Review: Hi-Lo Hotel Portland

We recently spent a couple of nights in Portland (the primary motivation was to check out the Priority Pass lounge offering there). The Pacific Northwest is highly seasonal when it comes to hotel rates, and since it was the end of the summer travel season, hotel rates were still pretty high. In the past I’ve stayed at The Nines, which is an SPG Luxury Collection property. However, the rate there was over $500 per night over our stay.

Given Marriott’s takeover of Starwood, I’ve been trying to stay at more Marriott properties lately so I can report back on my experiences with their brands. Generally I’d rather review one of their independent brands rather than their cookie cutter brands, so I was happy to see that there was an Autograph Collection hotel in Portland. We decided to stay at the Hi-Lo Hotel Portland, where the rate was a more reasonable ~$220 per night.

The Nines has a fantastic location within Portland, which is to say that we were within walking distance of just about everything we wanted to see, with the exception of the Japanese Gardens. The hotel is only a couple of blocks from The Nines.


Hi-Lo Hotel Portland exterior


Hi-Lo Hotel Portland entrance

The hotel has a beautiful, cozy lobby. Inside the entrance and to the left is the bar area, which doubles as lobby seating.


Hi-Lo Hotel Portland lobby


Hi-Lo Hotel Portland lobby

There’s similar seating to the right of the entrance. The furniture almost reminded me of Cathay Pacific’s Pier Lounge in Hong Kong.


Hi-Lo Hotel Portland lobby


Hi-Lo Hotel Portland lobby

The check-in area was inside the entrance and to the left, and consisted of a small desk that was staffed by two employees. The one who helped me was friendly and efficient, thanked me for being a Platinum member, and presented me with two breakfast vouchers, as well as a $10 food & beverage credit as a welcome amenity.


Hi-Lo Hotel breakfast vouchers for being a Platinum member

We had been upgraded to a Corner King room, so we headed up to the second floor, where our room was located.


Hi-Lo Hotel Portland elevators

I loved the design of this place, and especially the exposed concrete combined with colorful carpet.


Hi-Lo Hotel Portland hallway

Upon exiting the elevator we turned right, and then our room (#215) was at the end of the hallway on the left.


Hi-Lo Hotel Portland hallway


Hi-Lo Hotel Portland floorplan

The room had a narrow entryway with a sliding door to the bathroom on the left, and the rest of the room straight ahead.


Hi-Lo Hotel Portland Corner King Room entryway

Inside the entryway was an exposed closet and a mini-fridge, which also had a welcome amenity inside of it.


Hi-Lo Hotel Portland Corner King Room entryway


Hi-Lo Hotel Portland Corner King Room mini-fridge

The centerpiece of the room was a comfortable king size bed with two nightstands.


Hi-Lo Hotel Portland Corner King Room


Hi-Lo Hotel Portland Corner King Room

In the corner of the room was a TV stand, and then next to it was a desk with a rolling chair.


Hi-Lo Hotel Portland Corner King Room

While the desk was comfortable, the outlets were near the floor — it always surprises me when newly built hotels don’t install outlets on the actual desk.


Hi-Lo Hotel Portland Corner King Room desk

Then in the interior corner of the room was a sitting area with a cozy couch and a seat.


Hi-Lo Hotel Portland Corner King Room sitting area

My one real complaint about the room was that the sound insulation wasn’t good at all, and you could hear quite a bit of noise from the street. Furthermore, it’s sort of awkward to have a corner room on the second floor. When we kept the curtains open, homeless people would wave at us, and if we didn’t wave back, they’d start cursing at us (and we could hear it).


Hi-Lo Hotel Portland Corner King Room view


Hi-Lo Hotel Portland Corner King Room view

The bathroom was back near the entrance, and again, had a stunning design. Between the exposed concrete and brass fixtures, I thought the design was incredible.

Hi-Lo Hotel Portland Corner King Room bathroom


Hi-Lo Hotel Portland Corner King Room bathroom

Hi-Lo Hotel Portland Corner King Room bathroom

There was both a walk-in shower and a bathtub.

Hi-Lo Hotel Portland Corner King Room bathtub

Hi-Lo Hotel Portland Corner King Room shower

Toiletries were in large, reusable bottles, and were Hi-Lo branded. I thought they were pretty high quality.


Hi-Lo Hotel Portland toiletries

Also in the room were two bottles of water — Essentia water, no less!


Hi-Lo Hotel Portland Corner King Room bottled water

As mentioned above, there was a lovely welcome amenity waiting for us, including a bottle of Hi-Lo branded wine, two bottles of VOSS water, and a plate with cheese, meat, and bread. That was a very nice gesture on their part.


Hi-Lo Hotel Portland Platinum welcome amenity

Wifi in the room was fast and free.

In the mornings the hotel offers complimentary coffee in the lobby from 6AM until 9AM. I always prefer to have a cup of coffee or two before I have breakfast, so I appreciate any hotel that makes it easy to get that first cup.


Hi-Lo Hotel Portland complimentary coffee in the lobby

Both mornings we had breakfast at Alto Bajo, the hotel’s restaurant on the ground floor, just off the lobby.


Hi-Lo Hotel Portland Alto Bajo Restaurant


Hi-Lo Hotel Portland Alto Bajo Restaurant

This was a Mexican restaurant during the day, though in the mornings they had a more varied selection. The menu read as follows:

I’ve had some issues in the past with Marriott’s breakfast benefit, though I thought this was one was fair. As a Platinum member you get either the Hi-Lo Breakfast ($11) or The Portlander ($10), or if you don’t want either of those, you get a $10 per person credit towards anything else. However, beverages aren’t included (which worked out, since we were overly caffeinated by the time we went to breakfast, thanks to the free coffee in the lobby).

I tried The Portlander the first morning, and the Hi-Lo Breakfast the second morning. Both were tasty.


Hi-Lo Hotel Portland Alto Bajo Restaurant breakfast — The Portlander


Hi-Lo Hotel Portland Alto Bajo Restaurant breakfast — Hi-Lo Breakfast

My one complaint about the restaurant, which I really can’t wrap my head around, is that they don’t have freshly squeezed juice, and also don’t have an espresso machine. That seems ridiculous for what’s supposed to be a luxury(ish) hotel. This is minor in the grand scheme of things, though.

In terms of the hotel’s other facilities, the gym is located on the basement level, and can be accessed 24/7 using a keycard.


Hi-Lo Hotel Portland gym


Hi-Lo Hotel Portland gym


Hi-Lo Hotel Portland gym

Hi-Lo Portland bottom line

I loved this hotel. I found the design to be stunning (though I realize it may not be everyone’s taste), the service to be excellent (including at the entrance, front desk, and restaurant), and the location to be great. I’d recommend this hotel without hesitation, and would stay here again. What a great new option for Marriott and Starwood loyalists.

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Comments

  1. Glad you had a good trip to Portland. I live here and wish I knew you were coming in advance — would have invited you to dinner. Let me know if you are going to be back to Portland sometime.

  2. I’ve stayed at several new build Autograph hotels recently (Press Hotel, Watermark) – they are among my favorite hotels in the United States. It’s a great brand. Elite benefits are often better than Marriott’s luxury brands too. Make sure the hotels are newly built, though. Developers can build them to “Autograph” specifications in a way that makes sense.

  3. Looks great, but having people on the street peering into my room would be very uncomfortable. And how can any hotel not include coffee with a “free” breakfast, especially when it’s free in the lobby?

  4. I have to say I have been VERY impressed with Marriott’s smaller brands like Autograph and AC. I stayed at the AC hotel in Portland, and absolutely loved everything about it.

  5. Wow – this was not in existence when I was traveling to Portland, but, the Westin (now the Dossier) was top notch. This definitely looks better than the Nines which I have never been too huge a fan of minus their very very solid club lounge with free local wine and beer in the evening and mimosas in the morning with AMAZING cinnamon rolls on weekends.

  6. Awesome review – look forward to staying there on my next trip to Portland! I’ve stayed in The Nines before, but had a terrible experience, since it was overrun by bachelor parties the weekend I was there, and the staff were some of the worst I’ve ever experienced in a hotel.

  7. I’m so sorry you were visiting during the crisis. Late summer is the worst time to visit Portland anyway because it’s uncomfortably hot, all the sidewalks are a smelly sticky mess because it doesn’t rain (!) in summer, and hotels are overpriced. This year we have the bonus of nearby forest fires (that are still burning) filling the air with ash and making it seem like we are in Beijing! I hope you’ll return during milder weather – the reopened Japanese Garden was beautiful this past spring and should be remarkable in fall.

  8. I wonder if the extensive welcome amenities in the room (wine, food, etc.) are standard for all Marriott platinum guests, or if they were special for Ben, a well-known travel blogger, who books rooms under his own name. I suspect the latter.

    Still, the hotel looks nice, and I could see staying during my next PDX trip, even if I’m likely only to receive the $10 food certificate as a welcome amenity.

  9. Thanks for the review. Will put this one on our list. We usually stay in the Nines and the homeless are very vocal in downtown!

  10. For anyone travelling with a big group or on a budget, the Residence Inn in the Pearl District is fantastic – clean as a whistle as its only 2 years old and has some big suites of different shapes and sizes. there’s a municipal parking garage right across the street that’s very easy to use and has great rates ($2 per hour or $9/day, $5/day on weekends!). Pearl District is a tad less centered than downtown but is a fantastic neighborhood to explore and makes a good base. It was my best Residence/Courtyard experience.

  11. I agree with the comments about The Nines as I’ve never felt very valued when I stay there even though I’m Ambassador level with SPG. It’s a hotel that I want to love that doesn’t love me back. I enjoyed my stay a few weeks ago at the AC and will give Hi-Lo a shot- though I doubt I’ll get the same type of amenity as Ben received!

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