Google "hotels Portland Maine". Go ahead, add qualifiers like "Classic" or "Vintage", or "Historic". What you come up with is an amazing variety of big chain corporate boxes that would be as much at home in the shadow of an airport, anywhere, and not a single old property of note, save for the Inn At St John, and the Portland Regency. This is New England, for heaven's sake! Portland may have more restaurants, per capita, than San Francisco, but it also has but 1/10th of their population---this is a very small city with big buildings (also quite a bit like San Francisco, in that respect) and if there were any grand old hostelries, I don't know what happened to them.
Is this a nice hotel? Yes. Was it a good value? We paid $135 per night/double, through Expedia, and I'd hedge that question by saying it was worth the money. Would I pay the $300.-400 a night that I've read is the rack rate? No. Would I come back at the $135 rate? Yes, but after I tried the Inn At St. John, first.
The Regency is a boutique hotel, built into the shell and up onto the back roof of the local armory. Like many such properties, glitz and glamor are employed to distract the eye from architectural embellishments that don't exist. And, unfortunately, all of the work that was done was topped off with drop-ceilings, which in the halls at least have the patterns of pressed tin ceilings, but not in the rooms, where the ceilings are about 7' above the floor. Drop ceilings are to Design what toupes and hair weaves are to balding men: The simplicity of the solution seems like a good idea, until the discerning eye catches it and then you're out.
Portland, Maine is laid out a lot like Portland, Oregon, but feels more like Seattle: The oldest buildings are along the water, but some of the most beautiful are a short walk inland. Like Seattle, there was a lot of late-century demo, and the big holes were filled with ill considered modernist structures that blight the town. And, there isn't a lot to Portland. Again, it's a really small city, so after a day spent walking around, you're left feeling you've seen it all. Worse yet, like the tourist traps at Fisherman's Wharf, many of the local restaurants, some with famous local names, don't even use local lobster! Don't let Anthony Bourdain be your trusted restaurant guide, let me tell you! Either someone on his show doesn't do their footwork, or fresh-local isn't that important to them!
And no, they don't have coffee makers in the room. But honestly, you get what you pay for, free coffee is almost never good coffee. The Regency's coffee is no exception---if you don't choose this hotel, please don't let the lack of an in-room coffee maker be the reason! There is SO MUCH great coffee within a block or so of the hotel, and some really good bakeries, including the Standard, within the same short distance.
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- Also Known As:
- Regency Portland
- Portland Regency Hotel & Spa Maine