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“Very unique hotel in Portland OR” 4 of 5 stars
Review of McMenamins Kennedy School

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McMenamins Kennedy School
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3.0 of 5 Hotel   |   5736 N.E. 33rd Ave., Portland, OR 97211   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #30 of 133 Hotels in Portland
Certificate of Excellence
Vernon, B.C.
Level Contributor
318 reviews
82 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 118 helpful votes
“Very unique hotel in Portland OR”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 18, 2013

I have never stayed in a McMenamins property before. However, after my stay at the Kennedy School hotel in Portland, this will change!

I thoroughly enjoyed this off-beat hotel. Think of a 100-year old school that has been converted to a hotel - but much better! For instance, this location has a fully operational brewery (the Hammerhead IPA and Summer Kolsch were both outstanding). It also has a great courtyard restaurant and many other places to imbibe in fine Oregon beer and wine. There is even a cool cigar lounge if you want to partake.

The rooms were relatively small but clean as a whistle. They were "period" rooms with old fashioned decor. I loved the fact there was no t.v. in my room. Outstanding! But i did have access to the internet (free) which is a must.

One of the coolest things is that it is a pet friendly hotel. I have a dog and we always have difficulties trying to find a place that will allow us to bring him. Bingo - here it is!

Well done McMenamins. Like Arnie Schwarzenegger once said - "I'll be back".

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled on business
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Gloria M, Manager at McMenamins Kennedy School, responded to this review, June 20, 2013
Thank your for your review. We are so glad we met your expectations and look forward to seeing you again. Please be sure to visit our other locations. Every location is unique and I am sure you will not be disappointed.
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396 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (89)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Little Rock, Arkansas
Level Contributor
11 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 17, 2013

We stayed one night here and it was an interesting place. The whole Kennedy school is bustling with activity and we enjoyed our stay. The rooms really do have their own charm. While I am not sure it would be where I chose if we returned to Portland, I am glad we stayed a night on this trip.

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Gloria M, Manager at McMenamins Kennedy School, responded to this review, June 20, 2013
Thank you for taking the time to review us. We hope we do see you again and you give us another opportinuty to meet your expectations.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
26 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 10, 2013

I stayed 3 nights by myself here while visiting family in Portland and it met my expectations. I read ALL the other reviews on it, so I felt like I was going into it with the right expectations...if you do that, then you won't be disappointed.

There's a movie theater there that I didn't get to enjoy (no time) but my sister had been there and she said it was neat (you can order drinks and food and there's just a bunch of old weird couches and chairs in there)

What I like best about this place is the location. It's not in the busy crazy downtown, but rather tucked back into a normal residential neighborhood, so you get more of a local feel when you're walking around, and that's what I go for when I stay places...I want to feel like I live there for minute, and not so much like a tourist. The hotel itself does NOT offer 4 star luxuries at all...it's an old school, so it's a bit noisy at times, the bathrooms aren't fabulous, the bed wasn't terribly comfortable, but it makes up for all that in eclectic charm. I had the "Mrs. Palmer" room, which had chalkboards lining the entry hall and one side of the bedroom opposite the bed. There's chalk, and I'm an artist, so at night before bed I couldn't help but add to the murals that were already there. That was fun. I got an okay night's sleep, and had fun exploring the place (the grounds are big) and my sister and I enjoyed the soaking pool at night after walking around the neighborhoods all day.

There's not a lot to do within walking distance, but the bus system is easy to navigate (I downloaded the PDX app on my iphone and was able to see the bus routes and stops I needed) and there's stops within 2-5minute walks all around the hotel.

The food on site...you should skip it and just go out and explore all the wonderful places to eat around town. Even the dive bars have good food! The hotel does have a couple of cute bars on site...The Detention Bar and the Honors Bar....they're teeny tiny and really cool looking. I didn't end up drinking at either, but I peeked in and wish I had. Also, the hotels coffee is crap. Again, you're in Portland, so you have the worlds best coffee all around you, don't waste your time at the hotel...go out and explore...There's a place called Extracto Coffee within walking distance that was pretty good...I also recommend Courier Coffee which is downtown, and Barista which was on Alberta street (great fun street)...there's a wonderful ice cream shop a few doors down from that too called Salt & Straw (crazy fun flavors like Pear-Blue Cheese....it's good, trust me.)

Overall I recommend it for younger or more eclectic people...if you're used to the Embassy Suites or the Hyatt this place is NOT for you.

Room Tip: Ask for something away from the eateries so it'll be quieter. There's a new section of the...
See more room tips
  • Stayed April 2013, traveled solo
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Gloria M, Manager at McMenamins Kennedy School, responded to this review, June 20, 2013
Thank you for your feeback. We are happy you had a great stay. Please be sure to visit us again.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
21 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 3, 2013

The Mcmenamins experience is all I hoped for. I toured this hotel in May 2012 and could not wait to stay in May 2013. It was 80s prom night and we attended that too. While there was every opportunity to hose guests selling 'prom wear' they kept the price of that so low it was affordable and I found the same pricing in the gift shop. All of the staff we encountered was completely 'up' and knowledgeable about the whole chain. The fact that there was no TV in the room was not expected (did not read ahead) but not a problem at all. We socialized the whole time we were there! I now vow to stay at every hotel in the chain! Next stop Crystal Hotel in September, Edgefield next May!

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Gloria M, Manager at McMenamins Kennedy School, responded to this review, June 8, 2013
Thank you for your feedback. We are so happy you enjoyed the McMenamins experience. We look forward to having you again. I am sure you will enjoy our other properties too.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Edinburg, Texas
Level Contributor
62 reviews
26 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 107 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 2, 2013

I love staying in quirky places, my husband -- not so much. But we both enjoyed our stay at the Kennedy School. We wandered the hallways and soaked up the history of the old elementary school. The cafeteria is now a restaurant, the gym is a live-music venue, the auditorium is a movie theater, the detention room is a cigar bar and the boiler room is a microbrewery! The little water fountains are still functional. The courtyard is nicely landscaped with a warm soaking pool -- only it was full of kids so we passed on that.

Our room in the English Wing was very quiet and comfortable with a great bed and large bathroom. The sink is in the bedroom. Every room in the English Wing had a novel or literary theme, which the teacher in me loved! Heavy curtains cover the large windows so you can sleep in.

The restaurant was quite crowded at 6 p.m. and the wait was over an hour long, so we snagged a couple of seats at the bar and had a good dinner there -- not great, but okay.

There was no coffee maker in our room, which was a drawback. We didn't mind not having a tv at all.

The hotel is located on the east side of Portland, which made it easier to get on the road for a day trip to the Columbia River Gorge.

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Gloria M, Manager at McMenamins Kennedy School, responded to this review, June 8, 2013
Thank you for taking the time to write this review! We are so glad you had a great time with us. We look forward to your next visit. We take all feebback seriously and will be speaking the restaurant manager about the ok dinner you had. Come back and see us soon.
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Corvallis, Oregon
Level Contributor
540 reviews
48 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 136 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 28, 2013

I stayed here once before about 11 years ago, but we wanted to come back and stay in the new English Wing. I’m not sure if it was just our room, but it sounded like a motor was running under our room the entire stay. It made it quite difficult for me to get to sleep. We found that they store food in the basement, so I’m assuming it was from a refrigerator or a freezer, but it was awful. I would recommend you stay on the 2nd floor in the main building if sound bothers you. But be aware the weekend we were here there were 2 weddings, a community sing and a celebration of life going on. With the music and sounds from those, along with the 3 bars, a restaurant, and the theatre this place stays hoping much beyond 10 pm.

We also ate here a few times. It started poorly when we asked to sit outside, were told there were no tables, even though we could see them. We were then seated inside (and I hate it when no one tells you that it’s happy hour, but we found the menu) and waited 5 minutes, no service, then noticed the next couple that entered the restaurant was seated outside, at the table we wanted. We flagged down a server and explained our frustration. She seated us outside and became our server and was awesome. A bad experience turned around.

We also ate here for 2 breakfasts and 2 nights in the Cypress Bar (The Boiler Room had much too loud music). The main issue was getting our bill. We always ended up having to go and find someone to find our bill, but often times they couldn’t find our server or which bill was ours. It’s a busy place, though, so we understand.

The nice thing though, is there are a theatre (the times were not convenient for when we were available) and a soaking pool (again, we didn’t use it—the first night was packed with people and the 2nd night it was raining.) But we did enjoy the bars and it’s walking distance to a few other restaurants/bars/stores. Be aware though that parking can get tight on weekends, especially if there is a wedding or other event where a lot of extra guests are parking.

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Mel J, Manager at McMenamins Kennedy School, responded to this review, May 31, 2013
Thank you for taking the time to write this review. It has great feedback for our operation and we will use it to improve the operation here. We are looking into your comments about the noise from the basement in the new wing and are looking for solutions. The bar and restaurant manager are aware of your review as well and will be working with the team to better the service. We sincerely sorry that your stay was anything less than great and hope that you will stay with us again in the future.
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Corvallis
Level Contributor
62 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 16, 2013

McMenamins, the company, has a wonderful business model - purchasing old, sometimes dilapidated, buildings, saving them from destruction and bringing them back to life. They get A++ for that. And the same goes to saving the old Kennedy Elementary School: Great idea and a great job in renovating the place, where former classrooms now accommodate paying guests .

Where this hotel fell down in my rating were from wholly fixable issues, including:

- Maybe not a big deal to many people, but since this isn't a retreat dedicated to solitude, what's the reason for not having TV in the rooms? I was expecting to be able to watch the ending holes of a PGA tournament, and wasn't able to do that without going to one of the facility's bars and begging.
- Apparently, McMenamins makes a great deal of their hotel income by opening it to the public. Nothing unusual there, possibly, but there was no evidence that their guests get any sort of priority or consideration for any of the hotel's amenities - including during special events like the Mother's Day brunch where we had to appeal to be let into (we were told at first it was sold out).
- Where their public-use policy was particularly irksome was in trying to enjoy the "soaking pool" which was crowded with non-guests.
- Consistent with their non-guest business, they also cater large events like the wedding going on the evening we were there. Not only did the celebrants make unenjoyable our room adjacent to the courtyard where they were enjoying themselves, the hotel didn't enforce their no noise policy until around 10 PM. Later that evening, as we were trying to go to sleep, the hotel crew was moving tables and chairs around on carts, apparently with small, hard wheels which made raucous sound on the patio bricks. (Note to management: If your crews have to do this at night, at least get them carts with large, pneumatic tires!)

On the positive side of the ledger, the food was good (brunch was terrific, but should have been at $28/person), and the hotel was charming. The "Boiler Room" bar was particularly well designed and interesting, with artifacts from the days it actually heated the school, including the huge furnace doors which now serve as wall decor. Kudos to them for also having a "cigar room" where pariahs with that inclination can repair, away from the scorn of politically correct Portlandians - it IS a small room, however.

Those who have unresolved issues from their youth involving school and/or authority figures, here's your chance to fall asleep in class with the comforting knowledge that you won't get rapped across the knuckles for doing so. You can even parade naked where teachers used to instruct in chalk on the blackboards still in place!

On the whole, a very interesting, but I'll want to know that the issues we encountered have been addressed before I go back...

Room Tip: Avoid rooms adjacent to the courtyard, especially during holidays or events like weddings.
See more room tips
  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Mel J, Manager at McMenamins Kennedy School, responded to this review, May 18, 2013
Thank you for taking the time to write a review! We appreciate the constructive feedback and are very sorry that we didn't meet your expectations. Your comments about guests getting priority for these specialty events like Mother's Day are right on, you shouldn't have to beg and we will train our staff on how better to accommodate the guests. We are so glad you enjoyed your meal! As for noise, especially from the wheels of our carts, easy fix and we are on it! Thanks for the suggestion of rubber tires, sometimes the fix is so simple no one thinks of it.
None of your suggestions have fallen on deaf ears and we will be addressing the concerns with the appropriate departments. Thank you again for taking the time to write this wonderfully constructive review. We do hope to see you again in the future.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about McMenamins Kennedy School

Address: 5736 N.E. 33rd Ave., Portland, OR 97211
Location: United States > Oregon > Portland
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#29 Romantic Hotel in Portland
#35 Family Hotel in Portland
#48 Business Hotel in Portland
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3 star — McMenamins Kennedy School 3*
Number of rooms: 57
Also Known As:
Mcmenamins Kennedy School Portland

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