The Benson, a Coast Hotel
What We Love
- Every sitting president since William Howard Taft, and at least one king (Elvis), has stayed here
- The glorious, historic, 100-year-old lobby remains the same, but the rooms were “refreshed” in 2011
- The MAX light rail system, among America’s best, travels from the airport to within 1.5 blocks of the hotel
What To Know
- Major suites are not pet friendly; otherwise, pets are permitted for an additional cost of $25, per stay
- “Refresh” remained traditional — no boutique chic here
- Valet parking is available for an additional $33 per night
- Read more about what to see and do in Portland, Oregon in our magazine section
- Free WiFi
- Handicap Accessible
- Parking On Site
Modeled after Chicago’s Blackstone Hotel in the French Second Empire style, the Benson remains Portland’s most iconic hotel. The lobby celebrates the city’s past timber riches, with impressive pillars cut from Circassian walnut from imperisal Russia rising from the Italian marble floors surrounded by pods of overstuffed chairs and floor-to-ceiling wood paneling.
Bed and Bath
Bedrooms are appointed in standard luxury, with plush chairs in neutral tones to match the wallpaper, accented by Chippendale-style furniture and the occasional striped drape or upholstery. The bathrooms, featuring Gilchrist & Soames amenities, are more functional than stylized.
The Palm Court, located in the lobby, remains a popular watering hole for Portland’s business class and pre-theater crowd. Individual lounge areas and tables are spread out beneath the two-story ceiling, with two daily happy hours (including from 9 p.m. to closing) and live jazz Wednesday through Saturday. The formal restaurant, El Gaucho, features a cigar room and all the amenities — tableside preparation of Chateaubriand and the like — associated with a traditional steakhouse.
In the Area
Portland’s downtown is easy to negotiate on foot, including the dynamic Pearl District and the emerging West End. The Benson sits just three blocks from the “City of Books,” Powell’s. The craft-brewing scene was launched here. Bailey’s Taproom and the Tugboat Brewing Company, one of more than 50 urban breweries, sit one block away on SW Ankeny Street. Some of the tastiest of the city’s 600+ food carts can be found around the corner, at SW 9th and Washington, or two blocks farther at SW 10th and Alder, where the nation’s food cart craze began. Don’t miss Nong’s Khao Man Gai’s chicken and rice, but be sure to go early because she sells out daily.
How to Get There
We enjoyed the Benson for the old school lobby, great downtown location and friendly staff. A good place to stay while exploring what Portland has to offer. Lobby is comfortable with a variety of seating, bar service and check out the mezzanine upstairs for a quiet space to hang out in the morning or afternoon. Room was clean with firm beds and plenty of towels in the bathroom, too.
The Hotel is absolutely gorgeous! The Lobby is spacious and yet inviting with a sitting area by a fireplace. The Chandeliers in the Lobby offer just the right amount of light and are beautiful. The Room was clean and the bed was extremely comfortable. The shower had one of those rain shower type heads which feels amazing. Since it is downtown it is within walking distance of Chinatown, Powell's City of Books, and the Shanghai Tunnel Tour. It is also only a 10 minute drive to Pittock Mansion. The only ONLY negative to me is that the Valet Parking is spendy at over $40.00 a day. The twist is that the Hotel itself is supposedly haunted. I went around taking pictures of this amazing place and one picture came out.....strange. I took a picture of an empty hallway and the picture came out "foggy" even though the second picture taken seconds later was fine. Can't explain it but there you go.
The shower in the hotel had an opening, so after every shower the bathroom floor would be wet. There was not much the hotel can do about it, and I overheard other guests mention the same thing, so moving to another room wouldn't have helped either. In addition, the sink facet was so close to the back of the sink, it overflowed on the counter even when you're just trying to wash your hands. The hotel staff was subpar, didn't seem like they valued our business or cared if we returned or not. Whenever I asked a question, it seemed like I was disrupting their day staring at the computer screens.