Mrs Smith and I thrive on spontaneity. We love the experience of a new city. Both writers, we’ve learned that hunting editorial is about opportunity. Any moment the phone can ring and the next thing you’re launched across the planet to snag an interview. What seems like a quiet week suddenly becomes one of those ‘any moments’. Opportunity is here, and we are ready. Laptops, cameras, phones, and clothes are all packed, one last sip of coffee and then, whoosh, wheels up, and we are on the other side of the country in the back of a cab heading towards Portland’s Jupiter Hotel.
After a short history lesson on PDX neighborhoods, our cab pulls into Jupiter’s quaint and narrow driveway. It’s immediately apparent that the hotel is at the heart of a local revitalisation, visible from a collage of industrial buildings, budding boutiques, energetic galleries and cosy coffee shops. Stepping out of the cab, the driver tells us with quiet excitement, ‘This place wasn’t so nice before the Jupiter got here, but now it’s good to see all these artsy kids doing their thing.’ As we approach the modern log-cabin-y check-in area, a group of young locals are perched outside planning the night’s pending activities to see a local band. You can feel their excitement and enthusiasm. They are true music fans. That energy stays with us for the entire weekend.
Three days and two nights ahead and we’re wide-eyed and ready to absorb everything Portland. We can’t wait to check out the local neighborhoods, music scene, street art and restaurants. The Jupiter Hotel is perfect for our on-the-fly schedule. We need a location immersed in the city’s art scene that will also provide a comfortable work environment. Plus, quality food options are a must. And, on each of these points the Jupiter is perfect.
We arrive early, before Jupiter’s standard 3pm check-in time, but it isn’t a problem. After a warm chat with the staff and more coffee – yes, of course it’s Stumptown, and yes, it’s complimentary – we headed to our room. We are feeling a little tired, but our excitement for exploration keeps our energy levels high. Or maybe it’s the caffeine.
Mrs Smith and I survey the scene for outlets, lighting and desk space. Not your most romantic review, sorry, but it’s become a habit. Thankfully the double rooms are well equipped with two workspaces that fit a laptop and notebook. There are outlets galore. And the lighting is adjustable – transform your boudoir from seductive to chemistry-lab-bright with a click. And don’t forget the final aphrodisiac to our technolust: free, speedy WiFi!
Once all the tech logistics are assessed, next to hit these TechSmiths is the slick design. The Jupiter?s creative direction combines industrial monochromatic palettes against pops of daring color. This same dynamic ties in well with their ability to draw outdoor elements inside: grey bedding matched with a grass-green throw pillow or interior decor smacking of urban sophistication juxtaposed with wallpaper illustrating an outdoor autumn scene. It?s clever and classic. Nothing is overstated. And it all orchestrates a very calm room that allows us to be productive.
But no, we didn’t just stay plugged-in in our bedroom throughout. Exiting the lobby, we are struck by the Jupiter’s clever layout and unexpected amenities such as the individual outdoor entries for each room tempered with stylish blue lighting, big windows and doors coated in chalkboard paint waiting for a clever message. And there’s also the most stylish rack of bikes for complimentary rental – perfect for zipping around town.
The revamped motel retains all the charm of its history while embracing modern nuances that chime with current prefab Danish design. What it lacks in overt luxury it makes up for in functionality and unpretentious Portland access. Located in the midst of a transforming neighborhood, the Jupiter lures the community’s creatives into its modern motel-styled environment. This sort of outreach gives its guest a special perspective on the city.
Generally when we travel, dining on the premises isn’t the first choice. The Doug Fir, with its shades of mid-century modernism and cosy log-panelling treats us to great food, sassy cocktails and a buzzing atmosphere. Red-leather booths lend a Fifties diner feel, but the fresh, local ingredients are entirely modish. We can recommend first-hand that you try the 19 Dollar Steak and the Apple Creek Pork Chop. Oh and also, Mrs Smith particularly enjoyed the Two Step – a Cazedores tequila mixed with framboise, peach bitters and lime juice served on the rocks.
The Jupiter plays hosts to the area’s best bands nearly every night of the week. As we order another round of drinks in the lounge, we’re joined by an eclectic array of musicians, fans and spectators – all with a sense of ownership over the cultural movement emerging in East Portland. Usually to find this kind of cultural energy, you would need to venture out into the city; for Jupiter guests it’s great that a part of it lives at the hotel.
To experience this vibrant city’s friendly disposition and emerging cultural scene this is the ideal base. Many hotels try to win visitors with a lot of unnecessary extras, but at the Jupiter they focus on the fundamentals – great service, inspiring design and brilliant functionality all mixed with endless charisma that will make you want to come back time and time again.