The Portland alternative to a Holiday Inn

When you travel, there always seems to be one experience that brings the entire trip together. Not necessarily an “ah ha” moment when the planets align, but that experience which makes you think, ‘I understand this place.’

There are 100 things I could list about Portland to explain why it’s one of my favorite cities in America,  but it’s a hotel that made me think, I understand this place.

Located just 15 minutes from downtown Portland in Troutdale, Oregon stands McMenamins – Edgefield, a whimsical hotel/resort unlike any lodging facility I’ve ever stayed at.

The McMenamin family has seven hotels throughout Oregon and one in Washington. The concept? Restore old buildings and make them thematically cool. There’s the Kennedy School, a restored elementary school where the guest rooms retain their original chalkboard. There’s the White Eagle, a restored 1905 pub with lodging on the upper level and live music on the main floor every night of the week. But if you are looking for the most unique of the McMenamin hotel concept, McMenamin’s – Edgefield is the grand lady.

Edgefield was originally built as a poor farm and provided food and shelter to the residents for over 70 years. In its next life, Edgefield served as a nursing home and rehabilitation facility until it was abandoned in 1982. The main house and farm buildings began to rot and were vandalized. But thanks to the McMenamin brothers, Portland pub owners who had a vision for an artistic community with lodging rooms, the Edgefield property was saved and began to take shape in the 1990s.

When I arrived at Edgefield, grapevines in the front of the main lodge were the first thing I noticed. Then the playful signs, the 1930s farm houses and gently restored sheds. The guest room husband and I had was located in one of the farm houses, and we shared the house with about six other couples, each having their own private room. Never one to mind a shared bathroom, it was quaint and clean.

So what do you do at a typical resort? Hit the spa? Edgefield has one but I did not partake. Play golf? Yup, there are two par-3 courses. But what most resorts don’t have, Edgefield does. Live concert venue? Check. Movie theater? Check. Brewery? Check. Winery? Check. Restaurants and bars abound like any resort, but only Edgefield has converted the original ice house into psychedelic Grateful Dead bar.

McMenamin’s – Edgefield is a great stopping point for couples or a place to gather friends and hang out for the weekend. You never need to leave the grounds if you don’t want to. But if you stay at Edgefield, I do recommend you try several of Portland’s restaurants, see the sights, visit a few breweries and and check out night scene. When you come back to Edgefield to see a concert, listen to the Irish fiddle player on the lawn or catch a independent movie in the theater you might think, ‘I understand this place.’