No matter how many times I’ve visited Portland, Oregon, there always seems to be a corner of the city that I’ve managed to leave unexplored.
Hotel DeLuxe is a stately, welcoming hotel with easy downtown access — the MAX Line, Pearl District and popular NW 23rd neighbourhood are all close by.
Throughout, the 130-room hotel celebrates Hollywood’s Golden era as black and white photos recall classic films along with a richly-adorned hotel lobby containing gold-accented moulding and beautiful Czech chandeliers personally selected by former owner Albert Gentner in former Czechoslovakia.
This property was originally christened the Hotel Mallory upon its opening in 1912, taking its name from New Yorker Rufus Mallory who served as a US Congressman, U.S. Attorney for Oregon as well as a founding member of the Oregon Bar Association.
The Mallory became a favourite spot to call home for Central Oregonians who’d make their way across the Cascades to enjoy shopping and culture.
Prominent guests at The Mallory included Bob Hope, Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell and James Beard. One eccentric guest even brought their pet jaguar to the hotel, walking it down the lobby on a leash and muzzle (I can imagine this sight would have evoked more than a few jaw-dropping reactions)!
DeLuxe’s current Screening Room was once the Crystal Ballroom, complete with grand piano and orchestra pit. In the late 1940’s the Mallory received its final remodel including the iconic Driftwood Room (added in the late 1950’s when Oregonians voted to allow liquor sales in bars).
The hotel became the property of Provenance Hotels in 2004 and reopened two years later following an extensive renovation, its name inspired by the Hollywood colour lab Deluxe. Gracie’s Restaurant is an ode to Gracie Allen.
Elevators are richly lined with abalone and nearly 40 layers of black lacquer. Curious LED-lit mirrors on each floor are designed by Portland artist Dardinelle Troen.
Each floor is based on a different cinematic theme, from Alfred Hitchcock to Gene Kelly, Judy Garland and Ginger Rogers; no two rooms are alike.
The rooms are beautifully adorned with light yellow walls complemented by two-tone green floor-to-ceiling curtains, wooden furnishings, a glass trolley with local coffee and tea and more movie stills to tie in the hotel theme.
The clock radio is retro in style; tech-friendly ports are located in a few spots around the room.
The glass light fixtures are in a classic Art Deco style as are the ceiling fixtures in the main room and bathroom.
I like that the bathroom has lots of towel racks and hooks to help conserve on hotel washing. In fact, for each day you opt to skip on housekeeping, you’ll get a $5 credit for spending in either Gracie’s or on room service.
Another fun perk: Salt & Straw ice cream can be delivered straight to your room by simply pressing the “Make It So” button on the guest room phone. For $12, a pint of sorbet or handcrafted ice cream (e.g. Pear with Blue Cheese, Almond Brittle with Salted Ganache) can be yours.
Comfy beds are nestled in a luxurious leather headboard with two sides, creating a shrine to sleep. I always sleep better with a window open — the desk window makes that possible.
The mattress is supportive and a pillow menu is but a phone call away. In the mood for some tunes while you’re here? There’s even an iPod loaning service loaded up with everything from swinging jazz to “Bands That Keep Portland Weird”.
Other hotel amenities include a fitness room, guest business center and a spiritual menu (a collection of guides from Bhagavad Gita to The Torah by way of the Make It So button).
With an eye on locally-sourced, regional ingredients, Gracie’s offers daily brunch, high tea and dinner.
I enjoyed a hearty bowl of Bob’s Redmill Oats (made right here in Oregon) with dried cranberries, brown sugar and local hazelnuts together with a fresh fruit bowl and poached eggs alongside a pot of Steven Smith tea. The local tea producer has created a couple of tea blends for the hotel’s afternoon high tea: Provenance Black and Green DeLuxe.
While the former has notes of green jasmine, the latter is a classic green with four types of floral notes for a soft finish to the palate.
But here’s what I really appreciate about dining at Gracie’s: TV sets with the incessant drone of morning news (common in all too many breakfast rooms and restaurants) are replaced by classic jazz, blues and swing music — a smart (and humane) way to greet the day.
The hotel’s well-known Driftwood Room is open for small bites and happy hour, with an extensive list of crafted cocktails from 2 pm to late.
Hotel DeLuxe forms part of the Provenance Hotels collection, recognized for their innovative, unique collection of full-service boutique hotels. The friendly, helpful staff took care to ensure that I enjoyed the best experience possible during my time in Portland.
I left with my batteries recharged and a brief return to a simpler era – with images of Clark Gable, Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini serving as visual souvenirs.
Find the DeLuxe at 729 SW 15th Avenue in Portland’s Goose Hollow neighbourhood. I was a guest of Hotel DeLuxe via Travel Portland. Opinions, as always, are my own.