Content originally written for the Let’s Go: USA & Canada Guide by our researcher-writer, Graham Bishai.
The Society Hotel
203 NW 3rd Ave; (503) 445-0444; www.thesocietyhotel.com
Occupying one of the oldest buildings in Portland, this newly-revitalized space brings a modern hipster feel to an old, once-forgotten building in the heart of Portland’s Chinatown. For decades it was a vacant decaying building, and hipsters—as they do—saved not just the day, but the world. Now it is a vibrant historic-chic stay, steps from the city’s best nightlife. It is best classified as an upmarket hostel, but if you’re looking for a space of your own, it’s got private room offerings nearly at par with hotels and is hard to beat for the price. If you’re down to share, roughly fifty bucks will get you a bunk with a shared bathroom (one that is cleaned every hour). A rooftop deck looks out over the city, with tons of sitting space to socialize, relax, or sit in the sun. In the lobby, the Society Café, a coffee shop with food and a bar offers bites to eat from 7am-11pm.
Dorms from $49, privates from $89; reservation recommended; BGLTQ+ friendly; wheelchair accessible; Wi-Fi; linens, toiletries included
Hostelling International Portland Hawthorne
3031 SE Hawthorne Blvd.; (503) 236-3380; www.hihostels.com/hostels/hi-portland-hawthorne-hostel; reception open 8am-10pm
Cozy up and quiet down in this hostel. If you’re looking for serenity in your place of stay, you’ll feel right at home when the flowering gardens in the front yard welcome you in. Chairs out on the front veranda give you plenty of space to spread out and relax. Here, right on Hawthorne Street, home to some of Portland’s best restaurants and shops, you won’t be bored when you’re ready to get going again. There’s a weekly dinner night, and a Thursday night brewery crawl. The place is substance-free, minus the happy hour on Friday evenings, so if you care to imbibe or inhale, do so beyond the area of the hostel.
Dorms from $37, privates from $68; reservation recommended; max stay 7 nights; BGLTQ+ friendly; wheelchair accessible; Wi-Fi; linens, coin-operated laundry, breakfast included; 24hr cancellation policy
Lan Su Chinese Gardens
239 NW Everett St.; (503) 228-8131; www.lansugarden.org; open daily Mar 15-Oct 31 10am-7pm; open daily Nov 1-Mar 14 10am-4pm
Nestled in a city block sits this authentic Chinese garden, complete with ponds, fountains, and traditional structures. Kick off your shoes if you like, walk along the paths, and wonder at the architecture and decor in each building along the way. Find the Chinese fortune sticks and see what’s on your horizon. You could have a lot of wealth coming your way and not even know about it! Sip a cup of tea in the tea garden, watch the koi swim past, and breathe deeply.
Admission $10, students $7; tours daily 11am, 12pm and 1pm; limited wheelchair accessibility; teahouse inside
Graham left behind the stressed-out chaos of Cambridge for the laid back life on the West Coast. A refreshing change of pace, he assumed, until the line for coffee on his first morning took 2 mins longer than he’s used to, and the Northeast nasty jumped out. Starting in Vancouver, Graham meandered south, toning his calves being a pedestrian on San Francisco’s hills and by navigating the monstrosity that is Los Angeles using just his feet and public transit (only resorting to Uber twice!) Graham’s love for the West Coast life only increased as he sat by the Puget Sound in Seattle, sipped kombucha in the crunchy cafes of Portland, climbed into a waterfall in Yosemite and stayed in an abandoned opera house in Death Valley. By the time he hit upper 80s sun of San Diego, buff calves and sun tanned, the words “West Coast, Best Coast,” almost slipped out of his mouth. Identity crisis looming, he figured it was time to go home.