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“Terrible and rude service”

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McMenamins Kennedy School
Ranked #35 of 144 Hotels in Portland
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed January 16, 2008

The main restaurant staff were incredibly rude to our party. We were celebrating with a bride and groom and their parents following their wedding reception. The restaurant refused to serve alcohol to ANYONE in our party, based on 2 or 3 people who showed up first. So most of us showed up and without speaking to anyone, were already banned from drinking which is obviously absurd. The bride and groom hadn't even been drinking at the wedding and were "not allowed" to celebrate after. There were other people drinking in the restaurant and to make matters WORSE, the waitress gave terrible service when we wanted to order food (the only reason we stayed is because most people were staying at the hotel since the bride and groom had blocked out a bunch of rooms there months before). It was SUCH A SHAME the way they completed ruined what had been a wonderful night.

WOULD NEVER EVER GO AGAIN, WOULD NEVER WANT TO GIVE THEM SERVICE AFTER BEING TREATED SO POORLY.

  • Stayed: December 2007, traveled with friends
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7  Thank ven3321
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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575 - 581 of 626 reviews

Reviewed January 12, 2008

I thoroughly enjoyed staying at the Kennedy School, and will definitely return. Our room was spacious and stunning, with ceiling-high windows, nice furniture, beautiful murals on the walls. I felt very comfortable there. Though we were off a main passageway, our room was quiet. An entranceway to the room seems to block any noise from people going to the bars or the theater.

For those who like me need coffee first thing in the morning, here's the deal. No in-room coffeemakers. The Courtyard Restaurant opens at 7 am, and you can get coffee there. If you are up before 7, the check-in desk has a coffee plunger with good coffee and paper cups. If the room came with a coffeemaker and some of the hotel's own coffee, which they roast in-house, it would be nirvana. The bathroom was small and clean and had a shower stall but not a bath tub. Staff were very friendly.

The Kennedy School is special and interesting, and I wish there were more hotels like this.

  • Stayed: December 2007, traveled with family
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4  Thank stainless_steel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 5, 2008

Six long-time women friends (from the time we were 5 to 62) decided to "play," giggle, and have a local long-overdue slumber party. The Kennedy School was most accommodating, offering two huge rooms including space for roll-away beds in a suite called "Girls Play Court!" We enjoyed excellent service at the restaurant/pub, comfortable beds, beautiful plants and shrubs surrounding the school and courts, a free first rate movie in plush living room furniture, a soak in the hot tub, free bottled water and pots of coffee in the AM. Surrounded by lots of lively grade school art and merry guests we even attended a bluegrass dance event in the gym which had brought in a lot of local young people and families. It was a warm, friendly, soul and body-satisfying experience and we are all now getting caught up on our rest. Thanks for being there, McMenamins!

  • Stayed: January 2008, traveled with friends
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3  Thank clpb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 30, 2007

Our family stayed five nights in two rooms built from a single classroom--the Hopscotch room and the Blues room. As other people have said, the accomodations are pretty basic but the property more than compensates.

The beds are queen-sized and rather lumpy and sagging, but warm and with good pillows. There is no television nor any other entertainment, but with free internet, a computer and DVDs we brought, and loaner books in our room we didn't miss it. OK, I lied....we did miss it, but we didn't realize we missed it until we got back.

The bathrooms are nice but small and only have showers. The water is hot and the pressure is decent. There was a bit of mold on the inside door seams--housekeeping is WAY fast and not very thorough. There are two soaps and one shampoo/conditioner combo provided in the room. If you forget to bring extra toiletries, there is a Walgreens and organic market only one block down the street from Kennedy School.

The rooms come with a desk, chair, two nightstands, and either a wardrobe or classroom cloakroom, which was nice for storing items. Pencils, pub coasters, bottled waters, and empty pint glasses are also set out on the desk.

When I called to confirm our reservation, the front desk staff were a bit snotty--they thought I was weird for confirming. But given the number of problems I've encountered in the past, I'd rather be annoying than find myself without a room. Maybe they felt bad about that, because when we got there they gave us a surprise 10% discount without saying why.

We ate and drank at all the bars and the restaurant. Note to California visitors: the Detention and Courtyard bars are still smoking, and even though we were cool about it, it was suprising how much it ended up making your throat scratchy and clothes stink. You can buy cigars in both these bars. The beers were excellent--we tried them all. Also try the Spanish and/or Moroccan coffees--fantastic. Each bar has a wood stove which makes up for the relatively cold halls of the hotel. The Honors bar was nearly always empty while the Detention one was usually packed with people enjoying the jazz and/or watching sports on one of the two tvs on the property. The Cypress Room was WAY packed at any given time and also stayed open the latest.

We didn't try the soaking pool--the little changing room stank and turned us off. The movie theater looked great but there was no movie playing that we really wanted to see.

We ate at the Courtyard Restaurant every day. The Schoolhouse breakfast was only $6.60 and included eggs, toast, bacon/sausage, potatoes, and a generous fruit garnish. Other standouts: smoked cheddar and crab fondue (heavenly!), pesto pizza, hazelnut french toast, chicken pasta (I don't remember what else was in it), brewer's salad. The food's not gourmet but way better than pub grub and a decent price.

One note of caution: I can't stand curry spice and it was heavily in the tofu scramble and the distillery salad's chicken, but wasn't listed on the menu. The servers, however, were some of the nicest I've ever met and happily replaced my order.

The only major complaint was that once the Cypress Room opened, the smell of cigarette smoke would come into our room if the heat was on. The hotel staff said they would check into it after we left (we didn't complain about it until our last night).

One block down the street is also an alehouse, a Subway, a barbecue stand, and Hotlips pizza. That was some of the best pizza I've ever had. They sell it by the slice and use only local ingredients. We each pigged out on two slices plus a soft drink apiece for less than $15.

Kennedy School is a great base for exploring Portland. We also happened to visit a couple other hotels, and the quietness of the surrounding neighborhood and proximity to downtown Portland made this place a true find.

  • Stayed: November 2007
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7  Thank AnonymousSac
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 22, 2007

Wow.

McMenamin's Kennedy School is, without a doubt, the most unusual lodging we have stayed in. I work in a hotel, so really the last place I want to be in while on vacation is a hotel.


***General Impressions***
Kennedy School is housed in a renovated elementary school, and evidence of the building's previous life still exists throughout. The former principal's office is now the front desk and gift shop, the former auditorium is now a movie theater, and the old gym is now a meeting room. Bookworms like us take note: There is even a library (housed, not surprisingly, in the school's former library) that houses books guests are welcome to read back in their rooms. (It's tough to find a time to get in there when there's no meeting going on, though.)

Most fun of all, the place where decades ago teachers lounged is now a wonderfully relaxing, heated pool that is very refreshing after a long day. Do be sure to check out the artwork along all the corridors. A self-guided tour pamplet is available from the front desk.


***The Courtyard Restaurant***
We had the pleasure of eating at The Courtyard Restaurant (formerly the school's cafeteria) three times: twice for breakfast, and once for lunch. The prices were reasonable, and the portions quite large. Neither of us was able to finish all of our food, and without refrigerators in the rooms, we had no way to keep it, either. But they really do feed you well. Service is attentive, and the waitstaff very friendly. (Do they even hire introverts there? :-) ) On our last morning, though, the waitress brought us our bill then disappeared, leaving us frustrated with the lack of ability to close out our tab and depart back to the airport. I was finally able to track someone down after the 20-minute or so delay, but this lack of final detail did cut into our enjoyment ever so slightly. Nonetheless, the Courtyard is highly recommended, especially if you have the time to spend a leisurely mealtime.

There are some other places to eat there (notably the Honors and Detention Bars), but we did not visit those during our stay. Looked very lively, though.


***Oh, yeah, the rooms themselves . . .***
For the record, we stayed in the "Marble and Hopscotch" room, located at the northeast corner of the building.

The school's former classrooms have been converted into hotel rooms, complete with the original ceiling lights, chalkboards, and oh, yes, those school clocks we watched all too well back in the day. :-) Each has its own bathroom with shower. (I would have liked a tub, but that's a very minor issue.) The queen size beds are quite comfortable, and the rooms also contain a desk and wardrobe. I did find that, in our room at least, the provided lighting was just barely adequate for reading, so for people who may have weaker eyesight, I might suggest bringing a portable book light. Again, a very, very minor issue (We didn't spend a whole lot of time in our room), and the gentleman at the front desk assured us that they were looking into better lighting in the rooms.

We had fun writing messages on the chalkboard, and the housekeeping staff had I am sure just as much fun writing cute messages back to us. Having a fresh copy of the local daily paper, <I>The Oregonian</i>, waiting outside our door each morning was an unexpected pleasant surprise. Oh, and the coffee they serve at the front desk (free to guests!) is, and I say this with no reservations, *THE* best coffee I have ever tasted. Wow. No question about it, hands down, best coffee ever. Don't miss it!


***Closing Thoughts***
The school is in an older residential neighborhood, and there is a lot to see and do in the general area. Just a block away is a wide variety of restaurants, and there is a Walgreen's Drug store to pick up any supplies or snacks you may have forgotten at home. Despite other reviews to the contrary, the public transit in the area is excellent, with two bus lines (the 10 and the 57) whizzing right by every few minutes. We never had to wait more than a few minutes for a bus, and there is an automated number you can call to find out in real time when the next bus will come by. If you do want a schedule or map, though, the front desk staff will definitely give you one, and will also help you plan a trip to where you are going. A car is definitely unnecessary in Portland though it might be helpful for the initial trip from the airport if you have more than two bags. (We only rented a car for one day of our stay, when we travelled up north to the Olympic Peninsula.)

The staff is very easygoing, and definitely every single employee we encountered went above and beyond to make sure we had a great time. We saw singles, business types, couples of all ages, and families with children. (I never got a chance to ask a child what he or she thought about going to school on vacation.) The place also draws a large local crowd to the theater, restaurant, and pool, so it's really a great place to meet people who live in the area.


***The Verdict***
McMennamin's Kennedy School? HIGHLY recommended. As described above, the only two complaints I have are very minor, and my only regret about this place is that we couldn't stay longer. This creative, unique establishment gets an "A+" from us. WE WILL BE BACK!!!!

I will be placing pictures on my weblog at www.livejournal.com/~jumbach in the near future.

  • Stayed: October 2007, traveled on business
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6  Thank jumbach
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 16, 2007

I'm a local Portlander, and a big fan of the way McMenamins rescues old landmarks which may otherwise be torn down in the name of "progress" and brings them back to life. This place is a favorite, as it retains much of the same ambience as it did when it was built around 1913.

The lunchroom, gym, and the assembly rooms have all been redone with a mix of quirkyness while retaining the flavor of old Portland. Kids love it as much as grandparents and great grandparents because most of us can relate to it in some manner.

The photos of students, teachers, and principals who wandered the halls between 1913 and 1973 hang on the walls like a museum. The expressions never changed too much in those 60 years of education.

The beer is excellent if you are a lover of microbrews. There is also a good selection of wines. I've been ordering the Communication Breakdown Burger for almost 20 years. And the prices are reasonable so you don't need to bring the bank.

It's worth stopping here if you are in town----a memorable restaurant that is definitely unique to the area.

  • Stayed: October 2007, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank pdxjeff1959
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 27, 2007

I loved the decor of this converted elementary school-turned-hotel and the atmosphere was great. Comfy bed, fantastic movie theatre (free for hotel guests!) and fabulous soaking pool. Just about my only complaint is that one of the very friendly front desk people gave us wrong directions....three times.

  • Stayed: September 2007, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank APhillips817
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about McMenamins Kennedy School

Address: 5736 NE 33rd Ave, Portland, OR 97211-7302
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:
#20 Family Hotel in Portland
#27 Romantic Hotel in Portland
Price Range: $142 - $215 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — McMenamins Kennedy School 3.5*
Number of rooms: 57
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