I'd been hearing a lot about Skamania Lodge from people around Portland (including Jane's blog post about it) and when Ben and I were making reservations for our annual anniversary weekend hotel trip, it popped into my head. The Gorge is one of our favorite places in the world and we got engaged last year in Hood River. It felt like a good spot to return to!
For our anniversary, we normally drop a good deal on a hotel room in a nice spot (splitting the bill), forgo gifts, and then bring a delicious in-room picnic dinner and nice bottle of wine. We like to make sure our anniversary is really memorable and away from home, yet never want to break the bank on gifts, dinners, and trips. To save some extra money this year, just two months away from the wedding, we opted to forgo a more expensive hotel on the coast with a two-night minimum and settled for Skamania, about forty minutes out of Portland in Stevenson, Washington. I'm kicking myself now as I didn't see the Living Social deal that knocked about $50 off the stay, but we chose a fireside room that was a bit cheaper than a "river view" room and called it good.
When we arrived around dusk and checked in, I realized that the hotel was both large and very family friendly. There were zip-lines above the parking lot and in the trees, a golf course out front, sounds of children coming from the indoor pool, and a ton of folks in towels out in the outdoor hot tubs. I think this was my first tip off that we may have chosen the wrong hotel for our quiet, romantic get-away. We walked up to our room and I was a bit disappointed to see that it did indeed have a fireplace but otherwise overlooked some trees and the parking lot. The room was pretty standard, clean, comfortable, and with standard amenities, but it didn't include the special touches that we usually look for (wine glasses! a DVD library! a wine happy hour! complimentary cookies or pastries!).
After my flu-y night (and an evening when we could hear our neighbors yammering and yelling), we woke up and went outside to explore. Upon coming out of our parking-lot-side room, we explored the front of the hotel and the view that the hotel is known for: the river. It was really clear that we should have opted for the $20-$30 room upgrade to a river view. It would have made a huge difference.
The rest of the hotel was really beautiful - the grounds were Northwest perfect and the views were spectacular, as you can see! I thought the lobby, large fireplaces, dining rooms, and the pool were all really attractive and lodge-inspired. In the end, I'd recommend this hotel for a stopping point in the Gorge, a less-expensive hotel option, and a great place for a family vacation! It just didn't happen to be perfect for our anniversary.
That all being said, I wanted to give you some recommendations for really romantic and high caliber spots to stay in the Northwest that we've frequented in the past and been impressed by.
Langley, Whidbey Island, Washington
1.5 hrs (including a ferry ride) from Seattle
A gorgeous inn, spa, and five-star dining experience rolled into one. This hotel was one of the most peaceful places we ever stayed. I dream of going back and lazing around Langley. Langley has a beautiful historic book and print shop on the island, a great pizza place, cute markets, and Whidbey is an overall fun island to explore.
Port Angeles, Washington
2-3 hours (including a ferry ride!) from Seattle
The Olympic Peninsula is an amazing place to visit and road trip through and Colette's is tucked away in Port Angeles, a town after Port Townsend and Sequim. The B&B is in a semi-rural area and on a bluff that looks out into the sound and across to Canada. At Colette's you can rent a suite - a mini house on its own and secluded from everyone else. They have a delicious complimentary breakfast and amazing happy hour and spa-level bathrooms. The grounds are a beautiful garden in the Spring.
1.5-2 hours from Portland
The Cannery Pier Hotel in Astoria is situated on the Columbia River and is only about a 10-15 minute drive from the Oregon Coast. Along with views of the river, you can also watch large container ships sail by the window (almost close enough to touch). Most of the rooms have a river-side balcony and the hotel specializes in luxury. There's a great wine happy hour, delicious pastries for breakfast, free bikes that you can ride along the pier, and fireplaces in the rooms. Astoria is a lot of fun to explore as well with a few amazing breweries and tons of antiquing.
Hood River, Oregon
About 1 hour from Portland
This is one of my favorite hotels in the world, as Ben and I got engaged here! It sits on top of a waterfall, overlooks the Gorge and Washington state, is in beautiful Hood River, and is a historic hotel that's haunted! If you're looking for history, romance, and a potential ghost encounter then it'll be perfect. The hotel is also on a gorgeous piece of property with a river, a family of ducks, a pretty garden, and it gets all decked out for the holidays!