Photo courtesy Palisociety

This Portland Hotel Helps Redefine the City's Central Eastside

Portland Epic Stays
by Molly O'Brien Oct 11, 2023

Hotel Grand Stark is a boutique, pet-friendly hotel property sitting in Portland’s eclectic Central Eastside neighborhood. The hotel is tucked away outside the glitz and bustle of the central business district area mirrored across the Willamette River (still easily accessible to downtown landmarks) but is just as sophisticated of a spot to spend the night. This revamped, historic hotel is an elegant and independent space, with walkability to many of the East Side’s top attractions.

The four-story building dates to 1908 and was originally built as a hotel (Hotel Chamberlain) before pivoting to house a well-known local furniture manufacturer for nearly a century. Today, its exterior signage pays homage to the building’s storied past, with the sign showcasing inspiration from the original sign that marked the intersection for most of its history.

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Hotel Grand Stark guest rooms are clean, eclectic, and comfortable

queen room at hotel grand stark

Photo courtesy Palisociety

There are 57 guest rooms including single King, single Queen and Double-bedded options. The spacious, ADA-accessible rooms include roll-in showers. Overall, the bold, modern rooms are designed to feel clean and comfortable — decorated in neutral shades of white, black, and wooden tones with pops of fresh green and teal colors to add life to the spaces.

Rooms come outfitted with a fully-stocked minibar hosting gourmet snacks, a flatscreen television, SMEG refrigerators, and a Nespresso coffee machine — and there are even work desks and cozy nook seating areas in specific rooms. Each guest room has a clean and bright bathroom that features a rain shower, plush robes, and luxurious Diptyque bathroom amenities.

The lobby isn’t a traditional hotel lobby — it’s an art gallery and gathering space

Photo courtesy Palisociety
Photo courtesy Palisociety

Immediately upon walking into the lobby, which is outfitted with tall windows and clean marble fixtures, I could feel a sense of warmth within the bright and airy atmosphere. The lobby area is large and connects a separate communal “Study Hall” room where guests can set up camp for the day and get some work done. This “communal” feeling of welcoming carries throughout the property.

As you step into the spacious, gallery-inspired central lobby, you’ll be walking on shining, sturdy hardwood floors complemented by a background of white-washed walls and architectural elements like modernist archways and tall ceilings that make the room feel even larger and give the space extra dimension. The room is brightened by a central skylight, allowing sunlight to filter in during the day, and chic, industrial-style lighting in the evenings.

Guests can relax amongst the lounge-style seating, which is clustered around the first floor, offering a mix of furniture, including marble tables and comfortable leather chairs. I admired the artwork seen throughout the spaces, which I learned was created by local artists and makers.

Dining options at the Hotel Grand Stark are vibrant and fresh

Photo courtesy Palisociety
Photo courtesy Palisociety

Off to the left of the lobby, you can step into Grand Amari — the upscale and intimate Italian restaurant, which is open for dinner and serves traditional-style dishes of pasta and seafood paired with specially selected wines. In the back right corner of the lobby, slink into Little Bitter Bar — a relaxed and eclectic lobby bar featuring small bites and pizzas paired with an impressive cocktail menu.⁠

The hotel also offers a deli with pastries and light meal fare. This space offers complements the Study Hall and common areas in that you don’t have to head off-site to grab a bite and a coffee before settling in to get some work done.

Explore beyond the hotel walls

Outside, the Central Eastside neighborhood offers echoes of its industrial past but has recently been transformed into a youthful neighborhood boasting a collection of cafes, bars, restaurants, and local artisans. Pro tip: download Portland’s official map-based guide, the “Near Me Now” app, to see where the hottest spots are “near you” in Portland. During my visit, I really enjoyed checking out a couple of the Eastside’s local craft beer spots — including Rogue, Grand Fir Brewing, and Cascade Brewing. I also enjoyed spending time at Exquisite Creatures Coffee, which was a bohemian, plant-based coffee shop that offers beverages and bites in a warm, vibrant setting just steps from the hotel.

Finally, Hopscotch Portland is a must-try. This immersive, experiential gallery is oftentimes sold out for weeks ahead of time — so plan ahead and grab tickets early. The space showcases artists’ work in an inclusive environment, championing its mission to tell stories in a “sustainable and collaborative way.” I checked out Hopscotch while I was in town, and it was really clear to me how powerful of an impact the gallery had on a community of locals and travelers alike. It was a unique and educational art experience.

Rates from: $150 per night

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