Be Good Not Bad by Brian Warren

9 August 2006

On the Edgefield

On our trip we stayed at McMenamins Edgefield in Troutdale, Oregon. This hotel is like none at which I’ve ever stayed. The McMenamins family owns several hotels and pubs around the Northwest, and they’ve done an incredible job at differentiating themselves from other hotels.

Typically, the McMenamins buildings are historic, quirky properties and the Edgefield is no exception, having been an asylum, as well as a poor house, in the past. The walls are adorned with all sorts of wild murals, with few corners left unpainted. Even the security lights had jesters painted on them. It’s set upon a pretty large property with gardens, vinyards and an orchard.

Our room was on the third floor with a small balcony overlooking the grounds. They had just set up for an outdoor concert outside the Red Shed, a small brick building they fashioned into a one-room bar people sat outside on the grass enjoying the music. We let it drift into our open windows while we relaxed from the drive.

One-room bars are the norm at Edgefield. There is the Black Rabbit House, a tiny one room building with just a bench across from the taps. Just 20 yards away from that one was Jerry’s Ice House. A slightly larger bar decked out with Jerry Garcia kitch, with a single TV playing DVDs of Grateful Dead concerts nonstop. Up the road was the Distillery Pub that houses the distillery and a small bar with outdoor seating.

We ate dinner outside at a larger pub right in the middle of all the other buildings. After dinner we skipped the movie (did I mention they have a theater?) in favor of a wine tasting at the winery’s tasting room. As you can imagine, with a winery and a distillery, naturally they have a brewery on site too, with some fabulous brews to be enjoyed.

All of this created a really wild atmosphere: Tons of art everywhere, weird pipe sculptures around every bend, strange and beautiful flowers, an immense herb garden with intoxicating aromas. We felt like we were in a different world, with a different sort of people who make their own beer, wine, and spirits; who grow their own vegetables, fruit, and herbs. It’s like some bizarre commune that’s actually just a hotel. Did I mention it’s cheap? $135 for the room, and that includes the massage. Food was extra but reasonable.

If I were to design a hotel, this is exactly how I’d do it.