Chels and I have toyed around with the idea of putting up occasional posts under the heading “Catz on the Move” (inside joke of sorts) to do little reviews of restaurants, hotels, and family activities. Realistically, we don’t travel that much, so the hotel reviews would be pretty few and far between (we’d like to change that!), but we could probably field an opinion on the occasional restaurant, etc.
Well, very recently, we had the opportunity to get away overnight to celebrate our eleventh wedding anniversary. It was the first time we’d gone away from the kids overnight in seven years (Hey, we’re not complaining – we like our kids! Also, they had gone away from us – we just hadn’t gone away from them…), so I wanted it to be special, even if it was just here in Portland (we live in a suburb about 10 miles southeast of the city). Unfortunately, the weekend our anniversary fell on happened to be a very popular weekend in downtown Portland, and I was seeing hotel room prices above $500/night for a decent room. A small room sans balcony, jacuzzi tub, etc, could be had for around $300, and I was about ready to just do that when I came across a little hotel about two miles south of downtown called the River’s Edge Hotel & Spa.
The hotel is situated in an area I know well. Previously a largely commercial space, Portland’s South Waterfront has recently begun to be built up with high-rise condos, a few restaurants, and a streetcar, among other things. At the moment, though, it’s still a bit of an uncomfortable mix of commercial office space and leisure / living establishments. That being said, it’s a very pleasant area – far enough out of downtown to be quiet and easier to get around in, but not so far that it takes more than five minutes to be in the heart of the city. In fact, a popular biking / jogging path connects the South Waterfront to downtown, which is not a bad way to make the trek during the summer months. Most of all, though, it’s still right on the river, as the name implies.
As it happens, the River’s Edge was previously called the Avalon. I’m not sure what prompted the name change and the remodel, but it’s a beautiful facility now. The exterior is trendy but unassuming, exuding relaxation. The lobby and public areas are much the same way – modern, but not cold; upscale, but not ostentatious or pretentious. The key piece for me, as you might have guessed, was discovering that being two miles out of downtown meant my money went a lot further. While I believe the standard room price is around $160-180/night, I saw specials frequently in the $130 range. There are about seven or eight different types of rooms (suites, river view, hillside view, etc), but after seeing the prices downtown, I decided to go all out and grab the “Deluxe Riverside Suite,” on the top (fifth) floor. Getting what was for all intents and purposes this hotel’s “penthouse suite” for the price of a standard room downtown made my day, and was just the sort of special flair I was looking for for this night out.
AMENITIES: The hotel features a enormous spa in the front of the building, and I’m sure it’s very nice, but it’s clothing optional and gender-segregated, so not exactly what we were looking for on our anniversary evening. It does have free coffee essentially all the time, which was great for me! The only parking available is valet, which normally runs $25/night. Because we booked through Orbitz, the parking was complimentary, and we also received 20% off at the adjoining restaurant, “Aquariva” (which I may write about later…). Our room was huge, over 1000 square feet, with a kitchen, wet bar, dining room, living room, floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the river and restaurant, a gas fireplace (not useful in August, but would be nice most other times of the year), an incredibly comfortable king size bed, two flatscreen LED TVs, a full bathroom with a separate shower and jacuzzi tub, and an additional “powder room” half-bath. The bedroom had it’s own balcony overlooking the river, and the rest of the suite had a separate wrap-around balcony with a table and chairs overlooking the river and the restaurant. The WiFi was free, though a faster speed was available for an additional fee. Bikes were available at no charge on a first-come first-serve basis (which is a very Portland thing to do). Oh, icing on the cake for iPhone owners – the in-room stereo / alarm clock features a Lightning dock. Between that and the free WiFi, we were never without music to fit the mood. Sitting on a balcony overlooking the Willamette River while soft jazz plays in the next room is…very nice.
PROS: For the money, this suite was an incredible value. While I paid a bit more, I have seen it advertised at other times for as little as $265/night. At a hotel in downtown Portland, let alone Seattle or San Francisco, you would pay $800+ for a room like this, easily. The staff was very attentive and helpful, honoring my request for a top floor room, early checkin, and even spreading rose petals around the suite for a few extra dollars. The valets were all quick and professional. The hotel is quiet, and the atmosphere is relaxing. We trekked into downtown Portland later in the evening, but it was actually very nice to be able to retreat back to the peace and quiet of the South Waterfront afterwards. While initially I was disappointed not to be downtown, that “downside” ended up being a plus.
CONS: Not many! One mirror in the master bathroom looked like it had been recently manhandled by a previous patron, and was precariously attached to the wall. The air conditioning was pretty loud in the bedroom when it came on, but it was hot outside, so we really didn’t mind too much. Other than that, the room was clean, beautifully furnished, and incredibly comfortable, the staff was attentive and professional, and the price was right. What’s to complain about?
I would strongly recommend this hotel to locals looking for a relaxing weekend or romantic evening, or even to anyone visiting who doesn’t mind a quick trek up to the city. Take the streetcar or ride a bike. When in Portland… And if you don’t feel the need to book the big suite, save a few bucks for dinner and get one of the smaller king suites on the river. They looked just as nice. We had a perfect anniversary evening away together, and I think it’s safe to say we’ll be back!
*We received no compensation or promotional consideration for this review. The hotel did not ask for this review or solicit our public feedback. This post was written purely in the hope of helping other busy parents find a reasonably-priced relaxing getaway close to home!