In other cities—New York or DC, say—luxurious legacy hotels do brisk business with tourists and townies alike. In Portland, not so much. Here, aside from Hotel deLuxe’s storied Driftwood Room, the bars at high-end stalwarts like the Hotel Monaco or the Benson are stodgy, lightly scuffed, and generally devoid of locals.
But there’s a new generation of hotel bars in town: each doubling down on some version of business-class splendor, each aiming to attract a hometown crowd with lifestyle-porn décor and local chef talent. Here’s what you need to know to navigate three of the city’s newest hospitality-backed thirst-traps.
813 SW Alder St.
Bullard, a “smoke-perfumed meat palace” according to PoMo food critic Karen Brooks, is the main course at the months-old Woodlark. But waltz past the hotel lobby monsteras to its grandma-chic tippling parlor, all stiff-backed banquettes (posture, posture!), petunia-festooned walls, and wainscoting. The gender binary here isn’t subtle, for sure. After-work clutches of well-heeled women sip Vesper swizzles and couples settle in for a more casual (better) burger than the one on offer at Bullard: two dry-aged beef patties gloriously adorned and wrapped in gold foil.
920 E Burnside St.
This past fall, potted plants aggressively tickled the pates of guests seated in Hey Love’s marine-blue booths. By spring, the foliage was less showy. Not retreating? The self-conscious cocktails at the tropical drinking den: from pineapple Dole Whip slushies served with vodka and “nostalgia” to a martini with “mini bottle service.” Woe to the weary business traveler looking for a quiet beer; here, it’s tiny, elbow-to-elbow tables, exotica, and #goodtimes.
15 NW Fourth Ave.
The brand-new Hoxton resembles a fortified tower built by Elle Decor and firmly moated by Gus Van Sant grit. For some, luxing out in Old Town might be a hard sell. But the hotel is betting that sleek design, local callouts (PDX makers, former Chalino chef Johnny Leach minding the Mexican-leaning menus), and superlative city views will draw upscale boozers to its airy ninth-floor bar. The east-facing space is bright, vegetal, and tight. On busy nights, you’ll squeeze past patrons to order your tea-spiked pisco-and-rye and a vivid trio of fancy salsas with house tortilla chips. And on any night, you’ll be reminded that some, up here in the stratosphere, really do have it made—even you, on occasion.