Posted by Josh Berkus
Hopefully you’ve already booked your accommodations for NCECA, as many hotels are already booked up. In case you haven’t, or in case you’re looking for alternatives, this article will provide you with some ideas and information.
The first thing to understand is that the Oregon Convention Center (OCC) is located on the East side of the Willamette River, just across the water from downtown Portland. The area adjacent to the OCC is sometimes called Lloyd District after the nearby shopping mall. This area includes a bunch of big chain hotels in the $150 to $300/night range, including a Marriott Courtyard, a Crowne Plaza, a Quality Inn, a Doubletree, a Hyatt and similar. These hotels are pretty much what you’d expect from their national chains.
At this point, to stay in this area you’re going to be booking what you can get. Still, it pays to check online reviews on Yelp and TripAdvisor; a few of the hotels near OCC have unsavory reputations, and those generally still have rooms available. In contrast, the Hotel Eastlund is brand-new. Do note that even the hotels in Lloyd District can be up to 1/2 mile from the OCC, so you should bring a handcart if you have to lug show gear from your hotel to the conference. Also, check on your hotel’s breakfast options, as other places for breakfast in or near the OCC are limited.
As an alternative, almost any accommodation near the MAX train lines is going to be less than half an hour away from the OCC, 16 hours a day. So if you’re on a budget or looking for special accommodations, consider staying further out from downtown but near a train. For example, there are quite inexpensive hotels near the 82nd Ave. MAX Station, for those willing to put up with a very “seedy” neighborhood to save money. However, due to a roundabout route, hotels near the airport are a bit too far away. In more upscale options, there are some nice B&Bs on the East side of Lloyd Center Mall, such as the Lion and Rose.
Going Westward, the hotels of downtown are available to you, just five to ten minutes on a train across the bridge (which is also walkable if you don’t mind long walks). Several of these are mentioned on the NCECA website. While unlikely to be cheaper than staying close to the OCC, they may have more available rooms, and a few may have special deals. One spendy hotel I’ll mention on the other side of downtown, just because it’s spectacular, is Hotel Deluxe.
Portland also has a large number of properties listed with AirBnB and VRBO. These would enable you to rent a flat, apartment, or similar property, allowing you to house groups and save on meals by cooking. While these rental services are controversial politically, they may be your best option, especially if traveling with a family or pets. Do make sure to read reviews before booking these, since they are not hotels, and quality can vary a great deal. Also, check the transportation options from your rental property to the OCC carefully before booking. For example, while there are a lot of nice AirBnBs in the charming Alberta Street or Hawthorne neighborhoods, getting to the OCC from there will generally involve a long ride in a car or a cab (spendy either way).
Next week, we’ll cover your Portland transportation options.