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Hood River Hotel
102 Oak Avenue
Hood River, Or 97031
800-386-1859
Hood River Hotel Web Site

July 2001

Welcome to www.weloveourlife.com. This is our page dedicated to our experiences while staying at the Hood River Hotel in Hood River, Oregon.


Accommodations Amenities Food Bar/Lounge Service Attractions Dining Nightlife Weather Tips

Accommodations

We arrived at Hood River Hotel a half-hour before official check-in, but after consulting her records, the desk clerk smilingly told us our room was ready. We loaded our luggage into an ancient, tiny, gated lift to take us to our digs on the third floor. The hotel was quaint. There were many old skylights visible in the hall on the third floor. Our suite was on the corner. The air conditioning was on, but the thermostat was locked and we could not change it.
There was a room containing a kitchen, table, and refrigerator - bare bones, but clean. Our bedroom had a canopied queen bed, tv, and sitting area with large closet. There was a step up to the bathroom, with a skylight over the bathtub. There were two ceiling fans in the bedroom and one in the kitchen that were running constantly. It was warm and sunny in Hood River, but the combination of the air conditioning and ceiling fans kept the room at a steady 70 degrees the entire time we were there.

There were plenty of windows, and we noted that we could see right in the buildings across the street even during the daytime, so we were careful to put the shades down when we needed privacy. Although there was plenty of natural light in the room, the shades were also quite effective in shutting out the morning sun, so we slept peacefully. One disappointment was the TV. No, we weren't in Hood River to watch the TV, but occasionally (such as late in the evening just before retiring) we like to relax and watch a little TV. There were only 6 channels, and there were 2 NBC and no CBS channels. It would have been nice if there were a few more choices.

Inn Amenities

Hood River Hotel is a 100-year-old hotel that is located downtown - we picked it for its location, figuring we could walk to places in town (we were correct). The lobby was beautifully renovated and was impressive. There was a fireplace and seating to the right, and the front desk was towards the back. On their website, they advertised themselves as a "full-service hotel" with an exercise room, sauna, and spa. We donned bathing suits and went down to the lower level to check out the spa. A nice feature is that there is a combination necessary to enter the exercise area, so it is secure. They change the combination regularly and tell you what it is when you check in. There were a few pieces of exercise equipment under several ceiling fans. There were restrooms and shower facilities, a sauna, and a new in-ground spa. However, it was very warm in the basement and we could only tolerate the spa for a short period of time.

Parking is a bit of an issue, as guests must park on the street. Keith had to back the car in on an angle and a hill - not an easy feat, especially in a rental car. There wree meters, so we put some change in and headed inside to the lobby. The desk clerk told us about a side entrance to make it easier to bring in our luggage (which was right near where we had parked). We asked about parking, and she told us the only parking was on the street, and that it was metered (maximum of 3 hours at a time), from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. She offered to have the staff put in money for the early morning hours, so we wouldn't have to rush outside to put coins in the meter. Apparently they do that regularly for their guests, and we forked over several quarters. The parking was probably one thing we would change, but the staff made it as painless as possible.

Inn Food

Hood River Hotel has a restaurant (Pasquale's), located on the lefthand side of the lobby on the main floor. Patrons can dine inside on the first floor, outside along the sidewalk, or on the balcony overlooking the lobby. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but we only sampled breakfast (on both days we were there). A continental breakfast was included in our room rate. When we had checked in, the desk clerk had given us vouchers for our breakfasts and told us if we preferred a full breakfast, the vouchers were good for $3 off (the value of the continental breakfast was $3). We opted for a full breakfast on both days. On the first morning, Keith had waffles and bacon and Lori had a cheddar omelette. We also ordered iced tea, which was mango. It was refreshing but missing that jolt of caffeine. The second morning Keith had the cheddar omelette and Lori chose eggs benedict, sans meat. We went for Cokes this time for the caffeine. Neither of us drinks hot coffee or tea in the morning with breakfast, so it can sometimes be a challenge when we travel (people look at us weird when we say no to hot tea or coffee). The food was good and consistent, not the best we've ever had, but also not bad. The dinner menu looked varied and if we hadn't been exploring the town, we would have considered dining there.

Inn Bar/Lounge

The restaurant, Pasquale's, also had a bar on the first floor. There were only a few seats and it was more of a bar to serve drinks from than one to hang out at. We actually did not get anything from the bar besides ice for our room, and a Coke the first afternoon we arrived.

Inn People/Service

The people we encountered were mainly those at the front desk and our servers at breakfast. All were friendly and helpful. Hood River Hotel has a great location, and we felt the accommodations were reasonably priced. This wasn't the nicest room we stayed in during our Pacific Northwest trip, but it was clean, cool, and spacious, and we weren't planning to spent a lot of time in the room. We would recommend this hotel to those visiting Hood River.

Area/Attractions

There are a lot of attractions in this area of the Columbia River Gorge. We were staying two nights, and had planned out our activities in advance to make maximum use of our time. Hood River bills itself as the windsurfing capital of the world, and it appeared they would be correct. We saw many windsurfers and sailers out on the river, having a great time. There are places to buy and rent watersports accessories, as well as lessons. We noted Hood River seemed to be a surfer town full of tanned hardbodies with roof racks in abundance. We were there just prior to the annual Gorge Games which center around the water.

There are several scenic waterfalls in the area. We stopped by two on our way to Hood River (they are located just off Route 84), the old Historic Columbia River Highway. We visited Wahkeena falls, which we could see right from the road. We parked the car and walked closer to get a better look. Wahkeena falls drop 242 feet. Only a half-mile down the road is Multnomah Falls. If you only stop to see one waterfall, at least see Multnomah. This is the second highest year-round waterfall in the US, and the most visited site in Oregon's Columbia River Gorge. Multnomah Falls plummets a full 620 feet and is breathtaking. There is a lodge at the bottom with restrooms, a snack bar, and dining available. For more information, please visit the Forestry Service web site.

On our first morning in Hood River, we planned to take a boat ride on the Columbia Sternwheeler, a riverboat that ran along the Columbia River on a 2-hour tour during the day. We drove 20 minutes east on Route 84 to Cascade Locks, where we bought our tickets for the boat. Although it was summer, sunny, and warm on the land, we were glad we had taken along sweatshirts for the boat ride. We wanted to sit on the top deck outside, but we soon realized it was too windy and opted for chairs along the outside deck one level down that was more protected. The captain spoke over the intercom during the trip, and was interesting and informative, including a few tacky jokes. Refreshments (soft drinks as well as beer) and food (such as hot dogs) was available inside. Although the captain claimed we were "shooting rapids" as we headed east towards the Bridge of the Gods, it was a fairly calm ride. The boat was clean and had modern facilities.

The captain explained that the many homemade docks we saw along the river were made by Native Americans who were exercising their rights under a treaty to fish from their own docks for salmon. As we turned to head back, two people held up their catch along the shore to show us - some very large salmon. We had chosen the boat trip in lieu of the railroad, because the train rides lasted 4 hours and we did not want to give up that much time. Besides, we had spent a couple days on a train a year earlier, when we were in the Canadian Rockies, and we commented that the Columbia River area looked similar to the Fraser River in British Columbia, where we had cruised through on a train the previous year.

From there we drove towards Mount Hood. It had been suggested that we visit Timberline Lodge way up high near Mount Hood, but after consulting the map, it looked like it was a 2-hour drive in each direction, so we simply took off south on Highway 35, thinking we would go towards Mt. Hood for a ways to get a good picture of it. We ended up driving 25 miles, took a few pictures, then turned around.

We stopped at a country store and picked up some bottled water. We were used to the humid summers of the mid-Atlantic region, and being in the drier Pacific Northwest, we found ourselves frequently getting thirsty. When we got back to town, we stopped at the Columbia Gorge Hotel, 4000 Westcliff Drive, Hood River, Oregon 97031, 800-345-1921. The hotel is supposedly the most luxurious in town and is historic, located on the eastern edge of town and overlooking a waterfall and the gorge. We had considered staying there, but ruled it out because we thought it looked a bit formal. It was pretty, and we paused to look out over the great view of the gorge. Lori put a quarter in the magnifier and Keith snapped a tacky tourist picture of her focusing on the gorge. We walked around the grounds a little and although it was nice, we were glad we had chosen accommodations in the heart of town where we could walk to things.

Dining

6th Street Bistro and Loft - 509 Cascade Street, Hood River, OR 541-386-5737
It was a beautiful day, and we chose to dine at a table on the upper deck. We had decided to try local things whenever possible, and Lori was happy to see there was a sparkling wine from Argyle on the wine list, which is what we chose (Lori had planned a later stop at Argyle winery). Our server was pleasant and asked us if we were celebrating anything. We just smiled and said, "vacation." We were in for one of the best meals we had on this trip. We were served wonderful herbed warm bread (we asked for seconds). Keith had a side salad with herb feta dressing. We split some chips and fresh salsa. The salsa was some of the best we have ever had - tasty and had some heat to it. It had just the right consistency - not too chunky, yet solid enough that it stayed on the tortilla chips. We ate ALL of the salsa. Keith had some penne pasta with mozzarella and parmesan in olive oil and garlic sauce with tomato and onion, while Lori ordered pad thai with shrimp. The meal was so savory that we just sat back and relaxed and enjoyed all of the fresh, complex flavors.

The 6th Street Bistro and Loft has been awarded a "best of ..." www.weloveourlife.com award.

Crazy Pepper Cantina & Mexican Restaurant - 113 Third St., Hood River, 541-387-2454
We walked several blocks uphill in the blazing sun to get there, and were soothed by the frosty air conditioning when we entered the restaurant. There were dark ceilings accented by bright colors, and the bar did have a colorful roof that looked very cantina-like. There was a separate drink menu and we were thrilled to see nearly 30 different tequilas on the menu - a rarity. We ordered a pitcher of margaritas made with Cabo Wabo tequila. Keith had the chicken chimichange and Lori had shrimp tacos. The Crazy Pepper served very good, very fresh guacamole. Keith - usually not a guacamole fan - helped himself to some. Instead of dessert, we opted for a snifter each of fine sipping tequila: Lapis for Keith and Del Dueno for Lori.

Nightlife

Full Sail Tasting Room & Pub 506 Columbia, Hood River , 541-386-2281
Full Sail's Web Page
This is a nice brew pub, with a great view of the Gorge. The brewery is employee-owned and it was evident in the smiling service. There is a limited menu with things like nachos and sausage. An outdoor deck is available, which is where we sat where we had a beer. Lori tried the Sunspot, which was a full-flavored ale, nice and hoppy, the way Lori likes it. Keith had an Amber, cask-conditioned, which he liked. Full Sail has a great logo of a yellow sail with the river and Mt. Hood in the background. It was so appealing that we bought Keith a logo hat to add to his collection.

Big Horse Brew Pub - 115 State Street, Hood River, OR 541-386-4411
It is a nice-looking place with a man-made waterfall out front. It is a hike up many more steps, but is worth the hike. We went up to the bar on the top floor, called Horsefeathers, which has a loft for entertainment (the band members have to climb up a ladder). On our first night (which was a Thursday), it was open mic night, and the live music began early. One began singing, accompanying himself on guitar, and more joined in. Climbing the ladder pretty much knocked out the possibility of female performers wearing skirts or dresses unless they were exhibitionists (there were diners immediately below). The performers hung a pitcher down by a rope for tips. Keith tried their "Hoof-a-Weizen" and Lori sipped wine. We enjoyed the impromptu acts, which started early (we think they started at 6) and ended at 10. The second night (a Friday), we saw a band from Cannon Beach, Oregon, called Los Comatosos, which consisted of a string bass, guitar, and mandolin. The band was very "tight," and two sang. There was a lot of instrumental music. Bill, the string bass player, came over and spoke to us for a little while, thanked us for coming out and staying and listening, and we ended up buying one of their CDs. We stayed nearly until closing. It does seem they roll up the sidewalks early in Hood River - we believe the latest places stayed open was midnight.

Weather

Hood River, being inland, can get quite warm during the day. We visited in mid-July, and the sun was hot and bright during the day, in the mid-80s. It cooled down to the high 60s in the evening. The humidity was low. Keep in mind the temperature is heavily dependent on elevation; if you intent to climb some of the local mountains, it is considerably cooler the higher you go (Timberline Lodge offers summer skiing). This is a valley and the weather can change quickly, so it is a good idea to have all-weather gear. We were glad our accommodations were air-conditioned.

Tips/Suggestions

There is plenty to do in this area, and it is mostly outdoor activities, so make sure you bring along the appropriate gear, including footwear. Although it was warm on land, we needed jackets out on the river. Hood River is full of steep hills, and even though we walk regularly, we found some of the inclines challenging and exhausting. If you have difficulty getting around, plan to drive around town rather than walking, as we did.