McMenamins Grand Lodge: A Hotel with a Flair for the Fanciful
A former Masonic & Eastern Star property 25 miles west of Portland
McMenamins Grand Lodge in Forest Grove, Oregon gives new meaning to the word funky — also whimsical, droll and quirky. Oh yes, and historic. But if you’re looking for glitz or glamour — not to mention basic amenities such as a TV or a dresser — the hotel is not for you. If bizarre appeals, you’re in the right place.
The hallways are sensory overload. Photos and paintings crowd the walls along with kitschy sayings and names on every door from the recognizable to the never-heard-ofs. The seemingly random décor appears with little explanation though I later learned the basement is devoted to musicians, the first floor American history, the second landing local history and the Attic, to books. Hard to tell.
Not a wall, column, ceiling or molding is left unadorned, including pubs, restaurants and guestrooms. Surreal is the word that most often comes to mind. There is a “Hallway Tour List” but even with that it is frustratingly difficult to identify what you’re looking at. It’s easier just not knowing.
Did I mention the secret doors?? Of course, there are. But you have to go to the top floor, negotiate the cavernous hallways until you find an over-head blue light. Push on the wall and voila – an ominous secret room. The first, an eerie subterranean grotto with painted stalactites and stalagmites. The second, not as sinister – just a smaller room rimmed with pictures of gigantic toadstools. At some point, I stopped trying to make sense of any of it.
The all-organic, full-service Ruby’s Spa seemed almost normal. Its highlight, though somewhat removed, is embodied in a free-form outdoor Jacuzzi soaking pool in a very secluded bucolic setting surrounded by rocks and greenery. Not much about the rest of the hotel can be classified as bucolic.
The sign at the front desk, “Escape the Ordinary” barely does the hotel justice!
For more information, visit www.mcmenamins.com/grand-lodge.