The night before I stayed at the Nines, in Portland, Oregon, I spent the night at the White House in Yakima, a bed and breakfast. It's actually a couple of bedrooms that are available to let on the second floor of the White House Café, which serves an amazingly delicious breakfast. But the rooms themselves weren't to my personal taste -- an exuberant bride/doily/doll meets shabby chic theme. I know that many people, particularly those who, say, enjoy weddings (I don't) would be charmed, but that's the chance you take when you stay at a B&B -- you are really immersed in a particular taste.
I've also had the experience of staying in a smaller hotel that was more to my taste, but my travel companion was non-plussed by it -- I'm thinking of Le Quartier Français in Franschoek, South Africa, where the Four Quarters suite is a cream and brown palette punched up with accents of bright hot orange and pink. I loved it, although I could see why it wouldn't be for everyone. Human variability in taste is why most hotels resort to the kind of utter blandness that has you calling the front desk in the morning to find out what city you're in.
So when I walked into the Nines -- a 331 room Starwood-owned hotel occupying the top floors of the former Meier & Frank department store in downtown Portland -- and one that's known for its distinctive interiors, I was really thinking about décor and what a challenge it is for a large hotel, to create rooms with some consistency that have a distinct yet relatively universally appealing personality.
Check out the photo gallery and let me know what you think, but I think the Nines manages to strike the right balance. The décor is described as "nostalgic modern", and the rooms are done out in rich brown, charcoal gray, creamy white and a Tiffany turquoise. There are a few fun frou-frou touches -- a beaded light fixture, for instance -- but nothing that should make a buttoned up business man feel uncomfortable (I assume, not being a business man or a man for that matter.) It also felt very Portland-elegant to me, if I were going to an affair in PDX, I'd hit a vintage shop over a department store. Beyond that, there's also a good sense of the local community, as the hotel commissioned some 400 original art pieces to display throughout the hotel, a library on the hotel's main level is stocked with a selection of books from Powell's, Portland's incredibly amazing book store, and Urban Farmer, the hotel's restaurant, works with local purveyors.
Gallery: The Nines in Portland