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TPG Special Contributor Eric Rosen recently stayed at one of Marriott’s newest Autograph Collection properties — Portland, Maine’s Press Hotel — and here’s his review.
While planning a recent vacation to Portland, Maine, I was thrilled to see that the city’s newest lodging hotspot is actually part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection. Located in the 1923 Portland Press Herald newspaper building, The Press Hotel incorporates many of its historical elements into the design.
My September travel dates were fixed and the hotel’s prepaid rates (as opposed to those I could cancel within 24 hours of my stay) were a good $20 per night lower than refundable rates, so I went ahead and booked a standard Superior King Guest Room for $242 the first night, and $218 the second night. As a general Marriott Rewards member who has points selected as his earning preference, I earned 4,460 points (10 points per dollar) from this reservation.
If you wanted to redeem Marriott Rewards for your stay at this Category 8 property, you’d need to use 40,000 points per night. However, if you managed to score the recent 80,000-point sign-up bonus offer for the Marriott Rewards Premier (the current offer is for 50,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first three months) and met the spend requirement of $3,000 in the first three months, you’d have already earned two free nights at this hotel.
I was originally supposed to stay Sunday to Tuesday, September 27-29, but due to a delay at the tail end of my recent Rio trip, I found I’d have to miss the first night of my prepaid reservation. As soon as I learned this, I called the hotel to see what could be done to recoup my potential loss. The front-desk agent I spoke to informed me that since I’d booked at a nonrefundable rate, there was nothing he could do — but I asked for a manager to call me back to see if he or she might be able to be more forgiving and cancel one night’s charge.
Twenty minutes later, the hotel’s on-duty manager called me back, and I explained that I was being delayed because of flight issues beyond my control and that I would still be staying the second night of my reservation. He was completely sympathetic, and said he would certainly refund the first night’s rate. I was so thankful, and I tweeted both the hotel and Marriott with my appreciation.
I arrived in Portland at around 1pm, picked up a rental car and drove straight to the downtown hotel, which is centrally located on the corner of Congress Street and Exchange Street, a quick walk from the old port.
I left my vehicle at the valet stand out front (overnight parking is $22, but includes in/out privileges and is easier than dealing with Portland’s draconian parking enforcement) and headed to the fun, artsy check-in desk. Within about three minutes, I was checked in, had my rate verified and was on my way up to my room.
Superior King Room
Though not the hotel’s largest, the Superior King room was still very comfortable. The bathroom was just to the right of the front door and was entirely paved with marble tile. It was stocked with Bigelow & Co. bath products, and included a single sink, as well as a shower with both overhead and hand-held heads.
The guestroom itself had tall but narrow windows (vestiges of the building’s office architecture) and was directly facing the fire station — though luckily, there were no emergencies while I was in town!
The desk featured various plugs, and was paired with a chair that bore a sign reading, “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog,” a line often used in old-fashioned typing handbooks. There were also two complimentary bottles of Saratoga Water and a coffeemaker with Green Mountain capsules.
The King-size bed was comfortable, and I especially liked the pop of color on the blue wall behind it. The cream-colored leather headboard had additional electrical plugs so you could bring your electronics over there to simultaneously work/surf and charge. For all Marriott Rewards members, Wi-Fi is complimentary throughout the property.
Though the closet wasn’t big, it did fit my (upright) suitcase — and good thing, too, since the room was too small for me to leave it open anywhere besides the bench at the foot of the bed.
Public Areas and Design Elements
One of the things I liked best about the Press Hotel was how its design whimsically incorporates the building’s past as a newspaper office, yielding a mix between a 1920s newspaper bullpen and a Mid-Century Modern writer’s retreat. Throughout the property, there are colorful woodblock letter carvings, actual Press Herald headlines and quotes printed on the wallpaper, carpets embroidered with letters in different type settings, and furniture and fixtures inspired by typewriters and printing presses.
The black slate floors, white-marble tiling and brown leather furniture evoke the sepia-toned palette of old newspapers. I especially liked the sculptural installation of typewriters arranged on the wall beside the staircase that leads from the lobby down to various meeting rooms.
The gym in the basement floor also had some fun old-timey elements like an antique scale — but I found myself wishing it had some old punching bags to complete the look!
The lobby has a cute little bar, Inkwell, where I went one evening for drinks with friends. The delicious cocktail I had, the Percy and Small Old Fashioned, was made with Buffalo Trace bourbon, Owl and Whale persimmon bitters, demerara, orange peel and cherry. The former city room of the Press Herald, Inkwell is arranged with a variety of seating areas, and from 6:30-11am each morning, you can come here to order specialty coffees and breakfast pastries.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to eat at the Union restaurant, which is overseen by locally popular chef Joshua Berry and offers a menu I’d describe as New New England, featuring locally sourced, seasonal ingredients like Maine salmon with lemongrass-ginger sauce and Casco Bay cod with Littleneck clams and soy brown butter.
I really enjoyed my stay at The Press Hotel. It wasn’t super luxurious, but it was very stylish and well-priced, and I thought all the design touches alluding to the building’s past as a newspaper office contributed to its unique aesthetic. The staff was very friendly and efficient, and it certainly seemed like a new place to see and be seen in town. If I were planning another visit to Portland — and I certainly hope to — I would definitely consider staying here again.
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