Encompassing a beautiful stretch of Willamette River waterfront, bustling downtown streets and grand Union Station, Portland Old Town Chinatown is Amtrak train-accessible and eminently walkable. And it’s easier than ever to stay and play here thanks to the recent addition of The Hoxton, a hip, London-based boutique hotel brand.
WITHIN THE WALLS
If you’re alone and want a shoebox, The Hoxton has it. “Shoebox” is literally the smallest room size, fitting a bathroom, a twin mattress, some local coffee and tea, a slick pamphlet of recommendations and little else. “Snug,” “Cosy” and “Roomy” round out the options in ascending order, with the latter the only type recommended for more than two people.
The rooms are comfortable and attractive, with dark walnut paneling and well-curated art, but above all they’re functional. By minimizing the footprint of its rooms and maximizing its shared spaces, The Hoxton appeals to travelers who prefer to spend their time socializing and sightseeing the Rose City.
It’d be easy to spend an entire day just hanging out at The Hoxton. The lobby buzzes with folks working on laptops and sipping outrageously refreshing nonalcoholic matcha tonics, infused with grapefruit and hops, and various margaritas all night. It’s connected to and served by house restaurant La Neta, whose large windows and green leather booths make it a cozy place to people-watch with a bowl of guacamole and crispy tortilla chips made onsite.
On the roof, airy taqueria Tope is all white-tiled walls, sprawling plants and mezcal cocktails with savory notes from carrots and mole bitters. And the unnamed basement bar nails the speakeasy vibe, with a separate outdoor entrance leading to dim lighting, mismatched stools and Chinese-American classics like chop suey.
OUTSIDE THE HOXTON
The surrounding blocks are a trove of cool retail shops, creative restaurants and inspiring cultural sights. The 38-foot-tall Chinatown Gateway is an impressively elaborate entry to the neighborhood, adorned with dozens of mythical figures. Named for Da Hong Pao, a famously roasty tea whose name translates to “big red robe,” Red Robe Tea House offers the traditional gongfu tea ceremony and mooncakes filled with red bean paste.
And Lan Su Chinese Garden is a walled oasis on an entire city block. Built in 2000 by artisans from Portland’s sister city Suzhou, the sublime garden features hundreds of indigenous Chinese plants, carved bridges and pavilions and an artificial lake. Frequent events, including daily public tours included in the price of admission, and an impressive two-story teahouse, operated by The Tao of Tea, further enliven things.
Unique souvenirs abound at the Portland Saturday Market, an arts and crafts extravaganza overlooking the river, as well as places like Floating World Comics, which sells and even publishes an extensive array of graphic novels, zines and local art; Orox Leather Goods, whose bags and other products are built to last; and Kiriko Made, which turns vintage Japanese textiles into gorgeous clothing and accessories.
Pine Street Market, in the historic Carriage and Baggage Building, is a food hall that could satisfy every craving. Pizza and croissants from James Beard Award-winner Ken Forkish at Checkerboard Pizza, scorched Korean bibimbap bowls at Kim Jong Smokehouse, Salt & Straw’s boundary-pushing ice cream as soft serve at Wiz Bang Bar and delicacies from six additional vendors fill the hall.
It’s also easy to while away the hours with beer and arcade games, like four-player Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, at multi-story Ground Kontrol, or cheering on bedazzled performers at legendary nightclub Darcelle XV, whose eponymous drag queen will turn 90 in 2020.
Old Town Chinatown is the kind of neighborhood that truly has it all, including a chic new place from which to experience it.