Pearl District Gem

This Portland inn finds new life as a funky boutique property

By: Marty Wentzel

Do your clients have a favorite color? Chances are they’ll find it at the Inn at Northrup Station, one of the brightest-hued hotels they’ll ever encounter.

The Northwest Portland facility was formerly known as the Carriage Inn, a 1978 motel providing affordable but forgettable overnight and weekly rentals. In 2001, Portland-area investors bought and redeveloped it as a boutique hotel so that it would better harmonize with the surrounding gentrified neighborhoods and emerging retail district called the Pearl.

Portland-based architect Steve Routon applied his restoration savvy to the exterior, reinventing it with a stylized mix of brick, steel, concrete, glass and soaring trellises. Meanwhile, the design team of Jim Yockey and Pieter Reed went to town on the interiors. The result comes across at once retro and futuristic. In the lobby, fused glass pieces brighten up the windows. Chairs look like stuffed cactuses without the quills, yet they are surprisingly comfortable. In the guestroom bedrooms, curled metal rods playfully snake in and around the headboards, while in the hallways, lively oval crystals dangle from lamps like someone’s showy earrings.

Color catches the eye no matter where it looks, from the intensely lime green soap dish in the bathroom, to the lavender couch with striped pillows in the guestroom sitting area. The overall effect is fun and funky, with a distinctive style.

Inn at Northrup Station general manager Bill Stevens explained that the architecture and interior design of the hotel reflect the creative energy of its environs.

“Northwest Portland evokes a true sense of independence, from its vast array of retail shops and restaurants, to its unique cultural attractions,” said Stevens. “Our area, including the Pearl District, represents the epicenter of the city’s arts community, with numerous galleries and working studios found throughout adjacent, vibrant neighborhoods.”

While the Inn at Northrup Station doesn’t have its own restaurant, it’s located within a five-minute stroll of more than two dozen dining establishments, including such popular Portland eateries as Wildwood, Paley’s Place, Serrato, Lucy’s Table, Papa Haydn and Jo Bar Rotisserie. A real perk is the complimentary continental breakfast that enlivens the inn’s lobby each morning. Juices, fruits, granola, homemade muffins, yogurt, milk, bagels with cream cheese and coffee fuel clients for the day ahead. When the morning fare has been cleared away, several oversized glass containers somehow remain forever filled to the brim with candy, serving the sweet tooth around the clock.

Northrup Station is one of the many stops along the city’s streetcar line, which makes a continuous six-mile loop from the Northwest to Southwest districts. The clean, sleek cars stop at 40 stations along the way and hold up to 140 passengers each. Thanks to a GPS tracking system, clients can consult a reader board by the inn’s porte cochere to determine the arrival time of the next streetcar, about 30 steps from the front door. The hotel gives guests as many free passes for the line as they need during their stay.

Since the inn hosts largely business travelers during the week, it provides clients with high-speed Internet access and a handy workspace in each room. During weekends, leisure travelers can take advantage of the free on-site parking and fully equipped kitchens.

“We find that people who initially visit us on vacation often return for business, and vice-versa,” Stevens noted.

An open-air rooftop garden with tables, chairs and a barbecue makes for an added bonus during the warmer months.

Clients who gravitate to mainstream hotels might turn up their noses at the Inn at Northrup Station. But anyone who appreciates friendly service and a daring design will enjoy this energetic alternative, no matter what color they’re in the mood for.


Inn at Northrup Station
2025 NW Northrup
Portland, OR 97209

Hits: All of the accommodations in the Inn at Northrup Station are suites featuring full kitchens with granite countertops. The property is located by a streetcar stop, making it ultra-convenient for traveling around the city.
Misses: Rooms aren’t soundproof. If your clients stay in a unit facing the street, they’ll hear the streetcar and other outside noises. Earplugs help when neighboring guests decide to hold a loud conversation in the hallway after hours.
Be Aware: While the hotel has no restaurant, it’s within easy walking distance of a variety of eateries. Room rates come with a generous continental breakfast.
Plugging In: All units feature an executive desk with two dataports. High-speed Internet access is available for a nominal charge. Every room offers two-line phones with voice mail.
Clientele: Business travelers during the weekdays, leisure clients on weekends.
Rates: Depending on the season, rates range from $99 to $159 per night. Travel agents can get discounts of up to 60 percent off rack. Also, each month the hotel gives away one free suite night to a travel agency that has booked clients there.
Commission: 10 percent