It’s not hard to take a dilapidated, old grande dame and revitalize it, to bring it into the 21st century. Slap an impressive-sounding, forward-looking name on it and do a paint-by-numbers renovation to turn it into yet another vaguely charming boutique hotel. But that’s not what the team at Portland-based Provenance Hotels did with the Sentinel, when it took over the former Governor Hotel (which, before that, was two buildings: the 1909 Seward Hotel and the 1923 Elks Temple). No, the Sentinel is a carefully written love letter to both Portland’s past and its future. Its earth-toned decor (done mostly by local West End design firm Boys Fort) is sufficiently grand and vintage-seeming enough to complement the ornate original architecture, with everything sourced from local purveyors like Pendleton and Schoolhouse Electric; it’s also, however, entirely modern, with touches like personally curated Spotify playlists and a Salt & Straw ice cream delivery service. The main restaurant is a Portland icon, an Old World steakhouse, while the lobby bar is a trendy affair run by the team behind some of the city’s coolest nightlife spots. It would seem that the landmark hotel is back at the top of her game.
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In the heart of the trendy West End neighborhood, the Sentinel can boast one of the most desirable locations in Portland. Downtown’s central Pioneer Courthouse Square is just a few blocks away, and local icons like Powell’s Books (the world’s largest bookstore!), the Alder food cart pod, and the hip Living Room Theaters (movies and cocktails!) are all within a couple blocks. Many of the city’s trendiest restaurants, bars, and coffee shops are a stone’s throw away—including Tasty n Alder, Lardo West, Kenny & Zuke’s, Clyde Common, and Little T Baker—and there’s a MAX stop (the city’s light rail service) just next door, for easy access to the rest of the city.
Need to Know
Rooms: 100 rooms, 20 suites. From $189. Check-in: 4 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: A Portland classic, the McCormick & Schmick’s-run Jake’s Grill evokes the Old West with its long mahogany bar, mounted hunting trophies, red leather booths, full-wall murals of Lewis & Clark, extensive whiskey collection—and, of course, its surf-and-turf menu. Opened since the 2014 renovation by the team behind Portland’s popular Bye and Bye and Sweet Hereafter bars, Jackknife is more than a (just-off-the-) lobby lounge, attracting in-the-know locals and guests alike to its craft cocktails, local beers, and gourmet light bites. There’s also a Starbucks off the lobby, which offers an evening menu of beer, wine, and savory snacks in addition to the normal fare. Spa and gym details: No spa, but the hotel does have a well-equipped, 24-hour fitness center.
Who's it best for: Luxury lovers who appreciate both history and design. Our favorite rooms: The City Terrace Studio Suites, located on the top floor of the West Wing, have large private terraces with fire pits and panoramic views of the Portland skyline. Special perk: Book one of the rooms on the top floor of the West Wing to get access to the Room at the End of the Hall, a sort of private club lounge outfitted by the local Boys Fort design firm and stocked with free drinks and snacks.