Hotel Monaco, Portland, Oregon

Posted on
Apr 16, 2012
Posted in: Hotels

Best. Wallpaper. Ever.

I don’t get interior decorating.

This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to anyone. I can barely dress myself, and I have the benefit of being scorned publicly by my peers – I can learn from positive reinforcement (no one laughed hysterically the moment I walked into the room? Great. Wear that outfit again.)
You can just imagine then, what little hope my home has, being able only to rely on me for its style. It is a dire situation, in case the tiki masks, the antlers, and the disembodied pinata head in my living room haven’t made that obvious enough.

Lest you think I was kidding before.

It’s cool. I can’t decorate. Like skinny jeans, I applaud those who can pull it off, and accept that it’s something that I won’t be able to replicate in my own life.
This might be part of why I love the Hotel Monaco in Portland so much. The decor is delightful, strange, and utterly unattainable. I can’t recreate it because I wouldn’t have the faintest idea of where to begin. I tried dissecting the design to make sense of it, but I couldn’t.
I mean, hummingbird wallpaper plus lacquered orange headboards and plaid cushions? HOW CAN THAT POSSIBLY WORK?

Note: the teddy bear is not ours. They just leave one in every room.

And yet, work it did. The Hotel Monaco is one of the most aesthetically delightful hotels I’ve ever visited.
It looks like it was designed through a collaboration between Willy Wonka and Divine. And I wanted absolutely everything in it.
Like this chair. It was covered in a pattern of barren trees.
It would have been stark and harsh and miserable were it not surrounded by levity and brightness. Like the inside of these drawers, which were lacquered bright green.

I considered recreating this at home, but it would probably end with me sobbing on the floor of my room, covered in green paint and shame.

I know I already mentioned the wallpaper, but can we talk about it again? This is the wallpaper. It is covered in hummingbirds. It might be the greatest thing I have ever seen, and my heart flutters when I think about it, something which is usually true only of my husband or baked goods.

I want it.

Of course, stealing wallpaper is impractical, so I set my sights on this lamp. Which I absolutely would have taken with me were stealing not wrong, and if my husband had not forbidden it (seriously, Rand, YOU NEVER LET ME STEAL ANYTHING).

Screw penicillin and the moon landing. THIS is mankind's greatest achievement.

The staff was supremely delightful, too. Especially when the crazy guest staying the fifth floor (hi!) kept calling to ask if 1) they had any spare lamps lying around (sadly, no, but you can find a similar one here), and 2) they knew who the interior designer was (Gino Castano out of San Francisco).

Oh, and did I mention the hotel has a pianist playing in the lobby during their nightly hosted wine hour, and that it’s conveniently located within walking distance of everything you could possibly want to see in downtown Portland?

If you end up in the Rose City, I highly recommend staying here. And you have the opportunity, see if you can score me a lamp. Or some wallpaper. I’m not picky.


As usual, all endorsements on this site are uncompensated. Rand and I paid regular price for our hotel and received nothing in return. Not even a duck-legged lamp.

Leave a Comment

  • I love that you *also* have a tiki mask in your decor. Ours is reddish but otherwise the same. 😀

  • Pan

    Don’t imagine I will be traveling to Portland anytime soon but if I do, I will be sure to stay here. It’s just the right amount of tacky for me!

  • OMG I love the decor!

  • And I hate when my finger slips and presses “Enter” before I’m actually done.

    Tell Rand to loosen up and let you fly that klepto-flag! I totally would’ve wanted to take the lamp too.

    And if I’m ever there, I’ll see about snagging one for each of us.

  • In a room like this one just couldn’t be miserable, with all those delightful colors and details. I could take those lamp legs.. and am already considering painting some drawers in my kitchen! How about the knives, spoons and forks in a pink drawer? I’m sure I’d be eating with some exceptionally happy forks for the rest of my days 🙂

  • If you and Rand drop by Salt Lake sometime you should check out Hotel Monaco here, too. It’s got a good view and the decor is awesome!

  • Trixi

    I seem to recall stale bread leading you to steal a sangria glass, hmmm?

    Ever been to the Hotel Rouge in Washington DC? That’s my next stop in weird and wonderful boutique hoteling.

  • Loving the crazy-but-it-works decor. I don’t know how you resisted the lamp. But I guess one day you may want to stay there again!

  • Oooh I stayed in the Denver Monaco, and it was equally quirky. I had a cow print chair, paisley drapes and a wild carpet. And I LOVED it. We also took advantage of the free wine hour, during which they gave out complimentary massages to everyone there. How can you not love Kimpton?

  • Portland has some amazing hotels, doesn’t it? Have you seen the Kennedy hotel? It’s a hotel in an old elementary school!

  • My parents have duck wallpaper- it has NEVER worked, and yet strangely you’ve made me forget that and order some of my own birds for a wall or two!

  • The Kimpton chain is my favorite chain! We always try to stay there (if we can afford it!) Actually my husband stayed there last week! I had to show him your entry and then thoroughly scolded him for not taking pictures…

  • Skippy

    My house looks like the hotel room, but not by any design of my own.

    I think it has been a matter of necessity being the mother of in[ter]vention. Can’t afford new? Paint it with the sale cans of paint! Upholstery fabric and wallpaper beyond your budget? Buy it from the bargain bins where it is on sale for a reason. And yes, your Mother In Laws hand me down linens from the 70’s will eventually come back in style. We promise.

    It also helps that my husband is wicked color blind and odd combinations look wonderful to him.

    So, yeah – I am an interior decorator. Who knew?

  • Cat

    LOVE it – especially the lamp.

    And (at the risk of revealing my own inferior interior skills) I like your little mix at home too – great mirror.

  • Loved the post! Thanks for showing such a beautifully weird hotel room. Absolutely loved the lamp!

  • Annie Get Your Fun

    I stayed there a few weeks ago with my forty-something gal pals. We loved that the Monaco rents bikes from downstairs in the parking garage. For five bucks you ride up and down the river trail and the money goes to a local non profit!


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