McMenamins, the company, has a wonderful business model - purchasing old, sometimes dilapidated, buildings, saving them from destruction and bringing them back to life. They get A++ for that. And the same goes to saving the old Kennedy Elementary School: Great idea and a great job in renovating the place, where former classrooms now accommodate paying guests .
Where this hotel fell down in my rating were from wholly fixable issues, including:
- Maybe not a big deal to many people, but since this isn't a retreat dedicated to solitude, what's the reason for not having TV in the rooms? I was expecting to be able to watch the ending holes of a PGA tournament, and wasn't able to do that without going to one of the facility's bars and begging.
- Apparently, McMenamins makes a great deal of their hotel income by opening it to the public. Nothing unusual there, possibly, but there was no evidence that their guests get any sort of priority or consideration for any of the hotel's amenities - including during special events like the Mother's Day brunch where we had to appeal to be let into (we were told at first it was sold out).
- Where their public-use policy was particularly irksome was in trying to enjoy the "soaking pool" which was crowded with non-guests.
- Consistent with their non-guest business, they also cater large events like the wedding going on the evening we were there. Not only did the celebrants make unenjoyable our room adjacent to the courtyard where they were enjoying themselves, the hotel didn't enforce their no noise policy until around 10 PM. Later that evening, as we were trying to go to sleep, the hotel crew was moving tables and chairs around on carts, apparently with small, hard wheels which made raucous sound on the patio bricks. (Note to management: If your crews have to do this at night, at least get them carts with large, pneumatic tires!)
On the positive side of the ledger, the food was good (brunch was terrific, but should have been at $28/person), and the hotel was charming. The "Boiler Room" bar was particularly well designed and interesting, with artifacts from the days it actually heated the school, including the huge furnace doors which now serve as wall decor. Kudos to them for also having a "cigar room" where pariahs with that inclination can repair, away from the scorn of politically correct Portlandians - it IS a small room, however.
Those who have unresolved issues from their youth involving school and/or authority figures, here's your chance to fall asleep in class with the comforting knowledge that you won't get rapped across the knuckles for doing so. You can even parade naked where teachers used to instruct in chalk on the blackboards still in place!
On the whole, a very interesting, but I'll want to know that the issues we encountered have been addressed before I go back...
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- Also Known As:
- Mcmenamins Kennedy School Portland