Photos by Lane Pearson

Old-School Bend Gets Hip(ster) Upgrade in the Campfire Hotel

by | Dec 30, 2021

There are myriad options for lodging in Bend and around central Oregon, from swanky resorts to cheap motels; from one-of-a-kind offerings like a parochial school-turned-brewery/hotel to cookie-cutter lodgings that look the same in Bend as they do in South Bend, Indiana. 

Recently, I was offered a night for a  “staycation,” at a spot I’d driven by many times on a fairly busy Bend thoroughfare. I didn’t realize what I thought to be an old motel had been radically transformed in 2020. As the name Campfire Hotel projects, bunking up here when staying in Bend is like the budget-chic, semi-urban equivalent of car camping — if you had a hot tub at your campgrounds. And if you replaced your janky campfire made from a bundle of wood you bought at the state park’s entry hut with a massive gas fire pit. Seriously, the thing’s like ten feet in diameter.

Guests, who by definition are strangers to each other, all congregate around it and converse like old friends.

The same crew that launched Campfire Hotel is behind other Oregon boutique hotels including Portland’s Jupiter Hotel and Hood River’s Hood River Hotel. The formula for these has proven to be a winning one. Comparatively low cost. Wall-to-wall hip(ster) décor and touches. Central location. And destination-worthy cocktail bars. Plus, they’re pet friendly. And that matters to me when road tripping (or staycationing), because my girl Taz loves being pampered starting with a gourmet dog treat.

Each of Campfire Hotel’s 100 rooms is designed to make you feel like you’re in an old timber town. Because that’s what Bend is. Camping motif runs rampant from the lumber facades and fences to the wooden furniture available outside the hotel’s three buildings. My favorite was walking into our room and being greeted by the sounds of a crackling fire, astride a babbling brook, with birds chirping. OK, that was airing on the flatscreen, but it’s reason enough to not watch anything else or even to turn it off (but maybe just lower the volume at night).

Any number of outdoor activities draw folks to Bend year-round from floating the Deschutes River in the summer, to skiing in the winter, to mountain biking two to three seasons. But once the SUP or snow boards are put away for the day, most visitors head for the bars or breweries.There are a half dozen brewery taprooms (including Deschutes, Silver Moon, and Crux) less than a mile away as well as a full dozen cocktail bars (including the Stihl Whiskey Bar and Dogwood Cocktail Cabin). The latter created an outpost called the Canteen that’s adjacent to Campfire’s front desk. The menu is a paired down list of Dogwood’s best-sellers including the Beetnik (made with beet-infused vodka) and Thai One On (a rum-based bevvy featuring coconut milk and basil).

For my part, I went classic: The Campfire Old Fashioned. And because it’s an Old Fashioned, it doesn’t need any extra thirst traps; it manages to look good on Instagram better without any filters. That said, my subsequent cocktail with pineapple and habanero-infused tequila and a frothy egg white head shows I can also let my hair down. 

The Canteen, which opens at 5 p.m., has a small (but yummy) sandwich menu. As such, a couple nearby breakfast options that sling morning comfort foods you’ll need if you successfully make it through the cocktail menu include The Breakfast Club (378 NE Greenwood Ave.; get the chili omelet) and Palmer’s Café (645 NE Greenwood Ave.) try the gravy eggs benedict which are messy as you feel but tasty beyond words).

And get this: If one stay here isn’t enough, they’ve rolled out a season pass. For $2,000, you can stay for a couple nights a week — every week — through the end of March (it started in November). Or, if you don’t care about weekends, it drops to $1,250 for Sundays through Thursdays, with Backporch Coffee Roasters available in your room and brewed in the lobby included.
721 NE 3rd St, Bend, OR

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