Northwest Portland Hostel

Centrally Located – in the Heart of Portland

Northwest Portland Hostel Blog

Meet the Volunteers: Melissa, Anna and Amanda

Thursday, October 11, 2012

We are lucky to have a great group of volunteers at HI-Portland, Northwest. From hikes to walking tours to pub crawls, these awesome guides give an insider perspective of local attractions to out guests travelling to Portland from around the world. Ever wonder why these Portlanders chose to spend their free time volunteer at our hostel? Here’s what Melissa, Anna and Amanda had to say:


Melissa Gittelman

I chose to be a hostel volunteer because I love meeting people from all over the world and thought it would be a fun way to meet people while I’m not traveling. What I like most is just all the connections you make with new people each week from around the world and sharing my culture with them and learning about theirs.
I’ve only done pub crawls and the Portland Burrito Project but I’d say the most memorable moment was bonding instantly with all the people on the pub crawl and feeling like we were friends after one drink.
I have lived in Portland only two months so far but I was living in Corvallis for 2 years and visited here a lot. I moved here two and half years ago from Philadelphia.  My favorite spots to go are the waterfront, saturday market, rose gardens/washington park and out to the Gorge for some hiking.


Anna Anderson

I live in the neighborhood and have walked by the hostel for a few years now. But it just dawned on me this summer that therewould probably be volunteer opportunities there too. Now I’m regretting not getting connected sooner! I have learned so much about other parts of the world as well as Portland and the United States.

I came along on a pub crawl one evening and ended up striking up a conversation with a British guy. At the end of the night I invited him to the party I was hosting the next day. He showed up, but I forgot to tell him that it was cat themed! I answered the door as cat woman. I hope he enjoyed the unusual Portland-esque dress-up party. I know all my friends enjoyed the international presence.

I grew up in Albany, Oregon but moved to Portland in 2009. I love Portland because of its quirkiness. It wouldn’t be weird to see someone in a super hero outfit walking down the street. There’s always a reason to dress up and act like a kid again in this city. It truly is where “young people go to retire.”


Amanda Sanford

I love meeting new people, learning about new places, and sharing a bit about Portland with those who are visiting. Volunteering at the hostel has given me the opportunity to do all three! I enjoy volunteering because I am able to interact with fellow travel-minded individuals while offering an insider’s view of the uniquely wonderful City of Roses.

I enjoy leading hikes in Forest and Washington Parks. I typically hike in all types of weather, so winter months can make for some memorable (and rain-soaked) trips up and down the trails. Remember: there is no bad weather, just bad clothing…

I am originally from Portland, although I went to school in Eugene (Go Ducks!) and lived in Eastern Europe for several years after college. I moved back to the city three years ago and love being in the Pacific NW again. My favorite spots and activities around Portland include Waterfront Park, Last Thursday, the local breweries (Deschutes and Rogue are at the top of my list), Old Town Pizza, and the Crystal Ballroom for 80s Video Dance Attack!

Thanks to all our great volunteers! If this sounds like something you’d enjoy, please contact Tessah at

The Great Hostel Give Back

Friday, September 28, 2012

John Steinbeck once said, “People don’t take trips, trips take people”. The most memorable trips are often rich with personal challenges, interesting people, and the chance to leave a positive impact on wherever you’ve been.

Travelers don’t often think of incorporating community service into their plans, but it can be a great way to meet locals, give back to the local community and now, with the Great Hostel Give Back, a way to stay for FREE in participating hostels (see below).

Throughout January and February 2013, groups of 10 or more can stay for free at a number of HI hostels in the USA while giving back to the community in some way. Here are the details:

  • Commit to at least 2 hours of service in the local community during their trip for each night they plan to stay at the hostel for free.
  • Commit to hosting an activity at the hostel to benefit other guests, such as a community meal or a presentation about their service experience.
  • Have at least 10 members.
  • Complete the on-line application form here.

Now you can travel with friends, save money, and do something to benefit others. Start planning your winter getaways now!

For more information or ideas about community service projects, contact the hostel in your destination city.

Participating hostels:


Hostels As Educational Resources

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

If there is one thing we hope guests take away from their hostel experience it’s that hostels are more than just affordable accommodations. Sure, we attract budget travelers who don’t want to spend the bulk of their travel money on a place to sleep, but along with this affordability comes a unique opportunity for meaningful travel experiences that cannot be found in hotels.

By nature, hostels, with their shared kitchens and common spaces, encourage interaction amongst guests. Connections between travelers undoubtedly lead to the sharing of languages, perspectives and cultural traditions, and often the discovery of unexpected similarities between people from around the globe. As discussed in the recent SEEN Magazine article entitled Youth Hostels: The Educational Component, hostels are great resources for students, as both accommodations for groups and as local volunteer opportunities. The shared dorm rooms mean less separation among the group, and the communal kitchens allow everyone to cook together while meeting other travelers (saving money and fostering meaningful cross-cultural connections), and there are often free hostel-led activities available, like city tours and hikes.

Hostels can also be a helpful resource for students living in the area. At the Northwest Portland Hostel, we invite international students to volunteer at as Front Desk Assistants and Kitchen Connection hosts, giving them the opportunity to practice English, meet other international travelers, and gain experience at a workplace in the US.

If you are a teacher interested in learning more about volunteer opportunities for your students, please contact Tessah at If you would like more information about student group accommodations, send an email to

Summer Isn’t Over Yet! September Events in Portland

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

It has been a busy summer in Portland and it’s not slowing down yet! September is just around the corner and the Portland events calendar is brimming with exciting activities for all, from music lovers to bike enthusiasts to bird watchers.


For the entire month of September, Portlanders of all ages gather in northwest for Swift Watch—an unforgettable natural phenomenon where thousands of swifts gathering in the sky above Chapman School’s chimney, preparing to roost. This beautiful sight can be observed an hour before sundown throughout September. For more information, check out the Audubon Society website. 

Image courtesy of Portland’s Audubon Society


For music lovers and concert-goers, MusicFestNW is a highly-anticipated event! Hundreds of bands inhabit over fifteen venues around town for a five-day festival. Headliners include Silverson Pickups, Passion Pit, Girl Talk, Beirut, and more. Local bands from the northwest make up a a large part of the lineup, so if you’re looking to check out our great local music scene, MFNW is the place to be. Don’t miss the outdoor shows at Pioneer Square! If you miss your chance to score a ticket, just stand outside the gate and listen. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit


The Northwest District Association is hosting a Bike-In Movie at Wallace Park on September 8th. The film of choice is none other than Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. If you arrive by bicycle, you’re automatically entered to win great prizes! Movie starts at 7pm, with live music and a climbing wall as pre-show entertainment at 5:30pm. FREE!


Here at the hostel, we have three more live music and BBQ events as part of our Summer Music in the Secret Garden series. Join us for an evening of open mic, headlining singer/songwriters, BBQ dinner and homebrewed beer. 6:30-9:30 pm on Tuesday, August 28th, September 4th and September 11th. FREE! All ages welcome.


Check out our Events In Portland calendar for even more!

Become a Hostel Volunteer!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Volunteers are an essential part of the hostelling movement, connecting people and places in a meaningful and memorable way. Through many free or low-cost volunteer-led activities, travelers are given a unique opportunity to socialize with locals and see Portland from a perspective other than what the guidebooks offer. From walking tours and hikes to brew pub crawls and live music, we offer a range of activities to suit a variety of interests. Without our volunteers this program would not be possible!

If you are an outgoing person living in the Portland area and you love to meet people from other cultures, we would love to meet with you and discuss volunteer opportunities! You can read our volunteer listings on and

For more information, contact  Tessah at




Portland Burrito Project Comes to the Hostel!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Portland Burrito Project is a community service group that meets monthly to make burritos for the homeless and hungry around downtown Portland. Started last November by Joaquin Ortiz, a MBA student at University of Portland, the PDX Burrito Project averages about 100 burritos per session, which totals almost one thousand free meals since they started 9 months ago.

This month, the group came to the hostel to cook and roll the burritos. Armed with pounds of rice, beans, tortillas, and an energetic supply of 80s dance music, they set to work preparing the food. After a few hours of cooking, the assembly line was formed, and within 20 minutes we had 90 burritos wrapped and bagged.


We set out for downtown Portland, following a predetermined route that passes by the homeless missions on Burnside Street, Saturday Market, and a few other locations where the homeless community gathers. The burritos were gone in a matter of minutes to friendly people who appreciated a hot meal.

Soon, the organization will be a registered non-profit and they can start receiving donations from various grocery stores around the city. Until then, it’s up to the members to pitch in the ingredients.

It was a great experience and an inspiring group of people to be around. We are excited to host the Portland Burrito Project again in August. Stay tuned for updates!


2012 Summer Music Series in the Secret Garden

Friday, June 29, 2012

It’s hard to beat summertime in Portland. Beautiful weather to explore the city and surrounding natural beauty, and plenty of free events around town. We are excited to be a part of what makes Portland so enjoyable during the summer months by hosting an impressive lineup of singer/songwriters every Tuesday in the Secret Garden.


With a the completion of a new stage, a full list of talented peformers, and plenty of volunteer hands to help, we are ready for the season. In addition to headlining acts, there are open mic slots available, so if
you’re in Portland on a Tuesday and want to show off your musical talents, stop by the hostel from 6-9pm!

German BBQ, veggie burgers, pasta salad, fresh artisan bread and home-brewed beer is available for a small fee. This event is for community members and hostellers alike so bring your friends and family!




See our website for the music schedule and artist bios.





Tea Time

Monday, June 11, 2012

One thing is certain. There is no beverage shortage in Portland.

Nestled between the multitude of microbreweries and coffee shops lies a sprinkling of specialty tea shops, ranging from traditional Chinese tea houses to trendy tea room-bar blends.

In Northwest Portland alone, the tea enthusiast can find at least four specialty tea shops, plus a variety of cafes with an generous selection of tea in addition to coffee.

Located on NW 23rd Avenue in the upstairs of a charming old house is Tea Chai Té. This locally owned tea room offers over 120 handcrafted tea blends, including (but definitely not limited to) chais, matés, medicinal teas, and housemade kombucha, plus bakery items and small lunch items, free wifi, games, cozy couches and chairs, and a small balcony overlooking the bustling street.

Further north is Smith Teamakers, a small tea shop with handpicked, high quality teas from around the world. The prices are reasonable, the shop is elegant, and the tea is some of the finest around. Smith Teamakers is not to be missed by tea lovers visiting Portland.

In the heart of the Pearl District lives Tea Zone and Camellia Lounge, a tea room, brunch/lunch bistro, and live music hotspot all rolled into one. This place caters to all tastes, ages and interests. From the bubble tea and vegan fare to the great happy hour menu and live music almost nightly, there’s bound to be something for everyone in the group.

Walk east toward the river and you’ll find Red Robe Tea House, a welcoming shop with a great selection of traditional Chinese teas, reasonably priced food, and a little taste of authentic Chinese tea culture in Portland’s Old Town.

Check out Yelp for more unique tea rooms in other Portland neighborhoods.

EAT: English at the Table

Thursday, May 31, 2012

We’re excited to announce a new program that we like to called EAT: English at the Table. In partnership with the Intensive English Language Program at Portland State University, the mission of EAT is to bring together the community of travelers passing through Portland with the community of international students studying here.

One track of IELP at Portland State University focuses on community engagement and volunteerism. The students seek out opportunities to give back to the community while being able to practice conversational English. At the hostel, the students volunteer by cooking dinner for our guests, choosing a recipe from their home country. They are then able to practice speaking while everyone eats together.

The small class of six broke into two groups of three students each. The first group, (Jung, Reina and Sylvia) made Japanese curry and rice. Before arriving at the hostel, they planned the recipe and grocery shopped for necessary ingredients. The plan was to cook for about 20 people, and it’s a good thing they did because over 15 guests joined, plus staff and the chefs!

The second group (Anderson, Yuki and Carla) made Japanese curry and rice as well. Fortunately for them, they were able to get advice from the first group, like to cook the rice first and to make sure and leave plenty of time to peel all the potatoes! It was another great turnout of 12 hungry guests for their meal, all very appreciative of the hard work that went into preparing the traditional homemade dish.

Both evenings went super well, and we’re so excited to work with them more in the near future!


May Volunteer Meetup

Thursday, May 24, 2012

We are fortunate to have an awesome, hardworking team of interns and volunteers leading our many activities. From free hikes, walking tours, museum tours, brew pub crawls and art walks, plus inexpensive homemade dinners and BBQs, our volunteers help show guests a local, unique side of Portland.



Because of their invaluable contribution to the hostel, we want to show our appreciation and gratitude! What better way to say thanks than with quality microbrews at one of Portland’s legendary microbreweries?

On Tuesday, May 22nd, we met for a informal volunteer social as a way to say thanks for their hard work, and to allow the volunteers to get to know each other better.

We couldn’t provide free activities without them, and for that we are exceptionally grateful! Thank you interns and volunteers!