Thursday, March 13, 2008

Wanderlust: A Tale of Two Portland Hotels

In just about every way, the Ace Hotel and the Monaco Hotel -- only a handful of blocks apart in Portland, Oregon's compact, easily walkable downtown -- couldn't be more different. One is spare, almost utilitarian; the other is opulent. One is modern; the other hearkens back to a different, more glamorous age. One is industrial chic; the other over-the-top elegant. One caters to the young, hip, and creative; the other, to the sophisticated and well-heeled.

Both hotels are breathtaking, albeit each in its own way. Stay at the Ace when you're feeling edgy, and at the Monaco when you want to nestle in the lap of luxury. (Can't afford to overnight at either? As long as you behave yourself, nobody will stop you from nursing your cup of Stumptown Coffee in the casually chill Ace lobby, or from sitting by the fire for a spell at the Monaco.)

Here, a photographic tour of the Ace Hotel (all photos by moi):

Left: The vintage photo booth in the Ace Lobby still works; right: the beautiful salvaged filing cabinet in the "business lounge."

The Army-style blankets on the beds are custom-made by Oregon's own Pendelton; you can nab one of your own for $175 at the front desk (or find something similar on eBay for about a fifth the price).

Mural by Brent Wick in room 415; the rough linen upholstery on the ornate, antique settee creates an intriguing juxtaposition.

Military surplus is used to kit out the Ace's guest rooms; many have turntables and a selection of vintage vinyl.

Mural by Ryan Jacob Smith in Room 404.

Mural by Evan B. Harris, in the 4th floor stairwell.

The Ace's owners had the room number signs made up by Portland's longtime street sign supplier; the floor tiles in the lobby are original to the building.

Across the street from the Ace is the Living Room Theater, one of Portland's many "brew and view" (or "ciné and dine") movie houses; around the corner is this, um, interesting piece of public art, as well as Portland's legendary Powell's Books.

And here, a look at the Monaco's luxe lobby (again, all photos taken by yours truly):

These chairs are so Kelly Wearstler, aren't they?

The raspberry color on the walls is amazing in person.

Somehow, the color explosion totally works.

I love everything about this vignette -- from the decorative white panel to the glossy black lampshade to the pink-and-gray chinoiserie upholstery on the chaise. I'd kill for a reading nook like this ...

I honestly can't decide which hotel I like better -- I think it depends on which day you ask me. I love the Ace's chic simplicity and arty uniqueness, while the Monaco appeals to the old-school, glamour-loving girlie in me. (Bonus random celebrity sighting at the Monaco: Actor Tim Robbins, silver-maned and quite tall, wheeling a bike into the lobby.)

Which hotel's decor better suits your style?

P.S. More on Portland hotels here.


Kerry said...

Love love love this city. And love those hotels, although my personal favorite is the Hotel Vintage Plaza -- we stay in the Garden Suite which has an outdoor hot tub overlooking Broadway, nine stories up.

Looking forward to your other PDX posts.

Mrs.French said...

Not to mention the wonderful deli right next door to the Ace, Kenny and Zukes! The best pastrami in the whole world! Nice to have you in our sweet, little city. Maybe you should pack up and move here, it's a pretty great place.

Katie said...

I'm with you, I think it would depend on what day I was asked...but ultimately I might go for the Ace. The record players, the awesome murals, those army blankets...and the immediate proximity to Powell's especially sways me. I love the sitting area in the lobby of the Monaco though...the more cushy chairs and couches, the better!

C. said...

These are fantastic photos! I must say I'm partial to the room with the Brent Wick mural.

Mary T. said...

This is great. And to add: The Ace allows dogs!


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