Northwest Portland Hostel

Centrally Located – in the Heart of Portland

Northwest Portland Hostel Blog

Valentine’s Day Fun at HI-Portland Northwest

Monday, February 4, 2013


It’s a silly holiday, Valentine’s Day, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun.  For those travelers who left their sweethearts at home for a work trip, grand adventure, or big move away from home, we have a place for you this February 14th.

Last year, we decorated sugar cookies and made handmade cards to send to loved ones back home. This year, we will have another cookie decorating party, and afterward, once heart shaped treats are properly frosted and sugared, we will head out to Ground Kontrol for Free Play Night. Check out their website for more info on all the vintage video games, pinball, and live DJs.

Don’t be lonely this Valentine’s Day. Come join the fun with other hostelers from around the world!

MLK Day Sunday Supper

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

One could sum up the vision of hostelling in this very quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr:

“People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.”

When people from around the world are given the opportunity to interact in a safe and comfortable environment, harmful barriers of misunderstanding and prejudice break down and new perspectives are born. Many people see hostels as inexpensive places to crash on the road, and that is partly true; however, hostels offer much more than just bunk beds. Inside each dorm room and common space, travelers from different cultures and backgrounds are having conversations about their lives and what matters to them. This bottom-up approach to creating a more peaceful world by way of meaningful, personal connections goes hand in hand with Dr. King’s beliefs. People fear what they do not know and do not understand. This is largely due to the lack of one-on one-interaction.

Our volunteer-led events, as casual as they can be, provide these one-on-one conversations and opportunities to build lasting connections with those who may have grown up halfway around the world, subscribe to different religious and political beliefs, or speak different languages.

Last Sunday, in honor of Dr. King’s birthday, we held a Sunday Supper at the hostel. Guests, volunteers, staff, and community members shared a homemade meal together and then watched the documentary Waiting for Superman about the public education system in the United States.

Earlier on Sunday, the Portland Burrito Project held its monthly community service work day, rolling burritos and passing them out to the hungry and homeless around Portland. Being MLK Day, it was a particularly important time to give back to the community, reach out to others, and form connections with those who are different from you. It was also a great reminder for many of us to be grateful for what we do have.

photos courtesy of Joaquin Ortiz 

Our volunteer, Theresa, was planning on helping the Portland Burrito Project hand out food but she came down with the flu. She still wanted to contribute to the project, so she purchased all the ingredients necessary to make the burritos! Thanks, Theresa!

Portland Burrito Project’s One Year Anniversary

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Portland Burrito Project met their one year anniversary last month and the Northwest Portland International Hostel was very lucky to be involved, not only in the celebration of one year of service to the homeless community, but in the meaningful work they’ve done as well.

The Portland Burrito Project began in November 2011, thanks to a few hardworking, socially-minded individuals, namely the founder Joaquin Ortiz. Now a recent graduate, Ortiz enrolled in University of Portland’s MBA program and was focusing on social sustainability when he decided to bring the existing Burrito Project, which was happening in the other cities, to the streets of Portland. From meeting in friends’ kitchens, to restaurants, to finally the kitchen of the Northwest Portland International Hostel, the Portland Burrito Project grew and grew. The goal was to roll about 100 burritos per session, so after one year, around 1,200 hungry and homeless people on the streets of Northwest Portland were fed a warm, healthful meal.

In December, the Portland Burrito Project celebrated twelve months of feeding the underserved community in Portland with a potluck and live music in our Secret Garden at the hostel. Congratulations to Joaquin and the whole team!

HI-USA’s Great Hostel Give Back Program in Cosmopolitan Magazine

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

As we’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, Hostelling International USA is developing a new program called the Great Hostel Give Back to encourage volunteerism by giving away free overnights in participating hostels across the US.

Cosmopolitan Magazine included the Great Hostel Give Back program in their most recent issue under the heading “14 Things for You to Do This Month”. (See #4)

Are you and your friends looking for a way to travel on a budget while also doing something to benefit the local community? This program may be perfect for you!

Here are the details of the Great Hostel Give Back Program:

  • 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.

Need ideas for community service opportunities in the Portland Area? Check out Hands On Greater Portland for thousands of volunteer jobs and organizations looking for help.

Thanksgiving at the Hostel!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Each year, HI-Portland Northwest hosts a Thanksgiving meal for guests, staff, volunteers and other community members.

The hostel provides turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce. The rest of the meal comes potluck style, each dinner guest bringing a side of their choice. This year, we had brussel sprouts, roasted vegetables, cornbread muffins, dumplings, pumpkin pie, berry pie and two kinds of cookies! 30 people joined the feast and barely any leftovers survived.

Milan, a traveler from Czech Republic, was excited about his first American Thanksgiving dinner. He was skeptical about filling a turkey with soggy bread, but after one taste of stuffing he was hooked.

Thanks to all who celebrated with us this year!

Merchant of the Month: Modern Love Cafe

Monday, November 12, 2012

Merchant of the Month is back! For November and December 2012, our hostel guests and all Hostelling International members receive some great discounts at Modern Love Cafe, a local breakfast and lunch cafe just five blocks north of the Northwest Portland Hostel.

The deals is as follows:

Free bakery item with purchase of a coffee or espresso drink, or free soup or side salad with purchase of a wrap or panini.

Check them out!

EAT: English at the Table

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Last spring, HI-Portland, Northwest partnered with Portland State University’s Intensive English Language Program (IELP) and created EAT: English at the Table, an evening of food and English conversation. Tonight, we hosted a new class of ESL students in IELP, Brandy, Masumi, Erin and Tad. Together, they cooked up a feast and fed 17 hungry hostellers, all the while practicing their English and interacting with travelers from around the globe.

The menu included three types of fried rice (ham, shrimp and vegetarian), Chinese egg drop soup, and homemade brownies topped with fresh banana. By the end of the meal, not a scrap of leftovers remained. The students were tired from cooking but energized from such a great response by our guests as they chatted in the kitchen and finished the evening relaxing in the Secret Garden.

Thanks to the students and their teacher, Phoebe, for hosting such a successful dinner. Can’t wait for the next group on November 20th!

Take a look at some photos from the evening here:

Reminder: The Great Hostel Give Back This Winter!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A couple months ago we posted information about the Great Hostel Give Back, a program which provides opportunities for meaningful travel.

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:


2012 Volunteer Recognition Dinner and Award Ceremony

Monday, October 29, 2012

On October 16th, HI-Portland, Northwest teamed up with HI-Portland, Hawthorne and the HI-Oregon Council to host an appreciation event for our incredible, hardworking volunteers. This past year we have all been fortunate to welcome new volunteers, develop new programs and continue to build a globally-minded community here in Portland, thus furthering the mission of Hostelling International.

The event was a huge success with a great turnout, tasty food and drinks, and even cooperative weather. After honoring each volunteer, we handed out volunteer of the year awards to those who had gone even further to give hostellers a meaningful experience while visiting Portland. We chose Deb Ralls for the HI-Portland, Northwest Volunteer of the Year for leading 38 walking tours in the last year, covering over 110 miles. Her impressive tours, along with her enthusiasm and warm, welcoming attitude make her an invaluable asset to our volunteer team. Huge thanks to Deb and all our other volunteers!

Here are some photos from the event.

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