You're a Portlander. So chances are, you don't have a pool. You probably don't have a friend with a pool. You don't live close to one of Portland Parks & Rec's public pools, or if you do you don't have the time to wait in line before open swim starts so you can get in before the pool's at capacity, or wait in line afterward for enough people to leave so you can enter. And while you love the Willamette and the Columbia, with the high water warnings this summer you just don't feel like jumping in the river.
You're a Portlander, but maybe it's time to pretend you're not from here—and treat yourself to a hotel with an outdoor pool. Bonus: AC, cable TV that might seem positively exotic to modern youth used to streaming services, and a chance to explore a part of town that isn't your regular stomping ground. While we're suckers for a backyard hot tub and we love the open-all-year, warm, mellow, drink-in-hand soaking pools at McMenamins Edgefield and the Kennedy School, that's not what we're in the mood for when it's hot out. Here are a few places where we wouldn't mind taking a summer splash staycation.
Most downtown hotels that have pools hide them indoors—a wise move in our climate, perhaps, and much appreciated in the off-season. But in summer we want at least the option of letting ourselves get hot in the sun and then leaping in to refresh. At nine feet in the deep end, this is the pool for that. Expect your neighboring lounge chairs to be filled by international travelers, students' families, people with business at nearby OHSU or Doernbecher Children's Hospital, or someone attending a Rubik's Cube function in the hotel's event space. Flesh out a staycation with streetcar rides and dinner at Duck House.
I've passed by this hotel for years on I-205 and always gotten airport hotel vibes, like it was a place to have an affair or set a play you had to write during your junior year of college. (Freshman year, you set your play at the Unicorn on 82nd, and sophomore year it's at the Benson.) I did not imagine a glorious irregular-hexagon pool steps from a Prohibition-themed bar, as well as a hotel restaurant that doubles as a venue for many of the city's most revered longtime jazz performers and boasts an impressive, well-shaded pandemic-era parking-lot patio. Book a room here (like all the places on this list, the pool is for hotel guests only), pack your swimsuit, and then sit by the pool and overhear business travelers and visiting judges for the Canby dog show. When you're all swimmed out, the many entertainments of the Clackamas Town Center are a short walk away.
Not to be confused with the Holiday Inn Express at Jantzen Beach—which also sits on Hayden Island overlooking the Columbia River, but on the west side of I-5 next to the empty lot where the old Thunderbird Hotel, which was a Red Lion for a while, burned down in 2012—this Holiday Inn sits just east of I-5 and, confusingly, also used to be a Red Lion. It's a launch point for American Cruise Lines' Columbia River tours, so you might be swimming with older couples fresh from the airport who are excited to cruise to Astoria or through the Gorge the next morning. A ring of towering evergreens and view of the river and the Interstate Bridge make the pool here one of the most picturesque in town. Of course, it's not quite as impressive as the old 100-by-165-foot bathing pool with a sandy beach seen by the lobby in one of the huge black-and-white photos of the old Jantzen Beach Amusement Park. Need a cover-up? You can mosey over to the shopping center that's where the amusement park used to be, or buy a souvenir "Hayden Island, Oregon, est. 1851" T-shirt at the hotel's front desk for $30.
Just steps from downtown Lake O, the ’40s-era Lake Theater cinema, and Stickmen Brewing, this cozy roadside inn is getting a revamp in the coming years, we're told. But for now it's a simple, quaint spot for business travelers and folks visiting local family. If you don't land a room with a deck and a view of Lakewood Bay, you can spend most of your stay enjoying that view anyway, from a poolside chaise in between dips in the 84-degree little kidney-bean-shaped pool. (You might fancy a dip in the lake, but signs on the pool deck sternly ban swimming there.)
Next to Clackamette Park just off I-205, this Oregon City Best Western has a mom-and-pop feel despite its several stories in height. Popular with families, older couples, and wedding guests headed to toast their pals at the nearby Abernethy Center, it boasts river views for most of its rooms, but from the rooftop pool the view is just of the shopping center across 99E. No matter, since we're just here for the splashing, and for the proximity to Oregon City's many charms, including the Highland Stillhouse, the municipal elevator, the smartly renovated Carnegie library, and the lovely walks and hikes.
This massive convention hotel, with 15 floors and multiple glass elevators, has a good-size pool with a nine-foot deep end. Surrounded by the building on all but the east side, though, it's not the sunniest pool in town, so if you're after some sun you'll want to get your swimming in early and then spend the rest of your staycation touring the not-dead-yet Lloyd Mall (the closing of Nordstrom was but a scratch, the loss of Macy's just a flesh wound ...), chowing down at Frank's Noodle House, and catching a game at the Sports Bra.
These hotels are largely transit accessible with interesting places in walking distance, but they're far from the only hotels in town with outdoor pools—you'll find a lot near the airport, too (Aloft and the Best Western Pony Soldier, for example) and in the western suburbs (like the Homewood Suites in Beaverton or Quality Inn in Tigard). Hours and seasonality can vary, but we're pretty sure the "no horseplay" rule is always in effect. At least one of these pools even has a "no jam boxes" rule on its sign, in case any guests are toting one of those and a stack of tapes.