Alternative lodging in Portland

From micro cabins to a converted elementary school, these accommodations keep it weird (and comfortable).

CC balloonsCaravan, America's first tiny house hotel, also hosts live entertainment.
Jeffrey Freeman

Portland is loaded with traditional hotel offerings, from five-star downtown digs to handy airport locales. But in the city that likes to “keep it weird,” sometimes only an offbeat overnight will do. Luckily, travelers can take their pick of creative and comfy options, from gorgeous garden cabins to historic rock ‘n’ roll hotels.

McMenamins Historic Hotels

When Mike and Brian McMenamin converted a former Swedish church into a movie theater and pub in 1987, no one suspected they were launching one of the Northwest’s most inimitable empires. At the center of the McMenamins’ constellation of brewpubs, music venues and theater pubs is a stable of historical hotels, each lovingly — and irreverently — restored to commemorate a rich past.

Kennedy School

The Kennedy School is in a class of it own. Literally. This repurposed 1915-era elementary school still contains century-old chalkboards and cloakrooms, but don’t be fooled — craft beer and cozy guest rooms replace books and grades in this hotel. Visitors imbibe in Concordia Brewery, chow down in the Courtyard Restaurant, unwind in the saltwater soaking pool and pair pub fare with flicks at the in-house theater.

Crystal Hotel

A rock ‘n’ roll vibe pervades at the Crystal Hotel. Set across the street from the celebrated McMenamins Crystal Ballroom music venue, rooms feature musical themes inspired by a century of acts at the Crystal. Guests can grab a bite in the hotel’s Zeus Café before catching a show or heading out on the town, and relax afterward with a drink at Al’s Den and a disco nap in the soaking pool.

White Eagle Saloon

Known as one of the most haunted places in Portland, the White Eagle, a former hub for Polish immigrants, is steeped in stories of spirits, Shanghai tunnels and rockin’ concerts. The White Eagle shows off its pedigree as one of the city’s oldest live music venues, decorated with painted lyrics and vintage photos of past performances.


Kuza Garden Cabin

Nestled within a gorgeous Japanese garden behind the chic Yakuza Lounge, the Kuza Garden Cabin repurposes a remodeled 1922 carriage house. Order up private spa treatments, dinner packages and hot tub and cold plunge tub access. Bonus: Guests are only steps away from an enticing array of popular Northeast eateries, including Beast, DOC and the aforementioned Yakuza.

The Colony

Hidden away in the eccentric St. Johns neighborhood, home to the iconic St. Johns Bridge, this multi-faceted event space includes two fully furnished, modern apartments available for overnight stays. Adventurous guests at the Colony may also elect to stay in the “Hide Away,” a refurbished vintage travel trailer outfitted with a queen-sized platform bed and built-in breakfast nook for lazy mornings.

Travelers’ House

Near the fun and funky Alberta Arts District, Travelers’ House offers boutique hostel lodging in a renovated house featuring private and dorm-style rooms with shared facilities. The commercial-grade kitchen is perfect for getting hands-on with local bounty. If you’d rather let others do the cooking, you’ll find options just to the north on Albina, or head south and the street turns into Mississippi Avenue, full of great dining, shopping and imbibing destinations.

Shift Rentals

With locations in both the Alberta Arts District and on Mississippi Avenue, Shift Rentals offers comfortable rental homes for large and small groups. The Alberta Street duplex contains two luxury apartments, which can be rented either individually or together, and can sleep up to 10 and six people respectively. The North Mississippi Avenue location consists of a 1920’s bungalow house in the front and a second eco-house in the back, sleeping up to nine and 11 respectively.


Portland Hostel Hawthorne District

Opened in 1984, Portland Hostel Hawthorne District has welcomed thousands of frugal travelers with its colorful mosaics, verdant backyard gardens and a bohemian spirit emblematic of the Hawthorne District. The hostel has earned gold Sustainability at Work certification from the city, thanks to its rainwater collection system, on-site composting and other eco-friendly practices.

Northwest Portland Hostel

The Northwest Portland Hostel comprises a quartet of charming historic houses in the heart of Nob Hill. With 24-hour access, walkability to bustling Nob Hill (and the Portland Streetcar) and dorm beds starting at $25, this friendly hostel is ideal for budget-conscious global trekkers.

Tiny Houses


As America’s first tiny house hotel, Caravan offers truly unique accommodations for adventurous visitors in the trendy Alberta Arts District. These custom-built, self-contained trailers each fit a fully functioning kitchen, bathroom and sleeping space for one to four into 100-200 square feet. Communal fire pits, barbecue grills and Adirondack chairs provide plenty of opportunity to kick back outside, as does quick access to neighborhood bars and restaurants.

Slabtown Village

Slabtown Village in Northwest Portland is comprised of two historical houses and four modern tiny houses. The historic homes, built in 1875 but fully renovated in 2017–’18, both honor famous Portlanders. The Walton House is named for Trail Blazers legend Bill Walton, and includes ’70s Trail Blazers art and nods to Walton’s favorite band, the Grateful Dead, while the Beverly House features tributes to beloved children’s author Beverly Cleary.

Tiny Digs

In Northeast Portland, Tiny Digs gathers eight distinct tiny houses around a communal “outdoor lounge” with a fire pit, couches and games. The tiny houses all include running water, electric heat and air-conditioning, a cooking area, a flush toilet and a hot shower, and names like Bamboo, Barn, Beach, Cabin, Cottage and Modern reflect their designs.

Mentioned in this Article