The Rose City Sparkles at Portland’s The Nines
Photos courtesy of The Nines, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Portland
Guest rooms at The Nines, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Portland, feel like tufted jewelry boxes. Shades of linen white and tiffany blue dominate the room, which is otherwise decorated in clean lines and patterned wallpaper. Beds appear to float like clouds in the center of the room, perhaps owing to the pillowy white leather headboard accents.
Bathrooms have showers with eco-friendly pumps dispensing BeeKind products, and sinks have suede vanity stools in the same Tiffany blue. The powder rooms are generously sized and well apportioned for dressing, although the lack of extras (cotton swabs, mouthwash, etc.) typically present in other luxury brands is apparent, as is the lack of in-room coffee, although that’s easily gotten from the lobby during most hours of the day.
Speaking of the lobby, it sits beneath a large atrium that belies the structure’s original use as the upper floors of the Meier & Frank department store (the lower floors are still in use, although the once-local department store’s name has fallen to the irrepressible Macy’s expansion march). The building is steeped in history. Constructed in 1909 and hailed as the largest retailer west of the Mississippi, it was once the place of employment for Hollywood legend Clark Gable.
A first impression of the hotel’s public spaces on a Friday night would indicate that the hotel is a vibrant center of the Rose City’s nightlife – it seems there’s noise and traffic everywhere—from the elevators where confused guests and restaurant patrons struggle to find the correct floor to the small and suddenly congested sky lobby that houses reception and the hotel’s signature steakhouse Urban Farmer.
The night I visited it felt like the whole city was there to party, and if that one Friday evening is any indication, it appears that vibrant nightlife is the theme on order for the hotel, something to consider when booking, as many rooms overlook the central atrium. It seems as though the hotel has taken steps to mitigate the noise, as there are large fire doors blocking the open balconies to the atrium on each level, which also serves as a sound wall, proofing the corridors from the melee below.
Front desk activities varied between rote and hurried (on account of the line) and sublime perfection—the agent with whom I checked out of my room in the deserted lobby just before 5 the following morning was a line ahead of me each step of the way, suggesting the coffee setup in the lobby before I could ask, offering me nearly all the dollar bills in her cash drawer as change when I requested at least ten singles as part of change from $20, and offering directions or assistance with transportation before I had considered it.
The Club Lounge is a quiet oasis for guests booking that level of accommodation, and the dessert presentation in the late evening was small but artful and delicious. Opening hours for each of the food and beverage presentations seemed truncated and not particularly convenient (you won’t get breakfast before 7 a.m. any day of the week; happy hour and dessert presentations are available but two hours each evening) but well executed when open.
The Nines is ultimately a reflection of the city it holds a prime position in—storied history turned self-consciously contemporary, notably art-worthy in its appointments if somewhat uneven in personality and tone. All-in-all, this is a fine, distinctive luxury property with plenty to impress, and it impresses in all the same ways as the Rose City itself.
Instagrammable moment: Virtually every angle in the beautifully appointed guest rooms
Pro Tip: Atrium rooms may be above lively restaurant and event happenings; outside rooms may be more tranquil.
The Damage: They vary wildly on season and availability, but during the off-peak I’ve seen rates from the low $300s.
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