Last weekend was my first stay at a Kimpton property when I took the
train bus down to Portland to have dinner with some readers. I wrote earlier about my status match with Kimpton, which should earn me about 11 free nights this year. Six of those free nights are at new hotels, and new changes to the terms and conditions of status matches require at least three paid nights before they become available. Sounds like a mission to me. 😉
The Hotel Vintage Plaza was actually one of the cheaper options that night and is centrally located between the Pearl District’s bars and restaurants, the Amtrak station, and the downtown shopping core. I was able to get there on foot about ten minutes after arriving at the station without needing much direction. However, it does blend into the city. The adjacent hotel, which is flashier and has big glass picture windows, contrasts with the Hotel Vintage Plaza’s historic building and always-missing doorman. However, once inside, it was very charming.
The name “Vintage Plaza” was fitting. Much of the decor could be described as vintage, although I guess that’s all the rage in hipster meccas like Seattle and Portland. The building actually has a narrow courtyard heading all the way up to a skylight, creating lots of natural daylight and opening up the hallways despite the hotel’s compact size.
I was greeted immediately at the front desk, and when the manager overheard my name she came over to greet me personally. I’m not sure how much of my experience is related to my first stay as an Inner Circle member or my first stay at a Kimpton, but I did get the impression watching other guests during that evening’s wine reception (free for all guests) that the service is generally warm and inviting.
No mention was made of an upgrade at check-in, but I arrived at my room on the ninth floor to see I had a name on the door. Named suites are always cool. 😉 Request the Van Duzer suite by name so you can tell your friends you stayed in the same room as Scott Mackenzie!
I walked in and saw a large but otherwise normal hotel room. There was a stuffed animal on the bed, which was cute, but nothing unusual until I turned the corner. The table by the back wall had an inflatable palm tree and several minis of gin and tonic water on ice. Windows were draped with tropical scenes. The desk had cookies, bread, cheese, candy, and more. There was even a note saying they would send up a glass of milk to enjoy with my cookies if I asked!
I wrote more about this last week if you missed it. I was in such shock I actually went back downstairs to talk to the manager and make sure this wouldn’t happen every time. They were just having fun because it was my first stay, but I was glad to have some friends with whom I could share my bounty. I’ve also heard that some Inner Circle members have received both the custom amenity and the $10 minibar credit provided to InTouch members. This wasn’t offered to me, but the options did seem extensive — in addition to what was in the fridge below.
Because I was in town for such a short time, I didn’t really enjoy the extra space the suite provided, but I can say the bed was very comfortable. The couch I was not a fan of. It had too little padding and the arms were small. To get a sense of my style, I have a La-Z-Boy at home that Megan keeps threatening to burn.
What was special about this suite is that, after coming back from a quick shopping trip, I noticed that one of the “windows” was actually a glass door to a private outdoor desk. And on that deck were four chairs and a hot tub! In Portland of all places! This is why I always pack a bathing suit.
Reports I’ve read online suggest that it is quite common for Inner Circle members to get nice upgrades. Most hotels are small so the policy is basically “best room available,” and because it isn’t a widely known chain, the number of Inner Circle members is relatively low. Prepare to be impressed with extra amenities like my hot tub or, in the case of a future stay I have at booked at the Alexis in Seattle, rooms with fireplaces or even special themes. These are, in my opinion more important than sheer space because they create a feeling of being at home. My apartment is not large, but it’s comfy.
Moving back to the bathroom, the setup was fairly standard and is one reason I didn’t really perceive this as a suite when I first entered. However, the toiletries were a step up from what I often find at similarly priced hotels. Gilchrist & Soames happens to be one of my favorites. Some might mind, though I don’t, that they were provided in large hand pump bottles. At least they were topped off.
There was another note waiting for me in the bathroom, inviting me to a free coffee or juice at breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant. I did not take them up on the offer as I had already booked a AAA rate that included a $20 food and beverage credit, which was enough to cover my entire bill.
Breakfast was quite good — not surprising for a company officially named “Kimpton Hotel and Restaurant Group.” I make salmon scrambles all the time, but I don’t usually see them at hotels, nor have I ever seen walnut bread offered as an option for toast. Plus they had Caffe Vita, my preferred Seattle coffee roaster.
I have known for a long time that Kimtpon can be a little quirky. When they opened the Cypress Hotel in my hometown of Cupertino, I remember my dad commenting that, though it was leagues above the competition, it was “some weird hotel with animal prints all over the place.”
I didn’t notice anything too extreme at the Hotel Vintage Plaza beyond Kimpton’s standard animal print robes and a subtle zebra pattern (white on white) woven into the sheets. The lesson, however, is two-fold. First, even if you don’t think there’s a Kimpton at your destination, you should check anyway. Second, “different” doesn’t have to be a bad word. I can’t remember the last time I had an experience quite as personable as this one, even when I’ve been upgraded to the Presidential Suite or received a cake for my birthday.