The swimming pool at the Hampton Inn Pearl says it all. It has a sober lap pool at one end, and a kids' water play area at the other, complete with tiny slide, torrential bucket and weeping toadstool.
There are few other business hotels in the area. The yellow-clad Residence Inn by Marriott Portland Downtown/Pearl District has a strong line in business travelers, and is just a five-minute walk from Union Station. Many a listicle has been generated trying to name 10 Pearl District hotels. But of the Ace, the Mark Spencer and even McMenamin's Crystal Hotel, none of them are very close to Northwest Glisan and 10th Avenue, which is considered the heart of the Pearl.
"We've actually seen competitors taking out swimming pools to fit in more business amenities like a frequent traveler lounge," says the Hampton Inn Pearl General Manager Pearl Frank Morris. "For us it's important to have offerings that appeal to a wide variety of travelers, which has made our brand so strong."
Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton Portland-Pearl District, to give it its full nomenclature, has its front door along Northwest Ninth Avenue between Flanders and Everett, surrounded by art galleries and restaurants.
Rooms at the 243-room hotel range from $149 to $349 per night. The establishment is inviting to the public, with free coffee in the lobby and ample lounging space. There's a small, open plan business center near the fireplace, under a custom-made sign reading "STAY weird." Guests can help themselves to a free hot breakfast until 10 a.m. and eat it in the lounge at outlet-enabled tables that can double as standing desks.
Morris says the hotel wants to become a magnet for locals and guests, tourists and business travelers alike.
"We partnered with Tanner Creek Tavern so they could give the guests another option of places to go, and the lobby is well-decorated space. We want to activate the lobby area, so it doesn't become black hole of activity. We want to be that next destination."
Because it's an arts district there's art on display, and plans to join in the First Thursday art walk.
The hotel does not have a liquor license, which means no mini bars — alhough unaffiliated Tanner Creek Tavern can provide drinks. They hope guests who want a drink will go to the attached but separately-run full-service restaurant, Tanner Spring Tavern. The restaurant is chefed by David Machado, known for Pazzo Ristorante, Southpark, Lauro Kitchen, Vindalho, Nel Centro and Altabira City Tavern. The latter two are both attached to hotels. Guests are also welcome buy alcohol from the World Market grocery store across the street.
The back side of the hotel faces the North Park Blocks. The park, with its grand trees, is probably better enjoyed from a height, such as a window or the roof deck, which has a green roof and benches made from reclaimed railroad ties.
As in the lobby, the made-from-scratch building features recycled elements such as an old bank vault and some elevator mechanisms. The hall carpet was designed to mimic a winding creek, and every number plate on the doors bears a photo of a local Portland icon, such as the Avalon or the marquee on the Schnitz. Rooms contain art centered on bicycles, trees and rain.
Whether Portland businesses start to use it as a place for off-site meetings will be a crucial test of its popularity. Meeting rooms which seat 10 are available for $500 a day. Again, since there is no kitchen or room service, for anything beyond "a.m. and p.m. breaks" (coffee and pastries) managers encourage using a caterer.
Reporter, The Business Tribune
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