Designed to resemble a grand Victorian seaside hotel (but with a Northwest craftsman style—it was actually built in the early 80’s), the waterfront RiverPlace easily has the city’s best Willamette River views. Set at the southern edge of downtown (at a nice remove from the central hustle and bustle), the property overlooks the grassy Governor Tom McCall Waterfront Park, a marina, and a promenade lined with boutiques and sidewalk cafés. A library stocked with books and a glowing fireplace warm the lobby; on sunny days, guests can sit in teak rocking chairs on the porch, admiring boats on the river. The 84 rooms have earthy color schemes and Arts and Crafts–inspired furniture, as well as Wi-Fi and CD and DVD players; many have separate sitting parlors. Three Degrees Restaurant and Bar turns out top-notch regional northwestern fare and has romantic water views; fitness buffs will like the free passes to the city’s best gym, RiverPlace Athletic Club, just a five-minute walk away.
Tip: Guided kayak tours of the Willamette, offered through Portland Kayak Company (503-459-4050; www.portlandkayak.com), leave from the RiverPlace Moorage, adjacent to the hotel.
Room to Book: Rooms 325 and 425 are both enormous fireplace suites with whirlpool tubs and panoramic views of the Willamette River, Governor Tom McCall Waterfront Park, and downtown skyline. Rooms ending in 02, 08, 16, and 17 also have terrific views.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.