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“Didn't meet our expectations”

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McMenamins Kennedy School
Ranked #36 of 146 Hotels in Portland
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 16 May 2013

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...

Room Tip: Avoid rooms adjacent to the courtyard, especially during holidays or events like weddings.
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  • Stayed: May 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank Seafood_Eatsame
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Mel J, Manager at McMenamins Kennedy School, responded to this reviewResponded 18 May 2013

Thank you for taking the time to write a review! We appreciate the constructive feedback and are very sorry that we didn't meet your expectations. Your comments about guests getting priority for these specialty events like Mother's Day are right on, you shouldn't have to beg and we will train our staff on how better to accommodate the guests. We are so glad you enjoyed your meal! As for noise, especially from the wheels of our carts, easy fix and we are on it! Thanks for the suggestion of rubber tires, sometimes the fix is so simple no one thinks of it.
None of your suggestions have fallen on deaf ears and we will be addressing the concerns with the appropriate departments. Thank you again for taking the time to write this wonderfully constructive review. We do hope to see you again in the future.

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401 - 407 of 628 reviews

Reviewed 1 May 2013

Because of its former history as a 1915 schoolhouse, this hotel/restaurant exudes tons of charm packed in its former classrooms now turned into dining or hotel rooms by McMenamins.
The restaurant features its main dining area in a beautiful courtyard setting while guests can also avail one of four bar/restaurant area indoors. The menu offers lots of steaks and sausages but guests can also choose a couple of seafood or pizza options. Since this property is a former schoolhouse, it is located in a residential area and so a GPS in your car may help to prevent you from being lost.

  • Stayed: April 2013, travelled on business
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1  Thank MrEdnWilbur
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 April 2013

When you can open the windows and sit outside for a beer, the old house smell does not bother much.
This is a fun hotel, the kind where you spend as little time in your room as possible. If you're planning on lounging in your room and zoning out infront of the TV, this is not the right hotel for you. For one, there is no TV and the noise from outside can be bothersome, when you have some yapper standing outside your open window (and remember, the window needs to be open so you can breathe fresh air).

The bed is soft and you will roll to the middle a bit, but the King size mattress is big enough to avoid this. The blankets are the old, brown, fuzzy kind and the pillows are not great. Don't rely on their soap and shampoo, they're Made in China.

The hotel is located very close to Alberta Street which has some great restaurants and it's also close enough to any other part of the city you'd want to get to (by car).

25 minutes from amazing hiking at the gorge. Grab a sandwich at the German Bakery on the way and you're set for a day of outdoor wonder.

The best part of this hotel is the fun factor. 5 different bars, with much character, great mixed drinks. Monkey Punch!! And the food is good too. Free movie nights at the fabulous theater.
I don't get the appeal of the soaking pool, but they have one.

It's weird and it's fun, especially if you surprise your partner and don't tell them anything about it before you go.

  • Stayed: April 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank 5StarBohemian
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 April 2013

We checked into the Kennedy School for a wedding in Portland. Our stay was 5 days. The bed was very comfortable, but had an indentation in the middle and we rolled into it every night. The antique wardrobe served us well for the hanging clothes, but there was no place to unpack the suitcase. It would not have been inconvenient if we had a shorter stay or had brought less clothes. The wedding required several changes of outfit. The restaurant provided a convenient and tasty breakfast each day (not included in the price of room) and the variety of bars was really fun. We took advantage of the 100 degree soaking pool several times, so bring your bathing suit. Do plan to use it during guest only hours of 8am-10am and 8pm-10pm. The pool gets quite crowded during the day with locals and their families who may pay by the hour. We would have loved to take advantage of the movie theater and the comfy couches with a bar and real food service. It would have been a great place to eat and catch a movie (admission to theater free for hotel guests). We just didn't have the time since we were so busy with the wedding. There are some great eating spots and local stores within walking distance and a convenient grocery store with wine just a block or so over. All in all, it was quirky and fun. We really enjoyed the art on the walls of the old school and all of the original woodwork. Loved writing on the chalkboards in each room. Don't expect your typical chain hotel room and go with the concept.You'll be happy!

Room Tip: The English wing is supposed to be quieter, but there is not much room around the bed. They do have...
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  • Stayed: April 2013, travelled with friends
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Thank dancer735
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 April 2013

I'm trying to be as objective as I can in my reviews. So i gave this place 4 stars, when personally it was more of a 3 star experience for me, but that's just me. It's a converted school house and even though they've done an amazing job with the conversion, it's still clearly a school house. and a big one. a maze of long, cavernous hallways leads to the rooms and all the bars/restaurants/attractions the place has to offer. It's like a mini resort that you never have to leave, which is great because it's not in the most happening neighborhood. As far as the rooms go - you literally sleep in a (partial) class room. Mine had a chalkboard and a closet with coat hangers for the pupils coats. The ceilings are super high, with giant windows. So while some might find the concept neat, and it kind of is, to me it also was slightly creepy and definitely not cosy. Also, there are no TVs. They make up for it with super fast free wireless, but I prefer to plop down on my bed at the end of a busy day, switch on the tv and mindlessly enjoy the maelstrom of garbage that cable has to offer, over actively searching for something that i might like on the internet.

At 110-140 dollars it's a good value for portland though and it's close to the airport. Plus everything feels like it's straight from Portlandia. From the weird/funny decor all over the place to the tatted and pierced staff. Everybody is friendly and competent, so in the end you can have a four star stay here if school houses are your thing.

  • Stayed: March 2013, travelled on business
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1  Thank cosmodrome
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 April 2013

I had heard about this place and finally got a chance to stay for a night. It was a fun place being it was an old school that was converted, room is small, no TV and for the cost $140, I have stayed in a lot better places for that price. The restaurant was OK, I tried their signature burger and found it just average and not worth the $10. One item to note, the speed of this restaurant is horrible, and quite noisy, almost like a cafeteria full of kids with the sounds bouncing off the walls, it is hard to hold a conversation with the person across the table from you. The place has a couple bars, they are small and noisy as well, but they serve a nice selection of beers. All in all, I will not stay here again, I stayed here as I was attending a meeting, but if I go again, I'll stay elsewhere as the uniqueness wears off quickly.

Room Tip: All rooms are fun,
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  • Stayed: April 2013, travelled on business
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Thank Ranbud
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Mel J, Manager at McMenamins Kennedy School, responded to this reviewResponded 20 April 2013

Thank you very much for your feedback. We take your comments very seriously and appreciate your taking the time to let us know. I am sorry to hear that you would not stay with us again. I am addressing your concerns regarding the food and slow service with the restaurant manager and chef. My sincere apologies for not making your stay as wonderful as it should have been.

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Reviewed 15 April 2013

I had only one day in Portland (two nights) and I booked this place hoping I would get a concentrated shot of Portland flavor, which I did. The hotel is wonderful - funky, fun, full of places to eat and drink. I did get a room in the new wing (added on, not part of the school originally) and, as other reviewers said, the room WAS small, but very comfy and of course you have the rest of the place to hang out in. The soaking pool is very nice and was not crowded when I used it (btwn 8 - 10pm, for hotel guests only). If all you did in Portland was go here, you'd be doing pretty good.

  • Stayed: March 2013, travelled with friends
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1  Thank Qarisma
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about McMenamins Kennedy School

Address: 5736 NE 33rd Ave, Portland, OR 97211-7302
Region: United States > Oregon > Portland
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#20 Family Hotel in Portland
#27 Romantic Hotel in Portland
Price Range: £104 - £137 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — McMenamins Kennedy School 3.5*
Number of rooms: 57
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Also Known As:
Mcmenamins Kennedy School Portland

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