the wine, the bath, or the fluffy pillows, I wake from my sleep feeling fully rested. It's 9am, and since check out isn't until 12 I spend some time stretching across the bed, repositioning the velvet pillows, and selecting a movie on the large flat-screen TV. At this point I'm far too comfortable to bother fending for myself, so I give in to my stomach by calling for room service instead. I place an order for a classic breakfast of eggs, hash browns, bacon, and toast, and since it's coming from Pazzo Ristorante I expect it to be good. After a few minutes, a knock on the door, and a swift delivery, I'm not disappointed. I clean off my plate from the luxury of my bed, and I've still got time to spare.
I check out from the hotel just before noon, and thank the staff for their kind and welcoming service. I feel a mix of emotions as I pass through those heavy black doors one last time, as I'm sad to go but still buzzing from my stay. As I exit Portland and aim for the I5 once again, I console myself with a simple reminder: the Kimpton Hotel Vintage isn't going anywhere, and I can always come back again.
Disclaimer: VIVA was a guest of Hotel Vintage, however opinions and comments made by the writer remain unbiased and independent.