Should Portland’s casual airs make you long for a touch of social grace, we suggest you slip into the lobby of the Benson Hotel and head straight to the bar. If the Palm Court's 30-foot-tall molded ceilings and multistoried chandelier dripping with crystal don’t instantly elevate your station, then give the purple-and-gold leopard-spotted banquette a little stroke. Notice the polish on the recently renovated oak bar, the golden tassels on the curtains, the beveled glass that lets light in (but obscures unseemly views of the street). Then call over the most attractive bartender, the one with pomade in his hair and a bow tie worn snugly round his neck, and order a manhattan. Have two while pondering the huge stone urn in the corner and the wall of bottles behind the bar, or that ritzy-looking man with the tan suitcase in the corner (obviously a power player just in from Hollywood for the evening). Ponder long enough, and you might begin to believe that Broadway outside has been transformed into the real thing. What you’ll know for certain is that opulence, thank heaven, is not a thing of the past.
The Palm Court was featured in our 2010 Best Bars cover story.