Northwest Portland Hostel

Centrally Located – in the Heart of Portland

Northwest Portland Hostel Blog

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!


Kitchen Connection- Shepherd’s Pie!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Kathrin, our intern from Germany, writes a guest blog post about cooking for hostellers!


During our last Kitchen Connection we cooked a Shepherd’s Pie…..for the first time!

We totaly entered unknown territory as we were from Germany.

We, that means: Laura, Ida and me, Kathrin.

And of course we were more exited, as we heard that nearly all participants were from Great Britain…..the one and only Shepherd’s Pie country ;-)

For all who have never tried a Shepherd’s Pie, here is the recipe for approx. 14 persons:


For the potatoes:   

4½ pounds russet potatoes (about 3 big ones)
 ¾ cup milk (or vegetable broth)
6 ounces unsalted butter or margarine
2¼  teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the meat filling:

6 tablespoons canola oil
3 cup onions, diced
6 carrots, peeled and diced small
6 cloves garlic, minced
4½ pounds ground beef
3 teaspoon salt ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 teaspoons tomato paste
3 cup vegetable broth
6 teaspoons freshly chopped rosemary leaves
3 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves
3 cup fresh or frozen English peas            


  1. Peel the potatoes and cut into ½ -inch dice. Place in pasta pot(s) and cover with cold water. Set over high heat, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, uncover, decrease the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until tender and easily crushed with masher, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Dice the onions and carrots, and mince the garlic.
  3. Drain the potatoes (in a colander and then return to the saucepan). Mash the potatoes and then add the milk, butter/margarine, salt and pepper and continue to mash until smooth.
  4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  5. Place 2 tablespoons canola oil into each frying pan and set over medium high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add ⅓ of each the onion and carrots and saute just until they begin to take on color, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Add ⅓ of the garlic to each pan and stir to combine. Add 1½  pounds of minced beef in each pan, salt and pepper and cook until browned and cooked through, approximately 3 minutes. Sprinkle the meat with the flour (2 tablespoons per pan) and stir to coat, continuing to cook for another minute. Then add to each pan, 2 tablespoons, tomato paste,1 cup chicken broth 2 teaspoons rosemary, 1 teaspoon thyme, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly 10 to 12 minutes or until the sauce is thickened slightly.
  6. Once the sauce is thickened, add the corn and peas to the beef mixture and spread evenly into a 9×13 baking pan. Top with the mashed potatoes, starting around the edges to create a seal to prevent the mixture from bubbling up and smooth with a rubber spatula. Place on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25 minutes or just until the potatoes begin to brown. Remove to a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Serve with a salad.

For all the non meat eaters, we also made a vegetarian version…..just replace the meat with any vegetable you like.

We used zucchinis, bell peppers, mushrooms, carrots and peas.

It needs its time, but it pays.

At the end we had one large meat Shepherd´s Pie and two small vegeterian Shepherd´s Pies.

Believe it or not, the pie was eaten up in a jiffy and we got standing ovationas for our cullinary skills.

Thanks to our english group who ate their meal so dutifully.

Spaces to Gather- Portland’s Public Parks

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

One of the most unique and desirable qualities of a hostel is the communal space in which you meet other guests. Kitchens, common areas, gardens, and dorm rooms provide ideal spaces for travelers to meet and get to know each other. Most hotels and motels don’t allow for the same interactions and shared experiences, simply because of their lack of communal atmosphere. Those who love hostels know that making friends on the road is an invaluable benefit to traveling, and hostel common spaces help facilitate these new relationships being formed between people from around the world.

Similar to hostels, cities attract a people from all backgrounds and cultures, bringing them together in a variety of ways and places. From bars and restaurants, to parks and public squares, cities like Portland foster a natural desire for social interaction. It has been said (and blogged about) many times that Portland has great bars and restaurants, but now that spring is in full swing and we no longer have to stay warm with winter ales, let’s take a moment to admire the beautiful public parks and squares this city has to offer.

Forest Park and Washington Park are the largest parks in Portland, but let’s leave those out for this blog post and focus on the smaller parks and gathering spaces around the city. Not your typical green, city park is Director Park, with its modern glass roof to block the rain but not the sunlight, fountain and wading pool, and giant chess games. This square also hosts a variety of events, like poetry readings and Shakespeare plays. Grab lunch from the food carts just three blocks away and enjoy your meal on the steps.

Next we head toward the Portland Art Museum to the South Park Blocks. Home to Portland State University and the Saturday Farmers Market.

From the South Park Blocks, we stroll into the city center–Pioneer Courthouse Square. With its red brick steps, mini-amphitheater, and food trucks, it’s the ideal meeting spot and people-watching haven. Follow the link for their many events, including public speakers, free movies and concerts, beer and food festivals, and more!

From Pioneer Square, we move east to the waterfront. A faint smell of doughnuts wafts through the air and we realize Voodoo Doughnut is just around the corner! What better place to enjoy your coffee and doughnuts that these lovely picnic tables?

One block further east and we’ve reached the Willamette river, lined to the west by Tom McCall Waterfront Park, and ideal location to walk, jog, bike, read, nap, play in the fountain, munch on a picnic lunch from the nearby food carts, or just relax in the shade. On Saturdays and Sundays, be sure to check out Portland’s famous Saturday Market.

These are only a few of Portland’s renowned public spaces. For more ideas on where to hang out, meet the locals, enjoy that new book from Powell’s, or a tasty vegan treat, check out the Portland Parks and Recreation website.