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Hotel Lucia in Portland: smaller than a child's playhouse

Hotel Lucia - Portland, exterior view
Hotel Lucia - Portland, exterior view
- courtesy Hotel Lucia

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by SLICK TRACY – Hotel Detective & Food Sleuth -
Uncovering the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in travel
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Do you want a historic 'boutique' hotel to stay during an overnight visit to Portland? The Hotel Lucia will provide that for you. There may possibly be some larger rooms, but my room was approximately the size of most modern-day walk-in closets. Although the furnishings were comfortable and the bed linens were extremely comfortable, this is definitely not a place I will ever recommend. My complaints were shared with the hotel manager-on-duty the next morning, and I noted that I was a travel journalist and had written a un-favorable review, but very little was offered. I was certainly anticipating the hotel would make an offer of some sort, but did not ask for such.

It was very late when I arrived on a business trip, but the room had been secured well in advance. I was traveling alone and it was guessed that I would be working on my laptop during the stay. The front desk had even provided me a wireless network to use with a User Name and Password. This indicated that I was not there just to spend the night and nothing else.

I was carrying two standard bags, both of the airplane 'carry-on' size. As I stepped into the room, there was not enough room to even get the bags past the bed and over to the small hassock near the desk table area. I had actually lift the bags up and over the bed. It was this difficulty and extra work that perhaps caused my initial discomfort. I am a Senior Citizen and have been asked by my doctors to not lift large items if not necessary. Other passengers on airplanes usually help with lifting my larger bag into the overhead bin. I am not a handicapped person, but certainly expected to be able to get my bags into my 'upscale' hotel room without help.

The bathroom is barely adequate. It has a small tub-shower, a commode, and an extremely small lavatory. The lavatory is a 12-inch circular stainless steel type that allows you to get a cup of water or wash your hands and not much else. There is a glass counter-top, again of very small size, surrounding the small lavatory. My wife or daughters would be unable to put their makeup and toothbrush out and still have room for a curling iron. This would not have worked for them at all. As it was, the lavatory area had room for my small plastic packet of airline-allowed items, but that did not even leave room for putting a washcloth or hand towel on the counter area. Instead, there was a chrome bar placed around the edge of the counter-top where clean towels were located. I had a choice to either place my wet hand towel on top of the clean towels, or remove the clean towels onto the edge of the bath area. Decisions, decisions.

Another note regarding the clear glass counter-top surrounding the tiny lavatory – the chromed rod for small towels was glued to the underside of the glass with four chromed posts. They were very noticeably rusty and it made the entire surface appear unclean and unsanitary. I found myself attempting to wipe them off repeatedly.

Seriously, this bathroom was so small, two people cannot get inside the room at the same time. There is a very narrow shelf over the commode. A box of tissue and two rolled-up bath towels were placed there, precariously perched on the narrow shelf. I was nervous about lifting the commode lid, allowing the clean towels to easily fall into the bowl, thus eliminating their usage. I asked myself the simple question as to why this shelf was so narrow if it must be used to hold the only two bath towels available.

I have seen airplane bathrooms larger than this one, except for the shower/tub, of course. After getting out of the shower, I had to leave the bathroom door open because you couldn't even turn around and adequately towel yourself dry.

The working table disk is located behind the bathroom door. If you close the bathroom door, it does not give your the feeling of being shut up so much, but the bathroom door does scrape the edge of the bed when it is opened and closed. The table is more adequate for a small tablet-sized working item than a full-sized laptop. There is not extra room available to even put an external hard-drive and a remote mouse. The television was mounted on the wall directly over the work desk table, behind the bathroom door. (Note that there was no other space to put the TV since the room was so tiny.) The desk lamp was modern and included a receptacle for plugging in a cell phone, tablet, or laptop. However, the light could not be defused such as with a shade. It reflected directly onto the laptop screen so badly that the lamp had to be re-located. Well, maybe there is room for these if you move the small coffee pot over and shove the lamp over the other way.

Speaking of the coffee pot, it was a very nice Cuisinart brand that was easy to work. However, for an upscale hotel, I was expecting more than a single packet of coffee. There were no paper cups – only two ceramic mugs and only the single packet of regular Portland Roasting coffee. If you plan to wake up early and get some work done in your room while having a few cups of coffee – forget it. Only one packet was available. Either this was planned by the hotel staff to reduce expenses or the housekeeping flubbed this one up. I am not sure which.

The bed was the best part of the room. It was a standard size bed and most business travelers would expect a king-size or at least two beds in their room. That did not bother me at all. The pillows were among the best I have experienced in traveling. The covers were perfect. I definitely had a very good night's sleep – as long as I stayed in the bed. Even the heating/air unit worked great, without blowing directly on me during my sleep-time. The bed and bedding was the best part of the whole room.

There was a window, as is common in older hotels built before air conditioning. Many rooms in these older hotels faced out in any direction possible, mostly without a view of anything except another wall of rooms or nearby buildings. Thus is the case of the view from my room. It looked down onto a closed array of heating and air conditioning units, around to other rooms and buildings that were entirely connected, and upwards to the sky. The only view of blue sky (or rain clouds if bad weather) was by actually leaning over to the glass as close as possible and looking upwards. About 10 percent of the total viewing area was sky while the other 90 percent was simply other buildings.

The Hotel Lucia was built in 1909 and opened to the public in the very heart of downtown Portland. It was remodeled as a specialty boutique hotel and reopened in 2002.It is only a few short blocks to the riverfront. Walking is only a few short blocks to a wide variety of shopping, restaurants, and much more. The hotel staff is highly personable and willing to help out with almost any request. There are a couple of meeting rooms available for business purposes. The hotel has a work-out room, a fairly large entry area, and a 24-hour room service menu.

The morning after my initial encounter, I contacted the manager on duty. I explained that I was extremely tired the night before and did not have the time or energy to change rooms. I simply crashed and went to sleep. The manager, surprisingly, did not offer any discount, a 'return-back-later' coupon, a dining room meal, or anything. Instead, he told me that, yes, this was an extremely small room and that he could move me later that day – IF I packed everything up and left my suitcases for the bellman to move to the new room. He did not offer a suite or upgraded room at all – only a slightly larger room. Due to a very busy schedule, it would have taken more time to pack and then un-pack, so I endured a second night.

The GOOD: the bed, pillows, and bedding are awesome. The hotel staff is terrific, friendly, and helpful. The hotel is located in a easily accessible downtown location.

The BAD: most of the rooms are extremely small and inadequate, even for the single guest staying overnight for a business trip. If you must stay here, insist on the largest room available. More than one packet of room coffee should be available.

The UGLY: the bathroom is too small to use, there is very little room to put out your luggage and other items, and there is not enough desk space for the average business traveler.

The Hotel Lucia is located at 400 SW Broadway in Portland, Oregon. Their phone is 877-225-1717. They describe themselves as a 'trendy Portland hotel.' The Hotel Lucia is not affiliated with any chain or ownership conglomerate. I am guessing that this may be the smallest hotel room in all of Portland, but I would think that a single guest business traveler carrying two large bags with a laptop would, at the very least, be asked if a small room was acceptable. It was late and I was simply too tired to even take the trek back down to the front desk to request a re-location. Overall, this hotel would deserve less than a 1-star rating and I would not recommend it at all, but the bed and pillows raise that up to at least the 1-star plus mark.

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