Portland
National Geographic Traveller (UK)|December 2021
Never afraid to do things differently, the Oregon city is a cradle of American counterculture. Its quirky spirit is no clearer than in its eclectic hotel offerings, from a former school to a reputedly haunted pub.

Portland flies its freak flag high: a kilt-clad, bagpipe-playing unicyclist in a Darth Vader mask regularly cruises the city; the World Naked Bike Ride is held here annually; and local ice cream brand Salt & Straw turned heads with its bone marrow flavour. Some might argue, however, that the droves moving here for the left-of-center lifestyle are unwittingly changing the city's identity: cranes now dot the skyline and glass buildings sit beside historic gems. But the truth is that visitors after Portland's alternative edge needn't look too hard. Fresh dining areas have popped up, cheerful murals grace the streets and hotels have reopened to brisk business. The best are found west of the Willamette River, in and around bustling downtown. Central Eastside, meanwhile, has an array of up-and-coming bars, restaurants and craft breweries, and Northeast Portland offers good options, too, mostly around the bohemian Alberta Arts District and family-friendly parks.

Best for night owls

THE HOXTON

Located at the ornate gates of Chinatown, one of the city's most exciting neighbourhoods, the Oregon outpost of the London group is an oasis of 1960s calm.

Even the largest Roomy' rooms are small by American standards, but if you're catching a gig at nearby Dante's or cabaret at Darcelle XV, the comfy bed, stylish bathroom, custom-made furniture and local art on the walls make a cosy space to sleep it off.

Start the night at the onsite Tope rooftop bar for tacos and cocktails with sunset views over Mount Hood. There's excellent coffee downstairs in the morning and you're just a few bus stops away from Washington Park and Forest Park. Alternatively, relax with a book from the in-house selection, curated by local creatives.

ROOMS: From $158 (£114). thehoxton.com

Best for the eco-conscious

KEX

Bringing the Iceland-based brand's ethos to Portland, Kex will have keen upcyclers oohing and aahing in awe. The herringbone floor of Nordic-style restaurant Dóttir is made from reclaimed wood, while the overhead lights were salvaged from an old Belgian cinema. Spaces are styled with a quirky but classy mix of knick-knacks.

Don't miss the rooftop bar, surrounded by the modern high-rises of Central Eastside, a neighbourhood that feels as youthful and stylish as the hotel itself.

ROOMS: From $152 (£110). kexhotels.com

Best for social butterflies

THE SOCIETY HOTEL

With the reception housed in a lively cafe and bar, the scene is set: come in to meet and mingle. Spacious dorm rooms have three-level bunks with all the creature comforts, including memory foam mattresses, heavy-duty privacy curtains and power outlets.

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