There were times when staying at the Jupiter Hotel in Portland’s northeast side that we felt just a little like we’d stepped into a different world. And it had nothing to do with the hotel’s name.
You see, hipness has eluded us of late. Somewhere in between the disposable diapers and humming along to our daily dose of Thomas the Tank Engine, we just lost it. And we were all too starkly reminded of this fact the second we pulled into the parking lot of the Jupiter Hotel. I turned to my husband, who was behind the wheel of our 1987 Volvo station wagon with the “Baby on Board” sign on the back window, and I said, “Um, honey. We’re not this cool.”
The Jupiter is a remodeled, suped-up TravelLodge in a close-in urban area in the northeast. At first it reminded me of another hipped-up travellodge we’d stayed at in L.A. on Hollywood Blvd a few years back called The Vibe. Fortunately in the end the Jupiter is a far better accommodation on many levels. (Don’t stay at The Vibe in L.A. unless you are 22 years old. Or wish you were.)
Upon close inspection, the Jupiter exhibits some fraying around the edges but decent modern decor and unique touches really help it along so you don’t really notice or mind. To be clear, though, the Jupiter is not quite on the same level of “niceness” as, say, the Hotel Modera or even the Ace Hotel, which offer rooms in the same price range this time of year.
Folks come here for the cool vibe, live music at the Doug Fir Lounge connected to the hotel, and the party atmosphere. As far as I could tell, everyone was having a really great time. And despite the fact that we’re a family with a small child, and prefer to hit the sack somewhere around 9pm, so were we.
There are elements of this hipster-laden, boutique hotel that were surprisingly kid-friendly. Take your hotel room door, for example. They’ve painted it with chalkboard paint, and provide several fresh sticks of colorful chalk so that you may have at it. Sure, some patrons undoubtedly use the chalkboard medium for scoring their drinking games or composing haiku. My 16-month used it to draw lines. Lots and lots of lines.
There’s more. As a budget traveler, room service is typically not even in my vocabulary. The Jupiter offers really affordable room service from the Doug Fir restaurant next door, and the menu is fabulously complete with kid-friendly items like grilled cheese and root beer floats. This came in handy our second night there when a cranky baby and pouring rain outside combined to make stepping out for dinner a seemingly impossible task. Plus, Vacation was on the tube, and it had just started.
One joy of waking up at the Jupiter is the promise of strong, freshly-brewed Stumptown coffee available in the lobby. This beats in-room, flavorless coffee-in-a-bag any day. Both mornings we stayed here, this first cup was quickly followed by a second over a delicious breakfast at the adjacent Doug Fir restaurant, where every meal (including our first night’s dinner) was a total hit. Their corner booth makes a terrific spot for people-watching. (Aside–my people-watching notes from this booth include two observations: (1) Morrissey’s haircut is back in fashion, and (2) if you like a bloody mary with your eggs over easy in the a.m., you’ll be free of judgment at the Doug Fir.)
One last family tip: request a room away from the lounge when you book your room. We were on an upper floor, well away from the lounge, and were never kept awake by the noise or parties as I’d feared we would be. Still, this can be an issue for some of the rooms, so earplugs are provided on the nightstand (along with a condom, btw.) We have white noise on our iPod and there’s an iPod plugin on the nightstand, another convenience that could come in handy with the kiddos.
The posted room rates at the Jupiter run about $110 – $160, and are a tad too steep for what you get. I think a reasonable rate for this hotel would be $75 – $100. And rest assured – there are ways you can secure a better rate. One is their advance pay option–reserve and pay 21 days in advance of your stay and get 15% off. (The downside is your reservation is non-refundable.) Booking your room through Priceline will also shave about $20 off the rate quoted on the hotel’s website. And, in the unlikely scenario you find yourself in the vicinity of the Jupiter in the middle of the night with nowhere to stay, you can check into a room after midnight and pay $59 (provided rooms are available, of course).
Info: (503) 230-9200 | Jupiter Hotel