For those of us who call Portland home, we can sometimes take for granted the bounty which is available in our own backyard. We can forget the reasons why so many people visit the city over and over again. It’s a city with big heart– loyal sports fans, outdoor enthusiasts, beer lovers, and a thriving restaurant scene.
The walkability of neighborhoods make happy hour hoping a must, as you can easily eat and drink your way into a food coma on the cheap. Green spaces and river front access make it easy to spend the afternoon outside people watching and getting lost. Portland has just as much to offer the out of town visitor as it does the born and bred local.
Staycations are the best way to rediscover your own city and to escape the little bubble we sometimes create for ourselves out of routine. When I was approached by River’s Edge Hotel and Spa to give my honest, and locally- minded opinion of their facilities, obviously I agreed. I was eager to discover the elusive and burgeoning southwest water front district with my sister, the talented photographer of Beth Olson Creative.
Upon our arrival we were greeted by valet who took care of our parking needs as we checked in. We were given a tour of the hotel, restaurant, and spa with the Director of Sales, before entering our boutique style room with king size bed and balcony overlooking the Willamette River. River’s Edge offers 99 guests rooms as well as 18 one bedroom suites, all with sweeping views of the west hills or the river front.
After dropping our bags off in the room, we headed to the bar in the adjoining Aquariva Restaurant to enjoy happy hour. We partook in a few speciality cocktails created in-house: the Willamette Valley Sour and the Spiced Pear Martini, both unique and refreshing. We enjoyed chatting with the helpful staff about our beer sampler highlighting a wide range of local brews and ciders.
And those views! Aquariva boasts some of the best river front views I’ve ever experienced, which only adds to the laid back ambiance of the restaurant. We were pleased to find out that many items on the happy hour and the dinner menu use fresh and local ingredients, most sourced as locally as possible.
I love outdoor seating, and Aquariva has no shortage of comfortable, classic dining under shade umbrellas with unobstructed views of the river. We enjoyed watching dragon boats and sail boats go by, as we relished our local, fresh dinner and white wine.
As the evening continued, we wanted to enjoy our balcony with some more wine and snacks. The hotel does offer limited choices of both, but for an inflated price we were not willing to pay. One important fact we learned that evening, is that almost everything closes at 9 pm in the southwest water front. Cafes, restaurants, convenient stores, you name it, and it is closed. So we combined our survival skills knowledge and dialed up an UBER to take us to the nearest 7-11 a few miles way, where we loaded up on supplies.
The next morning we missed our complementary breakfast in the restaurant because, wine. Yes, we may have dropped the ball on that opportunity, but it did force us to venture out and explore the waterfront district in search of sustenance, which we found at Bambuza, a Vietnamese Bistro. The south west water front is home to medical centers, condos, retirement living, dotted with anxious businesses ready for the neighborhood boom. Green spaces tucked away between towering buildings, farmer’s markets, and easily accessible public transport make a riverfront revival apparent.
We made our way back to the hotel just in time for our 90 minute Eminence Custom Facials at the Spa at River’s Edge. We enjoyed a glass of champagne with our foot soak + scrub before heading to individual rooms for our facials which included one facial waxing. Face, hands, and feet received luxurious masks and hydration during the treatment, and there was no rush before or after our appointment, so we enjoyed the relaxing waiting area in our guest robes, sipping on refreshing fruit infused water.
We appreciated the hotel’s complementary car service to downtown where we met up with a friend and enjoyed a bustling happy hour out in the sun. We made our way back in time to take advantage of the complimentary bike rentals, and we cruised along the river front bike path, on a mission to locate the beer cart we came across earlier in the day. Scout Beer offers rotating taps, a compliment to the the food cart pod directly across the street. However, the food carts all closed before 9pm, so we had to search elsewhere for dinner.
We hopped on the street car with our bikes and found a local pizza place to eat at near Portland State campus. Again, we took the street car back to the hotel and checked the bikes back in before retiring to our comfortably air conditioned room.
After a quick and seamless checkout, valet brought our car around and we took off for our beloved east side. Reflecting back on the two day experience, we both felt like we could say, ” I knew the southwest water front when..” There is no doubt that the south west water front district is on the verge of becoming the next “it” neighborhood for the many transplants moving to the city. The potential is thick in the air, store fronts are waiting to be filled, and River’s Edge Hotel and Spa, a cornerstone of the area, is projecting great things in the near future, and will be undergoing a massive renovation beginning in November 2016, remodeling some of the facilities as well as updating the hotel, spa, and restaurant to better reflect the needs and style of the changing neighborhood.
River’s Edge offers a boutique hotel experience influenced by natural and urban surroundings, with amenities encouraging visitors to get out and enjoy the city. Having the opportunity to explore a new part of my city while also getting pampered with stunning views, spa treatments, and delicious local food, it’s no surprise that this is a highly recommend spot for first time visitors to Portland, as well as locals looking for river inspired, happy hour bliss.