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When I learned about plans to build a new hotel in Eugene, Ore., I immediately placed it on my radar. Called Inn at the 5th, it was billed as a stylish and intimate oasis catering to both leisure and business travelers in an ideal location. As the first new downtown hotel in 28 years, it sounded like a winner right from the start.
A recent visit confirmed my expectations that Inn at the 5th is the best place to stay in Eugene. Open since February 2012, it has already earned distinction as the only AAA-rated Four Diamond hotel in the city. Considering that just 4.8 percent of AAA’s 30,000 approved lodgings make the Four Diamond list, that’s a sterling endorsement of this classy boutique hotel.
The location of the 70-room inn is a huge selling point. It’s integrated into the charming Fifth Street Public Market, a top tourist attraction with a colorful collection of courtyards, specialty shops, cafes and restaurants. A five-minute walk from Inn at the 5th leads to the lovely six-mile walking and biking trail that hugs the Willamette River and passes parks, gardens and the University of Oregon’s Autzen Stadium.
As soon as I entered the lobby, I picked up on the inn’s hip, urban vibe derived from such touches as custom-designed sculptures and wall sconces. At the same time, the aesthetic imparts decidedly Northwest overtones; a curated portfolio of original art adds a strong sense of place in the public spaces.
Guest room themes showcase different aspects of Eugene and Oregon, from the Oregon Bach Festival to the university’s impressive track and field history. The end tables in my room were handcrafted from a maple tree that once stood on the property. The fireplace mantel was made from reclaimed wood from the original Nike store, a Eugene claim to fame.
Inn at the 5th rooms offer plenty of delights, but by far my favorite amenity was the in-room butler-style service doors — one accessible from the hall and the other opening from inside the room — allowing guests to receive room service meals without even seeing the server.
Additionally, my room provided all the perks that discriminating travelers have come to expect such as free Wi-Fi access, a 42-inch flat-panel television, dual sinks in the bathroom, an iPod docking station, customizable mini-bar, 400-count Italian linens and newspaper delivery each weekday.
Another nice touch: Instead of noisy ice machines, the hallways feature handsome chests with small pre-packed bags of ice for the taking.
For travelers like me who try to support sustainability, the inn boasts an energy-saving heating and cooling system, triple-pane windows and paperless check-in and check-out.
Guests can rent bikes, work out in the 24-hour fitness center, book spa treatments in the adjacent Gervais Salon and take care of business at the nooks located on each floor. For meetings, the hotel features two attractive gathering spaces suitable for groups from six to 80 people.
While it’s possible to walk to restaurants and shops in the neighborhood, Inn at the 5th provides a free shuttle service within four miles of the hotel in a sleek black Mercedes van. It also provides complimentary airport transportation.
Inn at the 5th sales manager Jennifer Cooper told me that her hotel’s clientele represents a broad range of travelers from across the U.S. and international destinations.
“We cater to leisure guests, corporate clients, visitors to the University of Oregon, people seeking out the arts and culture of Eugene and lovers of the Willamette Valley wine country,” Cooper said. “My hope is that all our guests will experience a welcoming, comfortable stay with exceptional service and attention to detail, leading them to become repeat guests and recommend Inn at the 5th to their friends and family.”
Rates start at $189 per night. The “Inn Love” romance packages are timed with the hotel’s first anniversary and range from $179-$299 per night through Feb. 28.