PORTLAND, OR: The Westin Hotel

I'm not absolutely sure I could describe a "typical" Westin, but I'm 100% certain the Westin Portland is definitely not typical. That could be a positive or a negative, depending on your perspective.

One facet of this hotel that is typical is the service; it was outstanding in all respects. From the bellman who greeted us and hauled our mountain of luggage to our top-floor room to the front desk clerk who swiftly switched us to another room when we realized the room next door was inhabited by a crying baby to the staff in the on-site restaurant, everyone was top-notch.

The hotel itself was a bit of a surprise.

My first impression was that the property was a "historic" hotel. Its style, smaller guest room size (even on the penthouse floor) and thin walls gave the impression that Westin had done a creditable job of rehabilitating and saving an older building.

Not so.

A front desk clerk told me the hotel was designed with the older style in mind but was actually built in 1999 which, in my estimation, makes the shortcomings inexcusable -- particularly the thin walls that enabled us to hear the next guest's TV program well into the evening. And given that the hotel is slightly more than a decade old, the small room size is far less acceptable than if it had been a rehabilitated structure.

Further, while the current decor supports the historic feel -- with fleurs-de-lis on the wallpaper, for example -- the hotel plans to refurbish its rooms in an ultra-contemporary style, with purples and yellows dominating the new color scheme.

Although the new style is not to my taste, my greater concern is that the other drawbacks won't be addressed and future guests will find a hotel with great service but small rooms, too much noise, and not enough of the "typical" Westin charm.

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