Anyone of my readers from the Portland area knows about McMenamins (or at least I assume they do as it is a well established institution in the Portland area). They make a habit of buying old historic properties around the area and refurbishing them into hotel/resorts, pubs, theaters and restaurants. They have a great happy hour at the pubs where you can get a $4 cheese burger w/fries w/a $2 min. drink purchase. Their specialty burgers are fun and I have heard their house ales are excellent*.
Anyway, they recently opened their latest über chic hotel located in the heart of down town Portland, just off the Pearl District. I wouldn’t be bringing this up at all if not for the fact that this new hotel, The Crystal Hotel (to go w/the Crystal Ballroom) is a former gay bath house and the area that it is located in what used to be known as the ‘gay triangle’ (or in some cases ‘Vaseline Alley’). It was called this due to the fact that most of the down town gay bars, the former bath house Club Portland and the former location of the Silverado (well known local gay bar, best known for the strippers), and thusly it was the local hot spot of the gay night life.
I remember when the bath house closed because I lived a few blocks away (I never went because I’m not allowed + its just not my personal scene) and I remember wondering what would take its place? Well the owners of McMenamins decided to buy it and turn it into the new hotel, which boasts 51 fabulous rooms, each inspired by a song or performance from the Crystal Ballroom’s last 100 years, including James Brown, The Flaming Lips, Blondie, The White Stripes, and Arcade Fire. My personal favorite is the Allen Ginsberg “Howl” room (photo featured below not by me, source page here), as he is one of my favorite gay poets. The rates are a bit outrageous (but that could just be my opinion as I do not travel and if I do, I stay w/friends or family of some sort), and I hear its impossible to get a reservation at the moment since they just opened, but its good to see something done w/the space rather than it standing empty (though I personally feel it should have been something gay owned, themed & operated, and I’m willing to wager I’m not the only one who feels this way).
You can read more in depth about the hotel, its rates, the bar/cafe, the crystal ballroom and all that jazz on the McMenamins website.
|Photo from Just Out online sneak peek article|
*NOTE: I say I have ‘heard’ their ales are good as this is based on word of mouth not personal experience. I am allergic to hops and, not only can I not drink beer, I can not drink any alcohol of any kind. (so I probably wont be doing any cocktail reviews or recipe posts…though I do have an EXCELLENT recipe for cranberry whiskey lemonade that I made for the guests at my wedding after party)