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Red Lion Hotel on the River 3.0

Portland, Oregon, United States

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Located directly on the Columbia River, with views from many rooms
  • Restaurant with waterfront views and outdoor seating
  • Spacious, modern rooms and suites with marble bathrooms and balconies
  • Nice outdoor pool area (one of the few in Portland) with ample seating 
  • Boat docking for hotel or restaurant guests
  • Two outdoor tennis courts and a small fitness center
  • Free Wi-Fi and plenty of parking
  • Free shuttle service with a four-mile radius
  • Entertainment including live music and DJs on the weekends
  • Pet-friendly rooms (for a fee)

Cons

  • Removed from Portland's main attractions
  • Dated decor in common areas and hallways
  • Some road noise from a nearby highway 
  • Only fast food options are located within walking distance

Bottom Line

Unlike Portland's purposely retro hotels, the old-fashioned style at the Red Lion Hotel on the River is not intentional. The common areas at this mid-range property look like they were plucked from the '80s. The 320 rooms, however, were renovated in 2016 and feature contemporary (though bland) decor, flat-screen TVs, and marble bathrooms. The large property has a vaguely resort-like feel, centered around an outdoor pool and two tennis courts. There's a restaurant with river views and guests can use the hotel's dock. There are also a fitness center, 18 meeting rooms and two massive ballrooms. However, this megalith hotel on the river is removed from Portland's major attractions. It could be a good option for families who need an outdoor pool -- but travelers who have neither boats nor a specific reason to stay in the area might prefer a spot closer to the action, like the reasonably priced Hotel Rose downtown.

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Scene

Huge business-friendly hotel on the river with uneven updates and generic style

Situated on an island in the middle of the Columbia River, the Red Lion Hotel on the River attracts boaters, groups, families, and business travelers attending events at the hotel or at the nearby Expo Center. The enormous property sits in a huge parking lot in order to accommodate guests and event attendees. The hotel’s overall style (or lack thereof) is bland -- but what it lacks in style, it makes up for in space. The building is a hulking, tan-colored structure with a covered portico entrance flanked by two granite lion statues, a nod to the chain. The generic facade stops short of having any rustic charm, despite the wood posts on the outside that seem to attempt at it. It’s evident by the hotel’s exterior that it’s an older property, and in fact the building dates to 1978. While only four floors high, the expansive property spreads out horizontally along the waterfront. A vaguely resort-like layout harkens to the family-retreat hotels of yesteryear. 

Some areas of the hotel have been updated with contemporary decor while others have not, giving it an uneven feel. Inside, the lobby looks dated, with no particular theme, style, or color scheme in play between the old chandeliers, leather sofas and chairs, tan-patterned carpets, and marble floors. A few bright orange, modern chairs next to the coffee bar stand out but don’t match. While common areas remain drab, the guest rooms were renovated in 2016, with fresh carpets, contemporary furnishings, and 55-inch flat-screens. The extended hallways make for long strolls to rooms at the end, though some of the space is utilized: Seating areas along the hallways provide places to meet and shared bookshelves provide a selection of used books. The large space is used to the hotel’s advantage, as conferences, large groups, weddings, and other events seem to be its bread and butter.

Location

On the Columbia River, away from downtown Portland but near the Expo Center

Map of Red Lion Hotel on the River

The hotel is on Hayden Island in an area known as Jantzen Beach (it’s also sometimes called the Red Lion Jantzen Beach), however there is no actual beach around. Views of the river are plentiful though, and there are marinas, a yacht club, and kayak rentals located close by. Hayden Island is a small island in the middle of the Columbia River, which serves as the natural border between Oregon and Washington. The island is wedged between downtown Portland to the south and Vancouver, Washington, to the north. It has some residential areas, but the main feature on the island is the Jantzen Beach shopping mall. The I-5 freeway runs right through the middle of the island, and is a two-minute drive from the hotel. 

Saying that the hotel is close to downtown Portland is a stretch -- it’s a 15-minute drive away, or longer depending on traffic, and the hotel’s free shuttle (which operates to anywhere within a four-mile radius) doesn’t reach there. The Expo Center, where conventions and trade shows are frequently held, is a five- to 10-minute drive away, while the Portland International Airport is about a 30-minute drive. The hotel shuttle can take guests to a nearby MAX station (Portland’s light rail) with transport to downtown. There's a nice waterfront walking path nearby, but the only businesses within walking distance are fast food joints and the shopping mall.

Rooms

Spacious rooms and suites with marble bathrooms; some have balconies and river views

Even the smallest of the hotel’s 320 rooms are a generous 450 square feet, making the property a viable option for families who need extra space. There are 24 suites in six different styles, including Fireplace Suites, which feature a gas-powered fireplace in the living room area and an extra Murphy bed. The largest of the rooms are the 1,250-square-foot Presidential Suites, which include a large bar area, dining table, and living room space. These suites have extra large bathrooms with whirlpool tubs (the tub area even has its own TV!) and a half bathroom near the entrance.

The rooms were renovated in 2016, and although the decor is contemporary, it offers little by way of style, with dull neutral tones in beiges and greens. The updates include: carpets, wall coverings, furniture, and 55-inch flat-screen TVs. Some details were overlooked and are still dated, such as the old alarm clocks (there are no docking stations for iPhones). All rooms have a microwave, mini-fridge, and coffee station. The suites feature brown leather sofas and armchairs, which like much of the furniture are locally sourced from nearby Bend, Oregon.

Rooms have spacious bathrooms with updated marble vanities and many have rainfall showerheads. Items from Cascadia Soapery, a local natural soap company, are provided. One nice touch: all rooms feature a second sink outside of the bathroom. You might notice that the rooms lack paper information packets -- all of the hotel’s info can be found on the TV system (an eco-friendly practice). Many rooms have small, private balconies with chairs overlooking the courtyard areas and river, though some also may get highway noise from the nearby bridge. Pet-friendly rooms are available for a nightly fee.

Features

Riverside restaurant with dock, outdoor pool and hot tub, fitness center, and lots of meeting space

The Red Lion's biggest plus is its location on the Columbia River, including a dock where guests with boats can pull up. The Jantzen Beach Bar & Grill offers outdoor seating with great views of the river and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Next door, JB's Night Club & Lounge is a lively spot with live music and DJs on weekends. There's also a coffee bar in the lobby, open in the mornings with grab-and-go items. 

Another highlight of the hotel is the spacious outdoor pool area (a feature that’s not common in the Portland area), featuring a small hot tub and dozens of lounge chairs and plenty of shade. Massive pine trees surrounding the pool add a woodsy feel that’s characteristic of the Pacific Northwest. There are two outdoor tennis courts with views of the waterfront. Inside, a good-sized fitness room has updated machines and and a TV. There are also a coin-operated laundry room and a gift shop, open 24 hours, offering souvenirs, postcards, and snacks.

A business-centric hotel, the Red Lion offers a large variety of event space, with 18 meeting rooms and two expansive ballrooms. The Grand Ballroom, one of the biggest spaces in the region, can fit up to 2,500 people and features large windows with river views. Audiovisual and catering services are available, as are wedding and event planning assistance. There's also a business center with several computers, printers, and a meeting space. The hotel has free Wi-Fi and parking with a large capacity to accommodate buses and events.

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Address

909 N Hayden Island Dr, Portland, Oregon 97217-8118, United States

Also Known As

  • Red Lion Hotel on the River - Jantzen Beach

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