Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Hotel Lucia Has Surprises In Portland

Hotel Lucia
Portland architecture has always been mysterious to me. Much of it is a hodgepodge of old and fresh, historic and modern, classic and period trendy. Some of this is misleading because the city almost always leans new on the inside.

The Hotel Lucia is like that. On the outside, the hotel is a historic landmark of sorts. It was opened as an extension to the Imperial Hotel in about 1908, which sometimes causes confusion because both it and its neighbor, Hotel Vintage Plaza, can make the claim to have been the Imperial Hotel.

But unlike its former parent, which is now owned by Kimpton Hotels, Hotel Lucia made the move toward a more modern interior decor with Provenance Hotels. It happened a little more than ten years ago when another hotel group bought the extension and remodeled it into a standalone 127-room boutique. And the look of it today is punctuated by the work of Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist David Hume Kennerly.

An unassuming stylish stop in the heart of Portland. 

Not everyone knows the name Kennerly, but some people know his work. An Oregon native, he won the 1972 Pulitzer Prize for feature photography for the photos he took in Vietnam.  Of course, these aren't the photos you will see in the hotel.

Instead, they have a collection of prints that include Ansel Adams, Jodie Foster, and Ronald Reagan. Taking them in, it immediately becomes clear that Kennerly had/has a talent for capturing portraits as much as photojournalism and landscapes. In fact, this is one of the reasons he has been given access to so many U.S. presidents, starting with President Richard Nixon.

Hotel Lucia
It is these photographs that also lend well to the look of the hotel. It's hip with a neo-retro look: clean lines from the 1950s, an earthy tone from the 1970s, a spaciousness from the 1990s, and expected upgrades from the 2010s. This might sound more eccentric than it is, but all of it somehow comes together seamlessly.

What else do you need to know? The rooms are smallish, but the beds freakishly comfortable. The staff doesn't exhibit any stuffiness, which reinforces the general feel of casual luxury. And the location, it's nearly perfect.

The nearby attractions are made readily accessible in downtown Portland. 

Many of the best attractions are within relatively easy walking distance of the hotel, which is centered in the heart of the downtown shopping district, five blocks from Pioneer Place Mall, eight blocks from the Portland Center for Performing Arts, and nine blocks from Portland Art Museum.

Add the museum to the must-see list. Opened in 1892, it has amassed more than 40,000 works of art. It frequently attracts international exhibitions and generally had a flair for contemporary art. Just a few years ago, it enlarged specifically for modern art and also includes NW Film Center.

Portland Penny Dinner
In terms of shopping, the two most notable stops (besides Nordstrom) are the Pearl District and Powell's Books. The Pearl District because it is the best known arts and culture hub in Portland and has been since the 1990s. If you happen to be visiting during the first Thursday of the month, sign up for the gallery walk via First Thursday. Powell's Books also deserves some time as one of the largest independent book stores in the United States. Make sure to check for upcoming events before you visit.

In addition to shopping and other nearby sights like the Japanese Gardens and Museum of Science And Industry (home of Mythbusters), Hotel Lucia is has plenty of dining options nearby. Both of its restaurants — Imperial and Portland Penny Dinner — are operated by acclaimed chefs Vitaly Paley and Benjamin Bettinger. Make it a point to have a breakfast sandwich at least once at the Portland Penny Dinner.

Hotel Lucia Makes More Of Downtown Portland With 7.1 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

While not as playful as its sister hotel, Hotel Deluxe, Hotel Lucia is a perfect location for anyone who wants to take in more of downtown Portland. The room rates are reasonable, the staff is friendly, and the packages are frequent. The only price for staying so close to everything is that some rooms pick up the sounds of Portland nightlife (but only if you aren't part of it).

Portland itself is especially cool in the summer (temperatures rarely reach 80). The summer months also see a little less rain than other other seasons. For hotel and airfare comparisons, start with the top travel deals at Expedia.com. Portland is frequently discounted and was named by some travel sites as one of the best destinations last year.
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