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“A Step Back in Time”

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The Historic Union Hotel
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Union
Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
10 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“A Step Back in Time”
Reviewed 7 September 2012

If you enjoy anachronisms just a little off the beaten path, this is the place for you. Union about 20 minutes from highway 84, so the town has already been forgotten by time a little. The Union hotel was perfectly charming in all it's imperfection. We were greeted warmly but not over-enthusiastically by Rosie, the Old-English-Sheepdog/Receptionist. Rosie's assistant then checked us in and shared a little of the history of the place with us before we went to our room. Named The Clark Gable Room on the off chance that he may have stayed there while fishing local streams, it was decorated with a combination of old sportsman gear and Clark Gable movie posters. My partner and I also noticed the room smelled like our grandparents' homes and was as quaint and comfortable and our memories of visiting them as children. We enjoyed exploring all the eccentricities of the space. The deep pile carpet and obviously older mattress activated my bed-bug paranoia just a tad, so we took a few extra precautions.

DO NOT book at this hotel if you prioritize modern convenience and luxury.

DO book at this hotel if you have nostalgia for small towns, warm welcomes, and the comforts of Grandma's spare bedroom.

  • Stayed August 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
7 Thank Amy R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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47 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (13)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 21 June 2011

For my wife's birthday, we booked two nights at The Union Hotel. Built in 1921 (the hotel, not my wife), it's a bit of a gem in the rough, as owners Robert and David work to restore it to its former lustre after purchasing it six years ago. That said, our room was clean, decorated in period detail, and very comfortable. We loved having our two dogs with us, soaking in the claw-foot tub, sipping a cocktail on the veranda and watching small-town Oregon amble by. Common areas are a bit dowdy, but as authentic as authentic could be -- stocked with board games, antiques and books. A communal TV room let us indulge our Food Network jones. The Hotel is just 10 miles from the Catherine Creek trailhead, and 7 miles from the Catherine Creek State Park. The creek rushes by a lovely park next door. The hotel is walking distance from several dining options (pretty basic, but full of down-home charm). Just across the street, Gravy Dave's dishes up monster plates of carbo-fuel for your day's activities. Definitely worth a repeat visit -- or your first, for that matter.

  • Stayed June 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank CathyButterfield
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
East Bay, CA
Level Contributor
147 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 105 helpful votes
Reviewed 22 April 2011

Before reserving this hotel, I read all the trip advisor reviews and despite their mixed nature decided to give it a go because the hotel sounded interesting. It is interesting (I'm writing this review from room 207, carefully sitting on one half of the bed because the ceiling is falling down over the other half). But, it's just not for us. I want to be very descriptive as opposed to evaluative about this hotel because clearly it has charm to some people. If you are that type of person, you may very well like the hotel.
Let me start by saying that the hotel seems to be in the midst of either refurbishment or falling apart. I'm not sure which. We rented two rooms (206 and 207 which together are connected by a bathroom and are called the garden suite). I was unable to see any other rooms so I can't comment on them.
Let me start by saying if you want character, you've come to the right place. My 70 year old father says it reminds him of a residential hotel his dying aunt stayed in back in the 50's.
It's also relatively clean, no major stains or filth anywhere that we ventured (the basement and third floor excepted).
In my room (207) there is a lovely mural of a tree and bird houses and the walls are trimmed with fake (cobwebby) ivy. The air conditioner is affixed with duct tape to my window but at least there is an air conditioner. We were afraid to get into the bathtub--the shower curtain was disgusting and we couldn't quite tell if the bathtub floor was clean, so we avoided that. Each room has a sink (there is no sink in the bathroom). And the toilet front is about 10 inches from the bathtub edge, so it's a tight fit in there.
The other room, 206, is in better shape but it too has cobwebs around the fake vines.
Each room includes a little wicker table (a bit dirty but wicker is hard to keep clean), an alarm clock and a plant as well as in room controlled heat and a radiator that is controlled by the proprietor.
The garden suite is described as bright and sunny. This is true, but it also never gets dark at night and in room 207 you will hear continual traffic noise so bring ear plugs and an eye mask.
Other reviewers mentioned adventure. If you do venture above the 2nd floor or below the first, you will find broken windows, garbage thrown around, windows packed with towels, etc. Clearly, this is a work in progress (or decline). Hard to see any evidence of work going on, but maybe they are waiting for the economy to pick up.
In the common areas, there is a large room with tables, chairs and games. These rooms seem clean and spacious. But the entire hotel reeks of old cigarette smoke (maybe new cigarette smoke too--hard to distinguish).
There is a tv room on the second floor but it's very dark and dank and we didn't have the courage to sit in it.
The proprietor we met is also a character. But he was accommodating when we rang the bell. He didn't bother to tell us much about the hotel (there is hot tea and coffee available in the morning, but he didn't mention it--maybe it's not always there). We didn't have much contact with him and never saw him standing at the desk. But I think we were the only guests so he probably didn't have much to do.
Out back, they rent RV spaces, and several of those were rented. The hotel sits at the edge of the city park and the river is just across the park and you'll see the mountains surrounding the town, so it is pretty here.
You can walk to several restaurants and the general store which is pretty comprehensive for such a small town.
I actually don't want to make the hotel sound terrible because I think it may appeal to some people. It just wasn't what we want in a hotel. The price is right and you get what you pay for.
My best advice, for what it's worth, is to not make a reservation, to show up and ask to see some rooms and if you like them, make a reservation. If not, head back to La Grande (20 miles or so) and stay at a chain.

Room Tip: see the rooms before you reserve
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  • Stayed April 2011, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank luluEastBay
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Portland, Oregon
Level Contributor
5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed 13 April 2011

Each time I stay at the Union Hotel, I find I don’t want to leave. Consequently, each stay at this wonderful old hotel becomes longer than the last. I absolutely adore this place. I have spent birthdays here, holidays – and most recently a celebration of my Oregon homecoming. I now live clear across the state from Union, Oregon – but you can bet that mere distance won’t keep me away. It is a wonderful place when you need to escape, decompress, feel the quiet and gentility of a past age. ( I KNOW I need this place!)

You walk in the door of the Union Hotel and you feel a great sense of calm. The lobby is huge and welcoming, quaint in the way that “parlors” and your great aunt’s house were quaint. It feels right. You get a sense of history, of a less hurried, frantic time. A sign on the desk says “Be Nice or Leave.” I like that.

The present owners have taken great pains (and given blood, sweat and tears!) to renovate this old 1921 hotel that once served as a “retirement” residence. Rob and Dave have given so much of themselves to bring a little bit of Oregon history to life. And since I’m a big believer in supporting private/family ownership – as versus putting more money into the pockets of big-box hotel CEOs – it would be great if more people would follow suit and keep “small business” alive! The Union Hotel is SO worth your patronage. It is a treasure.

Besides all the necessary comforts, a choice of individually-decorated rooms, and blissful peace and quiet, this hotel gives you the satisfaction of knowing you are not getting ripped off. The price is more than fair, the accommodations clean and cozy – AND should you be traveling with your canine companion, three of the hotel’s rooms are pet-friendly . (I love “Aline’s Room”!) The pet fee is a reasonable one-time fee and is NOT per pet, per night, as many other hotels do. (If you travel with two little dogs, as I do, these fees can practically double the cost of your room!)

I’ll admit I have a special place in my heart for historic old hotels, especially those where it’s obvious the owners really care. Once you enter the lobby of the historic Union Hotel, you’ll see what I mean. And the surrounding town, Union, Oregon is a wonderful place for walking and sight-seeing and enjoying a more relaxed pace. (They even have an original Carnegie Library!) There is a park with a gazebo right next to the hotel as well as a scenic river walk. (Great for bicycling, dog-walking, picture-taking!)

It’s particularly beautiful in the fall – which is when I’m going back again!

Room Tip: Just ask Rob!
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  • Stayed March 2011
    • Value
    • Location
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
2 Thank twodogsrule
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New Orleans, Louisiana
Level Contributor
51 reviews
27 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 November 2010

This was my second visit to the hotel. It's old and has its quirks and irks, but they're outnumbered by the charm. The lobby is beautiful and stately, with antique furniture, original flooring, and old fashioned desk. Lots of interesting old photos and artifacts. The restaurant has been closed for some time and there are apparently no plans to reopen it. To have a nice meal, you have to drive to LaGrande, about 15 minutes away. The rooms are nicely decorated, and each has a different theme. I believe in supporting properties like this because one of these days there won't be any of them left.

  • Stayed October 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Treadaway
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Eastern Oregon
Level Contributor
16 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
Reviewed 27 September 2010

The Union Hotel was built in 1921 on what was then a main east-west highway. Decades later the Interstate bypassed Union by a dozen miles. Still later some entrepreneurs decided to restore/refurbish the hotel.

I first became aware of the Union Hotel almost 20 years ago when I attended a meeting held there. This month I finally had a reason to stay overnight in Union.

The hotel looks much as it no doubt did in 1921, which is good. However, in an apparent attempt to preserve the "feel" of the 1920s the owners have declined to put telephones or televisions or wi-fi access in the rooms. How they justified the window air conditioners I don't know. If there is an ice machine it's a secret.

The restaurant was closed while I was there; don't know if or when it will re-open.

My room was clean, the plumbing worked, and the bed was not uncomfortable. Across the hall was a telephone booth/room for guests, but the phone had been disconnected. There is a small TV lounge with satellite TV, but no simple channel guide, and the sofas in there will swallow you alive. There was no folder or binder with local information or hotel information in my room, but there was a journal in which guests are invited to write down their comments. I read every entry in the book, which goes back to 2006. Many people absolutely raved about the room and the hotel. Apparently they have had limited experience with anything older than a Motel 6.

The gentleman I dealt with at the front desk, presumably one of the owners, was only superficially friendly. Didn't really want to chat, even about his own hotel. I found that odd, as the owners have obviously invested a lot of time, money, and attention in the place.

If you want the atmosphere of the 1920s you will find it here. If you want amenities and lots of attention, you won't find those. It's just a small, quaint, quiet little old hotel. I could tolerate a few concessions to the real world of 2010 along with my historic preservation, thank you very much.

  • Stayed September 2010, travelled on business
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
1 Thank dubuquer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Oregon
1 review
Reviewed 23 August 2009

The pictures were nice on the web site, and the whole idea of the themes in the rooms is a fun and cute. I heard that the old owners kept the place clean, but if the other rooms were at all like the one we stayed in, (The Garden Room) the only creatures having a good time there would be the dust mites.

Spider webs and cobwebs abound in the ivy work around the top of the 2 rooms, with several flies stuck or smashed on them or on the wall. If you open a window for fresh air, stand back while the dust blows into your face. Our room came complete with hair in the sheets, and sink drains. Feces on the toilet rim. The blue carpet was covered with spots, matted dirt, and lots of dust and particles around the edges. The shower was so disgusting smelling, besides looking, that one of our party opted out of taking a shower and favored chancing body odor over the adventure that awaits in the shower.

We wouldn't take off our shoes in the room, the floor was so dirty. We also drove to LaGrande Walmart to buy new pillows (which we left there) and cheap sleeping bags instead of risking catching whatever was left over in the sheets. The bathroom light didn't work at all so we also got a cheap battery powered tap light to use at night. No exhaust fan in the bathroom.

The paint was falling off of the ceiling in the one room in a huge chunk, a large patch of paint dangling over the cute but very old bed. The springs could easily be felt, and the sagging bed was not much for good sleep. The sink faucet in our room was partially plugged, and so it shot water all over the place when you tried to use it.

This room is noisy in the morning with lots of traffic out your window. Who could guess in such a small town that so many loud trucks and tractors could go by early in the morning?

OK the place is a dirt bomb, but that was only the half of it. The manager/clerk/owner? (who ever he was that ran the front desk and stayed there) is a pervert. He make enough comments about porn that I wouldn't be surprised at all if there are hidden camera's in the bathrooms and/or rooms. He made some especially vile comments toward my daughter and wife. We will be watching our credit card closely for fraud, this guy is shifty.

"Park your car on the street because we don't have any police here, and the kids might break into your car at night if you park behind the Hotel." is what the desk guy told us.

They were preparing the upper floor of the hotel as a Haunted House (for Halloween) , but nothing could be as scary up there as was the room we stayed in.

  • Stayed August 2009, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank RVwannabe_9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about The Historic Union Hotel

Property: The Historic Union Hotel
Address: 326 N Main St, P.O. Box 522, Union, OR 97883-8901
Region: United States > Oregon > Union
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Kitchenette Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Union
Number of rooms: 15

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