Our Portland AirBnB

When we were in Portland last July, there were several conventions and events happening city-wide so we couldn’t find any affordable hotel rooms. Enter Airbnb! We had used the site once in the past, when we stayed in Denver, so we knew it was easy to book a stylish, comfortable place.

The place we stayed in was a basement-level apartment north of the Alberta Arts district. I like the idea of an Airbnb most when the rental is within or attached to (but still separate) from someone’s home. This place, called Peaceful Retreat, was just that. Very peaceful with a monochromatic color scheme. The couple that owns the home are both designers, and you can tell.

Portland AirBnB

Portland AirBnB

I loved the cozy accessories. If we were there longer I would have liked to take better advantage of the sound system, games, and kitchen.

Portland AirBnB

Portland AirBnBl

Portland AirBnB

We weren’t downtown like we were last time, but since we had always intended on renting a car anyway, it was nice to be in a quiet part of town. I like taking advantage of Airbnb especially to check out cool neighborhoods in big cities that don’t really have a large hotel presence. If you have a trip coming up, possibly during the holidays, keep one of these vacation rentals in mind especially as hotels may have filled up! If you haven’t joined Airbnb yet, here’s my referral link, which will give me a little somethin’ somethin’ for recommending you. ;)

Disclosure: I was not asked by Airbnb to write this review (they have no idea who I am), but if you use my code to join, I get a credit to my account. 


Portland, Oregon: 2015

Crazily enough, Doug and I found ourselves in Portland, Oregon just 52 weeks after our 2014 visit. Again, for the wedding of a close friend from college days in Kansas. Life is funny sometimes, isn’t it?

keep portland weird small

We had the privilege of being invited to three weddings in May and June, and vacation days were quickly being eaten away. For this reason, we made a trip to Portland and back, Saturday/Sunday, in about 36 hours! Alaska Airlines, the company I have my rewards credit card through, offers an annual free/discounted “Companion Fare” to members so we only had to buy one flight (plus fees). Not bad! There were like five different events in Portland that weekend and hotel prices were skyrocketing so instead of staying at the Portland Ace like last time, we ended up at an AirBnB which we loved. (It will get its own post.)

The first thing we did after getting off the plane (other than getting our rental car; we haven’t braved Portland public transit yet) was to get food. Our flight left San Diego around 6 and landed in Portland around 8 or 8:30… and we were hungry! Luckily our AirBnB hosts had already e-mailed us a fun list of places to eat in their neighborhood so we chose one and were not disappointed. We ate at Helser’s on Alberta. If you watch Portlandia, you’ll remember an episode where the line for brunch stretches on for several miles. We were lucky enough to beat the 9am rush; but a line did form as we had our meal.

Helsers 2 small

helsers 1 small

June was the month I decided to go 30 days gluten-free, and I thought that Portland would be a gluten-free utopia. Not so! Most restaurants had a few things marked with an asterisk on the menu, but not as many as I’d assumed. I was still able to enjoy delicious meals, though. Above, a yummy chorizo-potato hash with Tillamook cheddar cheese.

We stayed a little bit north of the up-and-coming Alberta Arts District. Last year, we stumbled across this area and so this time we were happy to explore it (as opposed to The Pearl District where we stayed/explored last time).

Alberta Arts District

Alberta Arts District

Alberta Arts District

The wedding itself was in the nearby town of Woodburn. I changed into my “wedding clothes” and put my makeup on at the Woodburn outlet mall. #improvising! The wedding venue was at a really pretty historic house, The Settlemier House. It was awesome! It reminded me of something from Gilmore Girls, which my friend (who got married) and I bonded over in college. So, all in all it was very appropriate. ;)

Settlemier House

The following morning we had breakfast at a gluten-free bakery called Tula, and drove all over the city window-shopping. I like how Portland seems big and small at the same time. Each neighborhood is totally walk-able, but to get from one side of town to the other in a car is also a breeze! (This conflicts with some reports I recently saw about Portland having terrible traffic. We must have missed rush hours!)

Tula Bakery

I have a number of friends up in the area and considering how our trip was so short, I just made a facebook event and suggested that we all meet at lunch at the same place at the same time. Some friends weren’t able to make it, but some were, and we had a great lunch together. I think it went really well considering the fact that Doug and I just dragged a bunch of strangers together to share a meal. I enjoyed it so much I just might pull the stunt again sometime!

Near Kennedy School

McMenamins Kennedy School

We all had lunch at McMenamins’ Kennedy School, which is an actual elementary school turned hotel, restaurant, bar, and art cinema. What a great idea–turning a decommissioned building into something so creative! It was a good place for a somewhat large group. The food was super reasonably priced and the large location was so fascinating to explore while waiting for others to arrive. The bathrooms are simply the old school bathrooms! It was like being in a time warp…

Portland Sign

This summer certainly was the year of quick weekend trips. I feel so fortunate to have had the chance to see so many of our loved ones, but it did leave me feeling pretty exhausted! I think that next year I am definitely going to take a week-long trip (take all my vacation days at once) instead of taking a Friday here, a Monday there. I think it will help recharge my batteries better. However,  I sure did love feeling like a jet-setter all summer!  Now I’m ready for fall!

The Ace Hotel Portland

The Portland Ace! If you are an avid a follower of All The Blogs like I am, the Ace will be old hat to you by now. Of course, the Palm Springs Ace is (possibly) the most famous, but Portland was the first, and the minute I found out we were headed to Portland, I begged for a brief stay.

Ace Hotel Portland

Staying at a good hotel has been a priority of mine for a while. No funky smells and no creepy desk employees– very important. Located in a good part of town, with cool amenities (we loved the Saguaro in Palm Springs and The Moonrise in St Louis for the aforementioned reasons) really make the experience worth the extra cost due to saved time and overall enjoyment factor.

Although, I’m a sucker for a free continental breakfast. Something not offered at fancy-schmancy places. Sad face.

We left the wedding reception a bit late, drove an hour, then checked in at The Ace after dark. Even so, I enforced my crazy blogger “put your luggage down and don’t touch anything” rule so I could snap the room before settling in. The photos are a bit grainy since they were taken at night.

Ace Hotel Portland

Holy sliding wood panel, Batman. The barn-door style panel closed over the window, and was a nice touch. Blocked out the light and a lot of the sound. Enhanced the cool factor. Slid smoothly. I also soaked in the antique-style moldings and appreciated the wallpaper made from dictionary pages. Staying in creative places is so inspiring–I found a lot of ideas I’d like to emulate in our own home!

Ace Hotel Portland

Ace Hotel Portland

Small details were appreciated, like the sweets provided at check in (above right) and the extensive snack and drink options. Against our better judgement (I know it would have been cheaper elsewhere) we very thoroughly enjoyed the spring water, corn chips, and salsa.

Here’s the irrational part (we humans tend to be irrational beings). We paid the associated price for having a “cool” hotel, but didn’t even have our own bathroom in the room. Say what?

Ace Hotel Portland

We had a little sink area, perfect for washing up, brushing teeth, putting on and taking off makeup, etc, but the real bathroom part was two doors down and shared by the rooms near us. It was strange, but surprisingly easy to get used to. The shower was super luxurious and I never had to, well, wait in line or anything to use the facilities. What a revolutionary concept! Or, should I say, a throwback concept–the building was really old and this is probably how most hotels used to be, and possibly still are in many parts of the world. Definitely a first for me (barring Hostels) but did not diminish my stay!

The more I thought about it, the more convinced I became that the old loft in Kansas we used to live in was at one point a hotel in this style. In that apartment, each room had a doorway accessing the hallway, and each room was about the same size (if not larger) than the room we stayed in. Epiphanies all over the place!

Of course, we were in one of the cheapest rooms at the Ace. Spend more, get your own bathroom. Such is life.

Ace Hotel Portland

Monday morning we finally got to snag a spot (and a photo) in the iconic (and normally packed) lobby. Adjacent Stumptown Roasters does not have any tables or anything to sit at and enjoy their coffee, so patrons usually relax here. Of course we took some photos in the old-style photobooth as well, which I assume is an Ace staple since the locations in Palm Springs and Downtown Los Angeles have the same thing.

I was about ready to move in permanently! Cool location, cool decor, comfortable bed… and cable? Yeah, I so could have moved in permanently. Highly recommended.

Need a recommendation for where to stay? Check out my Your Turn section.