Northwest Portland Hostel

Centrally Located – in the Heart of Portland

Northwest Portland Hostel Blog

The Renaissance of the Historic Alphabet District ~ Historic Homes Tour

Friday, May 10, 2013

On May 5th, as a benefit for the Northwest Cultural Center and Children’s Theater, our Elliston House was included in the Historic Homes Tour featuring our hostel and private homes in the Northwest Portland neighborhood.

The Elliston, which was built sometime before 1889, was originally located in southwest Portland on SW Park and Alder streets. In its early history it was named “the Comstock” after the owners Martha P.J. Comstock and her husband Croesus. Martha came to Portland in 1845 by wagon train when she was 7 years old.

In 1907, Martha sold the house for $6,250 to Colonel Henry E. Dosch and that same year, Dosch decided to move the house to it’s current location on the corner of NW 18th Avenue and Glisan Street. The cost of moving the entire building was $400, covering the cost of “clipping the interfering wires” and “cutting the building in two parts to facilitate removal”. The house was moved across the city on skids by two oxen.

After Dosch owned the house, it became the Wayward Apartments in the 1910s and the Elliston Apartments in the 1920s. In the 198s, Rick Michaelson bought the Ellision, had it restored, and finally registered with the National Register of Historic Places.

20130505_144114  20130505_144209

Now the Elliston is one of four houses that comprise the HI-Northwest Portland Hostel and Guesthouse!


Special thanks to Catherine A. for researching the Elliston’s remarkable history!

Recent Events at the Hostel: Earth Hour and First Thursday

Monday, April 8, 2013

We have had two exciting new events in the last few weeks: Earth Hour blind food tasting and our inaugural First Thursday Art Opening.

Earth Hour is a global event created by the World Wildlife Fund to raise awareness about energy consumption and global warming. Each year, citizens in communities around the world participate in Earth Hour by turning off all non-essential lights and electronics for at least one hour. From the Eiffel Tower to the streets of Beijing, and everywhere in between, lights went out and buildings went dark; a simple act with powerful results.

This year, Earth Hour took place on March 23rd from 8:30-9:30 local time. Following the “darkness” theme, the hostel decided to host a blindfolded food and beer tasting event. With the help of a few volunteers, we chose ten ingredients for the blind tasting competition, and a local brewer brought three different styles of home-brew to sample.  The ten foods were put in closed containers and set out in the main kitchen. As the lights went out, we lit candles and passed out blindfolds. In pairs, guests approached the table and were handed each of the ten foods, one by one, with a toothpick. After each taste, they wrote down a guess on their individual answer sheet. Those who guessed at leaset 8/10 correctly won a Heart In Oregon sticker, and everyone who participated got a “hostels are cool!” sticker. The kitchen was packed with guests eager to give it a shot! Food #6 was the real curveball (dried dates) and elicited a variety of reactions from “EWW” to “I know this taste, but what is it???” to “American food is weird…”. Most people guessed #3 and #8 correctly: sunflower seeds and kiwi. Other ingredients included radish, edamame, feta cheese, green olives, dried mango, and chocolate-covered raisins.

Thanks to all the volunteers who helped but the event together and to all the guests who participated so enthusiastically! It was definitely a hit, and we’re looking forward to doing it again next year!

IMAG0260 IMAG0263 IMAG0262


First Thursday is a monthly art walk that takes place in Portland’s Pearl District. Galleries stay open late to display their newest exhibits and (if you’re lucky) offer complimentary beverages and light snacks. The featured artist is often available to talk about his or her work and answer questions.

This month, the hostel hosted its inaugural First Thursday Art Opening, featuring bright, vivid paintings of Portland by local artist Michael Feliz.

NW Portland Hostel First Thursday

Michael Feliz Outdoor Market NW Portland Hostel

The First Thursday event was a huge success with between 80 to 100 attendees between 6 and 9 pm. Feliz was able to present his work to different groups that came through, and Jim and Britta (the hostel co-founders) were there to answer questions about the hostel and give tours. Wine and light snacks were available, as well as postcards of the paintings. Special thanks to Michael, his family, Jim and Britta for putting it all together!

Feliz’s work will be on display until August 2013. First Thursday receptions will be held at the Northwest Portland International Hostel in April, August, and December.

FirstThursdayApril2013_2 FirstThursdayApril2013_3 FirstThursdayApril2013_4 FirstThursdayApril2013

First Thursday Art Opening at Northwest Portland Hostel

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Northwest Portland International Hostel kicks off our inaugural First Thursday reception on April 4th from 6:00-9:00 pm. On display is a collection of vibrant paintings by local artist, Michael J. Feliz. His work gives classic Portland landmarks an uniquely whimsical quality with his use of vivid, multidimensional colors and perspectives. From the historic northwest neighborhood, to Pioneer Square, and the outdoor markets, his paintings illustrate the essential Portland cityscape for both locals and international travelers to enjoy. Small prints and postcards of the originals will be available for purchase, and the hostel will provide complimentary wine tasting and treats. Tours of the hostel will also be available.

NW Portland Hostel First Thursday

Outdoor Market – Michael Feliz.  Northwest Portland Hostel First Thursday Exhibit 

From Michael:

I was born in the Dominican Republic and moved to Miami, Florida with my family at the age of 5. It was there that I began to develop my passion for art and had the privilege to attend the New World School of the Arts. After graduating I moved to Columbus, Ohio and attended the Columbus College of Art and Design obtaining my Bachelors of Fine Art. After graduation I decided to move to Portland Oregon to continue pursuing my career in the arts. I have been in Portland for a year and a half now.

This is the first project I have ever felt totally immersed in. Not just with  the amount of time spent painting them, but also the desire to experience Portland through each of the locations that I was painting. The locations were chosen  with Jim Kennett. Jim and I really wanted to choose locations that were iconic and captured the movement and vibrancy of the city. Being a new transplant to the city, I wanted to portray the excitement and uniqueness that Portland possesses. The city has a very magical feel to it, almost dream like– my goal was to translate that on canvas and hopefully people feel the same way when seeing them.

I am currently working on a new series that will be displayed at that Riverplace Athletic Club in Southwest Portland in the near future. For those interested, my art can be found at

Feliz’s work will be on display until August 2013. First Thursday receptions will be held at the Northwest Portland International Hostel in April, August, and December.

Pioneer Courthouse Square- Michael Feliz. For NW Portland Hostel First Thursday Exhibit

Pioneer Courthouse Square- Michael Feliz. Northwest Portland Hostel First Thursday Exhibit

Downtown Waterfront- Michael Feliz. For NW Portland Hostel First Thursday Exhibit

Downtown Waterfront- Michael Feliz. Northwest Portland Hostel First Thursday Exhibit

Washington Park- Michael Feliz. For NW Portland Hostel First Thursday Exhibit

Washington Park- Michael Feliz. Northwest Portland Hostel First Thursday Exhibit

Celebrating Love and Romance with Cookies…Lots of Them

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The sweet smell of sugar cookies filled the hostel on Thursday evening as Caroline baked up a storm.  The counter was stacked high with cookies shaped like big hearts and little hearts, Xs and Os (which turned into amorphous blobs), four colors of frosting, and a variety of sprinkles. The hostel had turned into Cupid’s cookie factory.

It was a great turnout. Guests, staff members, and volunteers all participated in the decorating, and by the end, we had mounds of pink, red, and lavender cookies. It was impossible not to feel the love on Valentine’s day—the love of sugar and childhood frosting art.

Check out the photos!

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!