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“Bringing the fun back into school”

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McMenamins Kennedy School
Ranked #31 of 144 Hotels in Portland
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 1 September 2013

We spent two nights at the Kennedy School and thoroughly loved the uniqueness of the accomodation. Our son loved the black slate chalkboards in Miss Dobie's room. We had a queen bed and a roll away cot which was very comfortable. We stayed in a room in the main school as we wanted a room with character. The hotel also has a new addition with brand new rooms for those who want a more modern environment.
My son LOVED the afternoon movies that they show in the auditorium. If you stay at the hotel, you get admission to the show. The nice thing about the experience is that you can cozy down on a loveseat in this big auditorium and you can even order food which the servers bring to you during the movie. From popcorn to pints of beer, they aim to please.
If someone in your group is into smoking cigars, they have the "detention room" which is a little room that allows people to either purchase or bring their own cigars and cigarettes in to smoke. It is also a bar.
The hotel is a truly unique place and the experience is one of a kind. Beware if you are a tv addict as the rooms in the school part do not have tvs! Our only issue with the hotel was that some of the rooms do not have enough dresser drawer space to store your clothes during your stay. Hopefully they will eventually equip each room with this ammenity.
We would definitely stay here again! What a great way to repurpose a school.

Room Tip: If you want modern...go for the new section...if you want to relive your school days again...go for...
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  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled with family
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Thank suziem
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Gloria M, Manager at McMenamins Kennedy School, responded to this reviewResponded 5 September 2013

Thank you for taking the time to post your wonderful experience. Come back and see us soon.

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366 - 372 of 617 reviews

Reviewed 30 August 2013

I spent a week around Portland (my first time there), all in different McMenamins hotels. There was a 1905 brothel/"dive" saloon, a 1905 country hotel, the 1911 County Poor Farm and this 1915 former elementary school in what used to be the boonies. Each are unique, but I think Kennedy's is the one closest to bringing me back in time, to my own school days. The halls are lined with original art worth a good look. Pick up self-guided tour info in the lobby detailing each piece with it's background. It's a fascinating hour. McMenamins always decorates their hotels with original artwork by local artists invited to read up on the history of the place and go wildly creative. In addition to curlicues of glass tiles rippling along the top of all the walls, murals and framed art and historic photos of bygone classes and teachers and kids are everywhere. I especially loved the class photos from the 20s and 30s, and the original painting of the state of the classrooms prior to McMenamins' rennovation (trashed) is really intriguing. Another interesting note is that many of the lighting fixtures, pendant lamps, sconces and two very large wrought-iron gates now framing murals were all installed originally in the 1890 Hotel Portland, THE hotel at the turn of the century for the rich and famous in downtown Portland (look up photos) that was demolished in the 50s to make way for--wait for it!--a department store parking lot. Yes, they did that a lot in the 50s. One of the demolition crewmen, heartsick over the destruction and astonished that owners planned no salvage, paid a few hundred $ for 24-hrs hold on demolition and rights to salvage anything. He and his wife took as many fixtures as they could rip out all night long and held them in their garage for decades. He had no plan to sell, but just to give things away to deserving renovation projects. McMenamins is quite proud of their small collection in several hotels. Kennedy has a few. Those wrought-iron gates once graced the hotel entrance courtyard. The lobby pendant lamp and the one outside the principal's office are really cool and worth a look.

The original classrooms of this figure-8-shaped rambling school were quite large, with 12-foot ceilings and enormous high windows that cover the exterior walls, letting in a lot of light. Each classroom was divided into 2 guest rooms with added bathrooms without destroying the original floorplan. You are assigned to a classroom, all with keycarded doors, and within that, a long hall with blackboards and an old telephone intercom separates the two guestrooms, each with a unique name (and another keycard!). The staff must have a ball decorating the blackboards as they please. My room was in the NW corner on the front of the building and I was lucky to get the one with the blackboard closets. Only one of each pair of rooms gets the wall of former cloak closets with roll up wooden doors faced with blackboards (and nailed into place so only one is permanently open. The remainder were mirrors or elaborately chalked blackboards. There's a built in bookshelf in the corner and a reading lamp and antique wing chair if you want to curl up with a book. Also a very massive vintage desk you could use as shelter in a tornado. The queen bed sports a beautiful Indonesian carved wooden headboard. All of McMenamins hotels tend toward soft squishy mattresses, so beware if you are a stomach sleeper or have a bad back. The bathroom is modern with a pedestal sink and small shelves. The house-branded amenities are nice and the showers always have great water pressure and plenty of hot water. The towels are the thick ones that do the job and don't just smear the water around.

The hotel itself offers so much to do that you should plan an entire evening just checking things out. All McMenamins offer a plethora of bars and drink attractions, but even the teetotelers should check out the Boiler Room bar, a huge multi-level bar that was the former boiler room (remember this place was in farmland) and now sports shuffleboard, pizza, and a decidedly Victorian Industrial look, with balustrades like reconstituted machinery and pipes running all whichways. Supercool. I was there on the 4th of July, and this place was more packed than Malibu beach in summer, so I couldn't even get in. Likewise the classier Cypress Room lounge, the cigar-smoke filled Detention Bar (they're SO bad there), the outdoor patio and the halls were even packed. I had a drink in the cozy little Honors Bar until all the crowds evaporated after dark (private event in the Gymnasium) and I was able to get into the suddenly empty Cypress for another round. It's so awesome to be able to wander between all these bars and try them out. I asked if I could take the rest of my wine back to my room and sure, no problem.

There's also a narrow little soaking pool in this small courtyard, but it's open to the public during the day, and usually busy all hours. Instead, go see a complimentary movie. There's a great theatre (and another bar!) with overstuffed comfy couches showing a couple recent movies, one for the kids and one for the grownups that rotate. I'd recommend taking the 20 minute drive to Edgefield to check that out if you're not planning on staying there also. They have a great brewery and one awesome wine tasting bar that could keep you happy all night. Kennedy has a great gift shop too, but Edgefield's is HUGE. If you can squeeze a bottle of booze in your luggage, get it now, because they don't ship outside Oregon!

So if anyone is heading back toward L.A., could you bring me a bottle of that Black Cat Coffee Liqueur? Because my luggage was full of all that wine and I had no room!

Room Tip: For the most unique experience, go for the historic original school building rather than the newer...
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  • Stayed: July 2013, travelled solo
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1  Thank native210
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Gloria M, Manager at McMenamins Kennedy School, responded to this reviewResponded 5 September 2013

Thank you for your wonderful review. We look forward to seeing you again!

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Reviewed 29 August 2013

Despite speaking to three people at the front desk and also a member of management, we were not offered any discount or perk for our stay that was marred by a very cold room. Oh wait, one of them did offer an extra blanket for our two night stay. The temperature for the rooms is controlled by the central monitoring by the front desk for the different blocks of rooms. Our room, we were told, was at 60 degrees. They raised the temperature, but it still remained very cold. I wore a fleece jacket to bed, besides the three blankets.
On top of that the walls must be thin, as I woke at 2 am to laughing and talking, for which I had to call the front office. Immediately I heard the phone ring in the same room, upon which the laughing and loud talk stopped. No apology from management for that instance either. Good luck with all that if you decide to stay in the section that is the school and not the English wing, which does not have queen beds, which cannot accommodate a rollaway bed. We were to have stayed 4 nights but checked out after 2.
Finally, the "soaking pool": they allow the public to come in for a flat rate fee. The hallway jams up with parents and toddlers as you try to make your way to the front desk to check-in. With the amount of toddlers I saw using the pool, I would not trust their bladder control to the purity of any sanitized water.

Stayed: August 2013, travelled with family
2  Thank Sarah S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Gloria M, Manager at McMenamins Kennedy School, responded to this reviewResponded 1 September 2013

Thank you for your feedback. I sincerely apologize for the way this situation was handle. I will be talking with our staff and manager you spoke with as well. I will be addressing the issue with our facilities coordinator to see what we can do in the future to prevent this from happening. I will be sending you a private message to discuss this and see what we can do to make this right. This is not our standard of customer service and am hoping we can win you back.

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Reviewed 26 August 2013

My husband and I have stayed at McMenamins Kennedy School two separate times and loved it both times! I'll break it down into points...

+UNIQUE! I'm always looking for a unique experience. I'm sick of staying in your cookie-cutter hotels. This is extremely unique! It is a beautiful old elementary school that you can now stay in... how cool is that? Our room had a chalk board, a coat room, the ABCs on the wall, floor to ceiling windows, VERY COOL! It had a very reminiscent vibe.

+TONS under one roof! This isn't just somewhere to stay/sleep, it has restaurants, bars, entertainment... we spent the entire evening/night there both times without venturing into Portland! They have a CIGAR BAR! The boiler room bar was my favorite, it's the actual old boiler room of the school (!), it's multi-level, has games (pool, shuffleboard), and you could just sit in there for hours looking at all the old pipes, artwork, etc. They also have a theater (the old school auditorium) where they play movies, but no movie chairs... big sofas and arm chairs! You can bring in pitchers of beer and food or have it brought to you - watching a movie there is still one of our most memorable moments from our trip.

-Busy! Being such a popular and unique place, it's very busy. Reserve early, get in line early for the movie, and expect to wait for a while to eat! However, in my opinion, it's worth it!

-Noisy! What do you expect? It's super busy and a SUPER fun atmosphere! If you're looking for a relaxing, quiet getaway, this isn't it. However, I'm a light sleeper, and I was just fine. It's just something that you notice when you're up in your room.

Overall, I LOVE this place and honestly have been looking for comparable places anywhere else... and haven't been able to find one! I highly suggest trying it out!

  • Stayed: October 2012, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Courtney M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Gloria M, Manager at McMenamins Kennedy School, responded to this reviewResponded 28 August 2013

Thank you for your wonderful review and comments. This is truly and unique place and experience. We look forward to seeing you a third time!

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Reviewed 25 August 2013

My husband and I were visiting Portland to attend my sons wedding. I made the reservations 6 months ago and called this week to make sure we would have a/c. We are from Florida and don't think we can live without it. The hotel had booked us in the wing that had been part of the school which was without air conditioning, but moved us to the English wing which has smaller newer rooms with air. We have enjoyed the brewery (try Ruby beer) and the staff is very accommodating. The gift shop even gave me a bag and tissue to wrap a present I purchased elsewhere. We enjoyed the fish tacos in the restaurant. I would recommend for a unique stay.

Stayed: August 2013, travelled as a couple
Thank BarbandMike0
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Gloria M, Manager at McMenamins Kennedy School, responded to this reviewResponded 28 August 2013

Thank you for taking the time to review us. I am glad we were able to accommodate your request. I am pleased the individual AC units in the new English wing rooms were more to your liking. We do have central AC in all of our rooms in the original school house building, unfortunately there is no option for individaul control of the heating and cooling system in these rooms. We aim to please and look forward to your next vist!

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Reviewed 18 August 2013

From what I can well, the McMenamins buy historic properties, and turn them into absolutely brilliant hotels/pubs/and more!

I have been to at least 4, and all have impressed me.

They brew their own beer, make their own wine and distill some great spirits. (all of them are fantastic)


They do a European style hotel at this site, where there is no shower/bath in the room, just so you know. But there was sink in all of my rooms, and the great people, murals, atmosphere made everything great. Bathroom in the hall, it works! I cannot recommend any hotels better for my style of NW traveling. If you stay at one of their properties, you will go again for sure.

Room Tip: All rooms are good rooms.
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  • Stayed: September 2012, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank JKVancouver
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Gloria M, Manager at McMenamins Kennedy School, responded to this reviewResponded 20 August 2013

Thank you for your wonderful feedback and support. There are so many fun things to do on our properties from the restaurant, to the small bars, brewery, hotel, gift shop, soaking pool, and theater. You are correct about most of our hotels having European style bathrooms, but here at the Kennedy School all of our rooms do have their own private bathrooms. Please be sure to stop by and see us again!

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Reviewed 16 August 2013

We stayed at the Kennedy School for a night during a recent visit to Portland. It's a very nice property - beautiful gardens filled with happy bees, lots of elements left over from its days as a school. We stayed in the English Wing. Our room was spotless, everything appeared to be very new, there was a quiet and efficient A/C-fan unit, as well as a nice opening window with blackout blinds. We had a great sleep, and were very comfortable overall. Staff were without exception friendly and helpful. On the day we visited it, the soaking pool was quite crowded with splashy kids, but it was pleasant nonetheless. It would be nice if the hotel would consider extending the soaking pool hours designated for guests only slightly. Would definitely stay here again.

  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank seaward14
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Gloria M, Manager at McMenamins Kennedy School, responded to this reviewResponded 17 August 2013

Thank you for your comments. We are glad you enjoyed your stay. The new rooms in our English wing are amazing and the art work is grand. We will definately take into consideration your comments about the soaking pool hours for guest. I will private message you to receive a little more feedback. We hope to see you again soon.

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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:
#27 Romantic Hotel in Portland
#29 Family Hotel in Portland
Price Range: £135 - £196 (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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Mcmenamins Kennedy School Portland

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