My two-month-long search for a luxury bed and breakfast in the Pacific Northwest cumulated in an overnight stay at the incomparable Portland’s White House. This extraordinary 1911 mansion in the city’s historic Irvington District ticked every box on my extensive list plus delivered a few revelations! Portland’s White House is proof that B&Bs do exist for persnickety guests like me focused on upscale details and personal stories.
Warm welcome after dark
We arrived after dark, a habit we keep even though it is counterproductive to sightseeing. My husband and travel partner, David, and I arrived at about 10:30 PM, exhausted and ready to sink into any handy bed. Portland’s WH’s General Manager Paula Bloemendaal was there to warmly welcome us despite the hour. She lives on-site and has the hospitality gene so prized in hotel staff by guests everywhere. Her greeting energized us both and I found myself hoping for a quick tour, which I got. Even better, Paula showed us to the large kitchen where guests can help themselves to enormous homemade cookies, coffee and tea. We did and the treats were delicious.
The baron’s room
The next morning we took a proper look at our beautiful room (Baron’s Room) on the second floor in the sunlight. Period details were beautifully kept intact by design firm Christopher David during the recent renovation commissioned by owners Frank Groff and David Krause. The original doors, hardwood floor and ceiling trim were beautifully complemented by the deep blue of the walls and new extensive marble tile in the bathroom.
Below the chandelier
Downstairs, we met the other guests in the gorgeous dining room featuring a long table to seat ten, a crystal chandelier, well-chosen replica art, solid wood trim and plenty of natural light. As the inn was completely full, there were two breakfast times from which to choose, 8 and 8:30. The hot breakfast was filling and delicious (and personally served by Paula), but even so, I found room for another cookie afterward. We chatted with a fellow guest in the drawing room by the fireplace (tip: the fire is controlled by a remote you’ll find under the dog on the mantle) until it was tour time.
I love tours of historic buildings for one main reason — there is always a piece of history behind closet doors or down rarely used hallways. In Portland’s White House, originally built for lumber baron Robert Lytle, two original wall-mounted telephones are still a reminder of technology’s rapid progress if you know where to look. The grand entry’s walls are covered in impeccably installed wallpaper made to look like a mural of the French countryside. Behind the sweeping double staircase, there is a step-down landing where I was surprised to find a door leading to a hidden lower level that has been converted to a charming light-filled event room. Paula entertained us with the story of an accidental candlelit party that was such a hit, it’s been requested time and time again. When the power went out just before a big event, the staff improvised with hundreds of candles lighting every step and every platter of food for a party that has gone down in PWH history.
Outside the front door
We didn’t venture far from the B&B, but should you choose to, the Irvington District is filled with trendy restaurants and shops waiting to be explored.
It does exist
I’m thrilled I found a bed and breakfast that is both high-end and full of stories. My recommendation is, hands-down, to go and experience Portland’s White House for yourself. Enjoy.
Thank you to Paula Bloemendaal for her assistance in arranging my stay, plus showing us where the cookies are stored. Until next time, Paula!