Northwest Portland Hostel

Centrally Located – in the Heart of Portland

Northwest Portland Hostel Blog

How to dress like a Portlander

Thursday, January 2, 2014


The only thing that’s not unique about Portland is its name. Which is why it’s so weird that to fit in in Portland one seemingly has to embrace a singular “Portlandic” style.
Recently, there have been a number of T.V. shows (we’re talking about you Portlandia) and blogs (here and here) that have tried to capture the essence of Portland’s street style.  Travel Portland even jumped on the band wagon (or in this case probably a vintage Radio Flyer wagon) with their “Look Local” article that suggests tips on how to dress like a Portlander.  However, we feel it offered too many expensive options that don’t seem appropriate for a hosteler.  So what essentials should a traveler have to fit in with the locals without breaking the bank?

Here’s our two cents:

For the Ladies

1. Give your hair that just rolled out of bed look at the Aveda Institute where hair cuts start at only $10. The best part is you don’t have to roll that far out of bed to get there.

2. A Portland gal needs to look her best without looking like she’s tried too hard. Thankfully, there’s Buffalo Exchange where you can find that hipster outfit or shoe you’ve been searching for.

3. No outfit is complete without the perfect accessory.  Try Frances May. They have some seriously awesome winter stockings to keep your stems warm this season.


And the Gentlemen

1. Find the right beanie or hat to top off your look at Brooklyn Industries.

2. Check please. Plaid shirts are a Portland staple.  Find the right plaid for you at Crossroads Trading Company.

3. Grab a microbrew! There is no better Portland accessory than a cold microbrew in hand, and with over 50 breweries in the city, this accessory is the easiest to find and the most fun to share. Check out our brewpub map here.


via Portraitlandia

HI’s Big Blog Exchange up for World Tourism Award

Monday, December 23, 2013


Do you believe that local knowledge can generate global understanding?
In 2013 Hostelling International’s Big Blog Exchange believed and proved that you can make change in the world using the power of blogs.

The Idea:
The Big Blog Exchange was a global blogging contest whose goal was to use the power of travel and social media to break down cultural barriers.  Hostelling International sifted through over 1,000 entrants from all over the globe to pick 16 lucky finalists who would swap blogs and lives for 10 days.

The Result:
The finalists learned some amazing lessons on their trips that you can read through here, but we’ve gathered a few common lessons from their journeys below.

Eight common threads:
Traveling alone is possible and fun!
We are all alike
Traveling will smash your preconceptions
Travel gets you out of your comfort zone
Traveling lets you reinvent yourself or get to know yourself
Travel will shake up your routine
Jet lag will always get you know matter what you do!
Get to know the locals, they are the best way to get to know a place.

We at HI are proud to announce that the Big Blog Exchange is nominated as a finalist in the 2013 World Tourism Organization Awards for the Ulysses Award for Innovation in the Non-Governmental Organizations category.

The winners will be unveiled on January 22nd during the UNWTO Awards Ceremony in Spain.

Mikael Hansson, chief executive of Hostelling International said, “We are thrilled to have been nominated by UNWTO for one of the most prestigious international award in tourism. The Big Blog Exchange is not just about innovation but also finding new ways to promote greater understanding of cultures through travel. We truly believe that the power of education can help change the world.”

Good luck HI! Keep blogging everyone!


Hostelling International Great Hostel Give Back 2014

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Great Hostel Give Back is back for its 4th year! Throughout January and February 2014 groups of 10 or more can stay for free at HI Northwest Portland if they volunteer at least 2 hours in the City of Roses for each night they plan to stay at the hostel for free.

To qualify, groups must:

* Volunteer at least 2 hours in the local community during their trip for each night they plan to stay at the hostel for free.
* Host an activity at the hostel to benefit other guests, such as a community meal or a presentation about their service experience.
* Share their experiences at the hostel and in the community with HI-USA after their stay.
* Have at least 10 members.
* Complete the online application form.

hostel_Great Hostel Give Back

For more information contact Amanda Dwyer, National Sales Manager, at

Turkey Day Remembered

Sunday, December 1, 2013

There was plenty to be thankful for on Thanksgiving this year!  As always, HI Northwest Portland Hostel hosted a Thanksgiving feast for hostelers, staff, and locals.  This year we had all the essentials – turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and everyone’s favorite, stuffing! Plus, there were many other special treats provided by our wonderful community of guests.

One of our favorite moments from this year’s meal is the story of Joe, Yuki, and a tofurky.  The story goes…

DSCN0572Joe and Yuki participated in the Tofurky Trot, a 5k run in Portland on Thanksgiving morning.  The run is a spin-off of the Turkey Trot that takes place in other areas of the U.S., but of course, here in Portland we do it vegetarian style.  Well, Yuki won second place in the race (way to go!) and as a prize received a delicious tofurky which he shared with our hostel Thanksgiving!  While Joe, met a celebrity! The founder of tofurky himself, Mr. Seth Tibbott.

Portland. Just keeping it weird.

tofurky trot

Here’s some more photos from the day.  Thanks to all who celebrated with us this year!

DSCN0557DSCN0563 DSCN0569DSCN0564DSCN0567

A spooky success

Monday, October 28, 2013

On October 23rd the hostel held its first ever Halloween pumpkin carving event!  The result was a lot of spooky fun for guests and staff alike.

Check out the photos!

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Have a Happy Halloween!!

Happy Halloween

It’s late and we are sleepy,
The air is cold and still.
Our jack-o-lantern grins at us
Upon the window sill.
We’re stuffed with cake and candy
And we’ve had a lot of fun,
But now it’s time to go to bed
And dream of all we’ve done.
We’ll dream of ghosts and goblins
And of witches that we’ve seen,
And we’ll dream of trick-or-treating
On this happy Halloween.

(unknown poet)

We have a winner!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Back in August Hostelling International USA held its first ever national volunteer T-shirt design contest. The purpose of the contest was to find the perfect design to place on a T-shirt that we could give to our dedicated and hard-working volunteers.

The challenge of the contest was to design a shirt that our volunteers would look forward to wearing, and not to create another ugly boring polo shirt they might get at any other volunteer gig.

Well, today, we are very excited to announce that one of our own volunteers, Hilary, faced this challenge head on and succeeded!

We introduce you to Hilary’s winning design:

T-Shirt Contest Final Image

Congratulations Hilary! And thanks for helping our volunteers look chic!

To learn more about Hilary and about volunteer opportunities at HI Northwest Portland click here.

To learn more about volunteering for HI-USA click here.

We Are Proud to Announce Archibald Sisters is our September Merchant of the Month!

Sunday, September 1, 2013



In honor of their one year anniversary, Archibald Sisters is offering guests of the NW Portland Hostel and Guesthouse a special discount!

During the month of September

Get a FREE heart in Oregon t-shirt

when you spend $30 or more!*


  • Over 100 specialty fragrances and a variety of personal care essentials to choose from!
  • Quirky gifts!
  • Great souvenirs!


Located on NW 21st Avenue between Glisan and Hoyt Streets
Show your keycard to receive this special discount

This local neighborhood business is providing this generous offer during the month of September to the guests at the Northwest Portland Hostel and Guesthouse

*valid while supplies last


The Best of Portlandia: Catherine’s guide to the perfect spots to snap a photo in the Alphabet District

Saturday, August 31, 2013


The Alphabet District is Portland’s oldest neighborhood and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  It is roughly defined as the area bounded by NW Marshall Street, NW 17th Avenue, W. Burnside Street, and NW 24th Avenue (moving clockwise from the north of the neighborhood).  It was founded in the 1840′s by Captain John H. Couch (pronounced Coo-ch) who decided that Portland should be Oregon’s largest city instead of Oregon City, which was the main settlement at the time. Captain Couch speculated on a land claim in 1845 in what is now part of the Pearl and Northwest District, and there he built homes for himself, and three of his daughters. Later, Couch subdivided his land and sold it to investors who built large homes and state of the art rental apartments.

The neighborhood gets its name from its streets which run alphabetically northward from W. Burnside Street (which divides north and south Portland on both sides of the river) to NW Wilson Street.  It is a bustling place full of shops and restaurants; hiking trails and gardens; young professionals and families, and home to the NW Portland International Hostel.

Catherine, our Volunteer and Activities Outreach Coordinator, has a few places she’d like to share with you to capture that Kodak moment.

Catherine says:

“When I act as a tour guide for friends and family that have never been to Portland before, I always take them to the Alphabet District.  There are so many beautiful spots to photograph there – lush landscapes, beautiful flora, quirky statues, and old Victorian houses.  It is a wonderland for photo ops.

Here, Catherine helps you by recommending her favorite spots to “say cheese!” in the Alphabet District.


Forest Park is best known for being one of the largest urban parks in the United States.  It is easily accessible from the Hostel by foot, car, or bus.  By foot or car: take NW Glisan Street west toward 23rd Avenue.  On 23rd Avenue take a right and follow the alphabetical streets until you reach NW Thurman.  On NW Thurman Street take a left and walk/drive to NW 28th Avenue until you reach NW Upshur Street.  Follow NW Upshur Street to the MacLeay Park Entrance of Forest Park.  Or pick up bus #15 from 18th Avenue and W. Burnside Street to the park entrance.  Forest Park offers over 70 miles of trails to explore.  It also boasts an impressive diversity of wildlife (as many as 62 mammal species have been observed) and flora that are characteristic of the Western Hemlock Zone.  Catherine suggests snapping photos at the Stone House for a fun photo opportunity.  Or she recommends keeping your eyes and ears open – “You might spot a northern flying squirrel, a woodpecker, or a bobcat to take shots of on the Wildwood Trail.”


Washington Park is one of the oldest parks in Portland.  It is the site of many picturesque spots including the  Oregon ZooInternational Rose Test Garden, Pittock Mansion, Hoyt Arboretum, Children’s Museum, and Portland’s Japanese Garden.  It is also home to many wonderful smaller parks and play areas for kids, sports fields, picnic sites, an amphitheater, and great statues of famous Oregon figures.  To walk to the base of the park, take NW Glisan Street west to NW 23rd Avenue.  Take a left on NW 23rd Avenue and continue south on SW Vista Avenue.  Then, take a right at the traffic signal on SW Park Place.  Ahead you will find a staircase that will lead you into the base of the park.  You can also take bus #63 to Washington Park from SW 18th and Salmon.


When you are ready to head out of nature there are a couple quirky public art pieces that Catherine recommends for that perfect photograph to remember.

The Hogs of 23rd Avenue – The statues of three lounging cast metal pigs are perfect for a silly Portland photo.  The statues can be found on the sidewalk in front of the Nob Hill Bar and Grill on NW 23rd Avenue and Lovejoy Street.

Horse Rings – All over the Alphabet District you can find small metal rings anchored to the curbs of the streets and sometimes these rings will have small plastic horses attached to them.  The rings are maintained by the City of Portland and represent a time when the only mode of transportation in the city (aside from walking) was on horseback or by carriage.  In 2005 a group called the horse project started documenting the location of the rings around the city and attaching toy horses to them to remind residents about their city’s rich history.  Watch where you step, or you might miss them!

horse rings2



A Remarkable Flock

Wednesday, August 28, 2013



Chapman Elementary School, like the Northwest Portland International Hostel, is home to travelers from all over the world during the month of September.  But unlike the travelers at the hostel, the foreigners at Chapman School don’t carry passports or luggage with them.

This is because the tourists at Chapman School are birds – Swifts to be exact – who use the chimney at the elementary school as their nightly roost before continuing on their journey to Central America and parts of Venezuela.


Portland residents have gathered since the early 1990′s to wonder at the sight of the Swifts blackening out the sky and swirling as a vortex into the chimney.

In fact, so many Portlanders have marveled at the event that it is easy to say its become somewhat of a cult phenomenon in the city.  There’s even been a documentary made about the sight called “On the Wing” which explains the story of these birds and shows some amazing footage of them.

chapman swifts

So bring a blanket and a picnic and don’t miss the largest collection of roosting Swifts in North America!  It will surely be a night to remember!

Chapman Swifts: September 1st – September 30th from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm at Chapman Elementary School



PDX Adult Soapbox Derby

Thursday, August 15, 2013


soap box derby 2

August 17th is the PDX Adult Soapbox Derby on Mt. Tabor.  Now in its 17th year, the Adult Soapbox Derby is one of the most Portland-y events out there.  This is not anything like your childhood memories of soapbox races! This is a serious competition for some seriously fun-loving, gutsy, and some might say childlike, adults.

my soapbox photos 1

And where does such a daring event take place? Why, of course on a volcanic cinder cone! Because streets are for kids!  

my soapbox photos 2

 If you’re not already convinced to attend, then check out their website for more information.