Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Checking In: Hotel Monaco - Portland, Oregon

My best friend from high school lives in Vancouver and I live in Los Angeles. We started to plot a girls getaway this summer and narrowed it down three cities: LA, Vegas and Portland. Since Portland was the only city we both haven't been to - it won! So off we went for the weekend. If it's your first time visiting Portland, I've compiled a Portland Travel Guide for newbies like myself. It's an easy city to navigate and walking, biking or using public transit is incredibly straightforward, that I don't think you would really need to rent a car.
The most important part of our trip was finding a hip and centrally located boutique hotel. Enter Hotel Monaco, a quirky home base in the middle of everything. What we splurged on in room rate, we saved in time and cab fares - walking easily to all the major things we wanted to do during our weekend visit. 
Hotel Monaco even sent us a companion goldfish (available upon request) for the duration of our stay and housekeeping made sure it was fed. Make sure to peek into your closet upon arrival and slip into their hilarious zebra + leopard print bathrobes (see above). Meow! To start your visit off right, I recommend ordering a hand-bottled carbonated cocktail from the Red Star Tavern & Roast House downstairs.
My Monaco Queen Suite was spacious enough for my girls getaway. Our room was around 550 sq ft with two queen pillowtop beds, Italian Frette linens and French doors that open up to a cute little living room with a queen sleeper sofa and TWO flat screen TVs. This one-bedroom suite was perfect because I'm an early-riser when I'm on vacation, so I could turn on the lights and putter about without waking up my bestie. Check out the amazing carpet and bird wallpaper above!

I really enjoyed the Hotel Monaco's quirky decor. It never once felt like a cookie-cutter chain that you would find in Anytown, USA. I loved the 'duck legs' lamp, the over-the-top headboard, plaid pillows and retro lighting fixtures throughout. Each suite comes equipped with a full mini-bar should you have a late-night craving.
If you're a Kimpton InTouch Loyalty Club member, your room automatically comes with a $10 mini-bar credit and free internet! It's free to join, so I definitely recommend doing so before visiting.

Complimentary Wine Hour - Kimpton Wine Hour is LEGENDARY. Whenever I mentioned that I was staying at a Kimpton to someone, the next thing out of their mouth was, "Oooooohhh they have FREE wine!" Hey - I'm a grown woman who can pay for her own wine, but I'm not going to say no to complimentary wine (and beer) and a chance to meet other people from out-of-town. So what's the catch? There is NO catch, just a bowl of goldfish crackers to go with ALL that wine. However a suggested donation of $2 to support a local charity is appreciated. 
Hotel Monaco's wine hour runs from 5-6 pm in the main lobby and at 4:55 pm the elevator practically stops on every floor because everyone is headed to wine hour. Make sure to look for hotel dog Timmy - he won't be paying attention to you, he'll be sniffing around for dropped food or goldfish crackers....too cute!
Borrow a Bike! - So you've gorged yourself on all the delicious beer, free wine and food cart eats that one can possibly stuff into their stomach over a weekend. What to do? Borrow a bike! They are complimentary from the hotel and a small charitable donation is suggested. I LOVE when boutique hotels offer this service - it really forces me to get out and get active, especially when the bikes are parked right in their garage with helmets and all. Just make sure to sign one out early as they are first-come, first-served.
Once you're free-wheeling in one of the most bikeable cities in America, make sure to head straight to the waterfront trail for a loop around the river. DO check the weather during your visit and pick out the best date ahead of time for your bike ride. The weather can be rainy and often unpredictable so dress accordingly.
Shop it Out - Oregon is a tax-free shopping state. Which means 0% sales tax on everything you buy. If you're planning a big iPhone or laptop purchase, you may just want to save it for your visit to Portland.
With my bestie from high school - Katie
I really felt like I only scratched the surface of Portland and a long weekend just wasn't enough! I'm already planning for my next trip back in April and hope to definitely stay for longer and hit all the sites that were on my list. Until next time Portland!

Hotel Monaco - Portland
506 S.W. Washington Street 
Portland, OR 97204
(503) 222-0001

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