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“A Disappointment in Luxury”

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Columbia Gorge Hotel & Spa
Ranked #5 of 8 Hotels in Hood River
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersSilver level
Reviewed 13 February 2010

We booked two nights for a romantic getaway and ended up staying only one night because it was too late to cancel our first night's stay and all the hotels in the area were booked. When we arrived, we were informed that we would not be getting the room we had originally booked and had been gauranteed to us 6 weeks prior to our stay when we made our reservation over the phone with the hotel. When we got to our room we were surprised to find the accomodations were less than desirable. The furnashings were comprised of cheap, unmatching peices that could have been picked up in any second hand store clearance auction. Besides the conditions of the room, we found that the heater did not work. The room was about 50 degrees and the outside temperature was between 30-45 degrees. Maintenance could not fix the heater, so they brought us a small space-heater and told us to deal with it. They were much more polite when they said it, but it amounted to the same thing. We were told that every room in the hotel was booked and that nothing could be done. At the time, all the other hotels in Hood River were booked as well, so we had no other lodging options. We cancelled are second nights stay on the spot, wrapped up in blankets to stay warm and made the best of our stay for the remainder of the night. We were very disappointed in our stay and in the attitude of disregard for our experience that was displayed by the hotel staff. I hope this review helps others make an informed decision before supporting this hotel. I read reviews prior to staying, but didn't see any that really substantially warned other consumers about the hotel. So, to leave you with one last thought... there is a reason the website has no pictures of the rooms, its because they are Motel 6 quality. In fact, its almost an insult to rate them as well as Motel 6.

  • Stayed: February 2010, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank jesslb79
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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770 - 776 of 782 reviews

Reviewed 31 January 2010

Some things should just be let go gracefully and this hotel is one of them. As others have said, in its previous incarnation it was a memorable experience but since it has gone "corporate" it has lost much.

I booked a weekend trip for my husband's 70th birthday and retirement which coincided, so I wanted everthing to be as special and perfect as possible. The woman who took my reservation was extremely pleasant and enthusiastic, heightening my sense of anticipation about our stay. We had one of the NE corner rooms (with fireplace) above the waterfall and I paid $85 extra for the romantic getaway package, which includes a bottle of champagne, chocolate plate for 2, rose petals on the bed and a $50 certificate towards dinner. It all sounded wonderful in theory.

In reality it was a different scenario. The reception staff were very welcoming but the bell boy merely took us up to the floor we were on, grunted and pointed down the hallway in the general direction of our room. The hotel has recently been refurbished and we had no complaints about the decor or appointments - everything was clean and new. The location is wonderful and the grounds are very attractive. The room itself was somewhat overcrowded with furniture which made moving about a bit of a challenge and it was very cold when we first arrived at 4pm. We turned on both the fireplace and the heater - when we returned from dinner at 9pm the room was finally comfortably warm.

We were a bit disappointed with the chocolate plate which consisted of one small truffle each, one thin chocolate mint stick each, one strawberry & a tiny blob of cream between us and two rapsberries. There was also one small sized complimentary bottle of water for two people - it would have been nice to have had one each.

Dinner was the biggest disappointment. The young man that saw us to our seats did not pull out my chair for me nor did he hand us our napkins, which I would expect in a hotel of this supposed caliber. Our server, while very polite and friendly, poured my husband the wine for him to taste, took our order, came once during the meal to see if we were okay and that was that. There was only one other table in use so it was not as if she was busy.

The menu itself is overpriced for the type of food on offer. While there are a lot of fancy sounding sauces and potato dishes etc. we soon found out that the quality of said dishes did not match up to their names. The chef seemed to have an obsession with cheese. I am lactose intolerant like many people, which is usually never a problem when I eat out, but here all of the potato dishes contained cheese. When I asked if there was a rice dish as there is usually some sort of pilaff, I was told that there was risotto (with cheese) or pasta (with a cheese sauce). No there was no red potatoes or rice dish but I could have a baked potato. My husband's ribe eye came with a huge unappetizing looking mound of mashed potato which tasted so strongly of blue cheese that he was unable to eat it (and he likes blue cheese). My (cheeseless) baked potato was hard and "waxy" - it had obviously been zapped in a microwave.

The icing on the cake was the desert. My husband chose the Blood Orange Mousse - an orange and chocolate concoction which I decided not to have because I assumed it contained milk. When the waitress brought it, she informed us that it did not contain milk but yes - you've guessed it - cheese!! One bite and it was so obviously full of cream cheese that it too was inedible. In case any reader is thinking how picky we are, the waitress hereself said that she had just tried it - her reaction was a grimace. Needless to say we weren't charged for it. I had no desert - the only item I fancied was sorbet until I discoverd it was coconut and lime... this was another dish that the waitress pulled a face at!!

We decided not to eat breakfast at the hotel but would get something on the way home. At check out, the receptionist merely had me check the bill and wished me a nice day. There was no inquiry if we enjoyed our stay etc which I have never experienced anywhere.

We've literally travelled all over the world and have stayed in 5 star hotels to backwoods motels where you wondered if you would survive the night. We're not snobs by any means but when you pay a reasonably high price for a hotel (the final tab was $379) you have a reasonably high expectation. The irony of the situation is that we stopped for breakfast at Sharis. The food, service, attention of the staff ran circles around what we had just experienced - and left a far smaller dent in our wallet.

  • Stayed: January 2010, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank freyabrit
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
NewGM1, manager at Columbia Gorge Hotel & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded 2 February 2010

I am sorry to read about your stay at the Columbia Gorge Hotel. As we just purchased this lovely hotel in November, we have found a number of challenges to overcome. I am positive we will get to the service standards that is expected of this hotel but the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.

Thank you for your comments it only helps us get better.

GM

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 January 2010

My wife and I stayed here for a quick special occasion trip. Wonderful historic grand hotel, perched aside a waterfall along the Columbia River Gorge. As you'll see in other reviews, like other historic resort hotels, she's gone through a rough patch, but, she's coming along quite nicely under new management.

I was real interested (but a little sad) to read the review from kmdguy below, because we actually agree on many of the items, although he certainly seems to have hit more of the low patches. I absolutely agree with him that the place does not have the extreme grandeur of its glory days --- but then, these days such levels are realistic at only very few hotels.

Our experience was to come to this beautiful historic hotel, which has been updated and kept in good shape, but not over-remodeled to mask its historic appeal. An example: while there is now a/c and heating in each room, they've kept the louvered windows and louvered additional interior doors that were used for cooling in the original days. Another nice touch: the elevator is still the old, staff-operated one.

Yes, the service is at a "lower" level in the sense of not having uniformed bellhops or a grand breakfast service; but I was not wanting or expecting that. The front desk staff was casual but extremely friendly, professional, and efficient. The breakfast in the lounge (fruit, nice pastries, coffee, etc.) was unattended but fine.

A few additional things: the grounds are lit up beautifully for the Christmas season. For an interesting experience, ask for the "waterfall room" --- on the 3rd floor northeast corner, overlooking the waterfall. But bring earplugs: while the room is insulated well, the sound of the rushing water does sneak in when it is quiet and you're going to sleep! But the view is absolutely gorgeous. If you pass on that, definitely get a room on the river side.

So, it's not the full glory-days glamour hotel experience (nor is it at that price, I'd add), but it is a comfortable, romantic glimpse into history.

  • Stayed: December 2009, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Yamhillbilly
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 November 2009

My wife and I have been going to the Columbia Gorge hotel for 20 years. It was the epitome of class, supreme service and elegance. It used to be the play ground for everyone who was important in Hollywood in the 20's through the 40's. Valentino, Louis B. Mayer, Shirley Temple and on and on. We would go for our anniversary each year and it was the kind of place that made you feel like you were dining in the White House and being treated like millionaires. No detail was missed and the ambiance of the entire establishment was black tie all the way. No wonder is was voted "most romantic" year and in and year out in the United States.

Unfortunately hard times saw it close last year and our hearts sank. But we came back this year after we heard it reopened. It is now owned by a faceless conglomerate and managed by a simple property management firm. The have decided to dumb the place down. Instead of the black tie reception we always got in the Valentino lounge with champagne and caviar, a pianist at the black grand piano and feeling that we are entering another era, the elegant room now sports a big screen TV playing college football and serving beer with no live music anymore and no touch of class. It used to feel like the White House, but now looks like a sports bar. The wait staff that used to have the demeanor and professionalism of those working for the Queen have been replaced by waitress just migrating over from Denny's.

People that used to know what this place was about will be heart sick to see the direction of how the new management has decided to take this place. It had the elegance of a Presidential State DInner party and now feels like a trip to Holiday Inn. Hey, I like Holiday Inn, but for decades, this place was known for its elegance, pomp and was a world traveler's destination.

  • Stayed: November 2009, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank kmdguy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 November 2009

We concur with other reviewers that the staff is top-drawer. Food and service both very good. It's a recently refurbished place, as we understand it. Old, but quite charming. You won't beat the scenery from it's perch high on the bluffs above the Columbia River. Grounds are indeed immaculate. Our room rate of $169 was not what most would call a value, but we thoroughly enjoyed our night there. And would do so again, yes.

Stayed: September 2009, travelled as a couple
Thank GAtibby
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 October 2009

There are not many hotel experiences better or more rewarding than a stay at the Columbia Gorge Hotel. The location, gardens, ambiance, hotel itself are each reason enough to stay, but altogether they make an unforgettable package that is not even overly expensive. On the propperty you overlook a 208 foot waterfall, the mighty Columbia gorge. Can view herons, Stellar jays. The food is excellent. Service is wonderful. Gardens a delight with meandering brooks. Could spend 1/2 day just enjoying the garden and did... Can't say enough. Do not miss this place!!!

  • Stayed: October 2009, travelled with family
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Thank RNMPennsylvania
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 October 2009

We stayed at the Columbia Gorge Hotel because it was repeatedly listed in travel books as one of the best historic hotels to stay at in Oregon. We appreciated the historic charm of the hotel. The staff was very friendly and the views of the gorge from the lounge were beautiful. However, our stay was just average because of our room. It was clean, but our garden view room had a lovely view of the highway and the mattress was too soft. The biggest disappointment was the bathroom; little storage space, very slow drains, low water pressure, and during showers the water temperatures constantly fluctuated between very hot and very cold.

  • Stayed: October 2009, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Alika02
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Columbia Gorge Hotel & Spa

Address: 4000 Westcliff Dr, Hood River, OR 97031
Phone Number:
Region: United States > Oregon > Hood River
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa
Hotel Style:
Ranked #5 of 8 Hotels in Hood River
Price Range: £106 - £231 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Columbia Gorge Hotel & Spa 3.5*
Number of rooms: 40
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
With its historic charm and reputation for excellence the Columbia Gorge Hotel is a perfect location for your next leisure visit in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge. ... more   less 
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