Woodlark: Everything Old is New Again
While doing a workshop in the Portland, Oregon area for Dynamic Events, I had a chance to stay at downtown Portland’s new Woodlark Hotel. Here’s the review I wrote for my friends Morgan and Patti Hart at Magoguide…
Published May 14, 2019 at Magoguide.net
Woodlark: Everything Old Is New Again
I recently needed lodging midweek in Downtown Portland, and jadedly opened up my Expedia app to review options. One caught my eye for VFM (meaning stellar guest reviews averaging 4.8/5.0 at a decent price in the $140 range)—the Woodlark. Never heard of it! Tired as I was, the room pic looked comfortable and attractive, so I clicked and swiped and aimed my rental car at the heart of Rip City.
An efficient, friendly check-in process included easy valet parking and fast service. A few minutes after tossing my key to the valet, I was relaxing in the quiet, comfortable room assessing my surroundings.
Contemplating dinner options, I passed on the house restaurant, Bullard, and elected to spend an hour in the beautiful hotel bar, Abigail Hall. Fast service accompanied a well-stocked bar with decent wine and beer options and small bites. It took a full hour to appreciate the gorgeous, flowered wallpaper, candlelit fireplace, sconces, and crown molding while nursing an ice-cold Grey Goose martini (shaken, not stirred). My recollection is that they had an interesting hot dog triumvirate that, while tempting, didn’t lead me into temptation.
Walking around the neighborhood, I found the legendary Kelly’s Olympian, the third oldest continuously operating bar/restaurant in Portland with its collection of a dozen vintage motorcycles. I also found Morgan’s Alley, with a superb little wine shop, Oregon Wines on Broadway. After a flight of outstanding Walla Walla Reds accompanied by a nice charcuterie platter, it was back to the room to sleep and get ready for a long day of work and catching up with one of the Magoguide proprietors.
The room was so comfortable that I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow, affording the best sleep ever in a long week of travel and work. The room was gorgeous, comfortable and spacious enough for one person. The textured, forest green color scheme was positively relaxing and reassuringly Oregonian. My only complaint was figuring out how to open and close the curtains—reaching into an alcove for a traditional curtain cord at an awkward angle could easily result in a shoulder strain for elderly guests. And finding electrical outlets in useful places seems to be a universal challenge with hotels everywhere, including the Woodlark. Nevertheless, I give the room a 4.9 on a 5.0 scale. Not absolutely perfect but plenty close.
The next morning, Woodlark helpfully suggested Jake’s Grill just down the street, apparently part of the McCormick & Schmick’s group. I had a Breakfast Trio with a generous serving of praline bacon, for which I would fly to Portland as long as I could stop by Powell’s Books on the way out of town.
After my aforementioned meetup with one-half of the erudite proprietorship of Magoguide (Morgan, no known relationship to Morgan’s Alley), and after another great night of sleep, it was time to check out. After complimenting the friendly clerk for her great service, she volunteered that the Woodlark had only been opened for four months! And that the headquarters of the hotel group, Provenance, was conveniently located just across the street (where they have a strong incentive to see the Woodlark succeed). And just a short walk down Alder Street is the Dossier (now that’s a name that’s been in the news lately!) Hotel, another attractive Provenance property. As it turns out, their business model is finding old historic buildings that have become slightly dilapidated and turning them into amazing, like-new hotel properties. Turns out they’re darn good at it.
I didn’t get to sample Bullard, the Texas-Meets-Oregon hotel restaurant captained by Chef (and ‘Top Chef’ finalist) Doug Adams, where he treats locally sourced meat, fish and produce with lots of fire and smoke. Next time.
Energetic and friendly staff, good value for money, great location. Vouchers for a free coffee and a discounted future stay. Woodlark left me wanting more.
San Francisco, California
April 25, 2019