Sunday, October 30, 2011

BEND, OR: The Oxford Hotel Revisited

My wife and I happened upon the Oxford Hotel in the spring of 2010 while visiting friends who live nearby. We were delighted to find this upscale offering in Bend and recently, quite pleased to return.

Opened in January 2010, the Oxford Hotel has all the benefits of being new, including lack of wear and tear on the physical plant or furnishings, and having most everything in working order.

Beautifully designed in Pacific Northwest contemporary -- lots of dark woods, deep earth tones -- the Oxford is also designed with sustainability in mind. Being the Pacific Northwest, one would expect no less. Floors are often cork, counter tops are made from concrete or recycled glass. Even the duvet cover is made from recycled plastic bottles, though they're so luxe you'd never know it were it not for the card next to the bed telling you about it.

Our room was on the second floor and faced the street so I was a bit concerned about possible noise. I needn't have been. State-of-the-art windows kept things pleasantly peaceful through the night, and blackout curtains kept the room dark until we were good and ready to rise in the morning.

Flat screen TVs offer satellite TV plus an in-house channel that turns the TV into a virtual fireplace. The workspace boasts numerous inputs and outlets, providing plenty of places to charge that laptop, cell phones, MP3 players, and the other devices we carry today. There are also connections that allow one to display the output from a laptop on the TV.

The Oxford's in-room coffee is clearly the best we've ever experienced, though my wife readily admits she's too lazy to deal with the freshly-ground coffee, a hot pot, and French press. Coffee making at the Oxford therefore falls to me.

In-room dining is offered with food prepared by 10 Below, the restaurant in the hotel basement. While we chose to eat at other nearby restaurants on this visit, I did visit 10 Below and enjoy oysters on the half-shell with a nightcap before retiring.

On our previous visit, we enjoyed a tartare flight of lomi-lomi salmon, spicy tuna, and steak tartare, accompanied by crispy nem rolls served with lettuce, mint, and dipping sauces. Incredible! Breakfast is also served at 10 Below, with items ranging from traditional breakfast fare to several more inventive offerings.

The restaurant has a decent, though not huge, wine list. Oregon Pinot Noirs top the list, with proffered Cabernets from California, and whites from California and New Zealand.

Most notably, wine prices are very reasonable. We enjoyed a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc we buy at retail from time to time. While between $15 - 17 at retail, 10 Below offered it at $24 a bottle -- far below the all-too-common 100 percent restaurant mark-up, which would have put the price in the low $30 range.

The hotel also offers a complimentary guest laundry; a gym with a sauna, steam room, and whirlpool; and in-room internet access. There's no business center, but a laptop is available for use in the lobby for those who don't travel with their own.

Parking arrangements at the Oxford are a bit unusual. The hotel offers valet parking, or one can self-park in the adjacent garage for $5 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (except Sundays). However, guests who self-park must pay at a box in the garage; the cost of parking is not added to your hotel folio because the garage is operated by the city of Bend.

As we experienced on our first visit, housekeeping is an area that needs improvement. Our room lacked a folding rack upon which to set our suitcase, and there was a fair bit of hair from a previous guest(s?) still in the shower drain. I wrapped the hair in a washcloth and took it to the concierge when I told her about the oversights. She was horrified, apologized profusely, and made notes for housekeeping. Having spent time in the hospitality industry, I realize such things happen but I also know that management wants -- and needs -- to know about oversights like these or they can't correct them.

All in all, we love the Oxford Hotel and definitely plan to return the next time we're in Bend!

Visit my main page at TheTravelPro.us for more news, reviews, and personal observations on the world of upmarket travel.



Photos by Carl Dombek
Click on photos to view larger images

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