I was a guest of Tualatin Valley and the Washington County Visitors Association this year and I received accommodations, food, and all activities in exchange for consideration here.
You’ve never stayed anywhere quite like this.
McMenamins Grand Lodge Hotel is pure Oregon, mystical, quirky and a bit out there, a getaway brimming with magic, served up with a side of mysticism, rooted in rich history. This former Masonic & Eastern Star property is located in Oregon’s wine country, and is a charming spot to launch your exploration of Tualatin Valley.
In fact, this would be a good place for me to insert all the jokes about staying in a repurposed rest home and being old and so forth. But I’m going to resist the urge.
I recently took a trip to Tualatin Valley to explore the wine trail and the craft beer scene too. McMenamins Grand Lodge Hotel was my second resort on the five day trip, and it delivered all the whimsy possible from start to finish. What I enjoyed about McMenamins was the fact that it’s located in the perfect spot to permit exploring the area’s wineries and outdoor activities. Also, this is the kind of spot that is fun and slightly irreverent. What’s not to like about that?
So What is McMenamins?
Rhymes with vitamins, the McMenamins are brothers who purchase old buildings with history in Oregon and then repurpose them into restaurants, event venues and hotels. They have done this for schools, churches and this old Masonic Lodge rest home facility.
There’s little I appreciate more than a clever repurposed space. Some of the most impressive restaurants I know are repurposed churches.
The Story of McMenamins
McMenamins Grand Lodge was initially built in Forest Grove as the Masonic and Eastern Star Home for the State of Oregon. It was intended “for the aged and infirm, and the poor and distressed worthy Master Masons, their widows and orphans.”
It opened to the public March 1, 2000 as McMenamins Grand Lodge Hotel. In 2017, it underwent a renovation that added the attic space and a series of literary themed rooms. The attic rooms were all named for the 22 books found on a list during the renovation.
Located in Tualatin Valley, the grounds at McMenamins are lush and lovely, greenery is abundant and the flowering plants add fairy tale colours to the property. Everywhere you look in Oregon the plants are thick and emerald green, so it’s a welcome change to see hits of colour and sunflowers exploding on the property.
Experiencing the Grand Lodge Hotel
I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t find some of the small touches here totally comical and one of a kind. There’s a good deal of humour in the artwork all throughout McMenamins Grand Lodge. My room was in the attic, which was painted in dark blues, with a smattering of pretend stars on the ceiling and walls.
There are no TVs in the rooms as it is a really old building. At first I wasn’t sure I appreciated that and went for the wifi at night to log into Netflix before bed. But there were also outdoor activities such as outdoor movie nights and there’s an indoor first run movie theatre, a bar and restaurant. So you can find things to do here, or go out and find something nearby in Banks or Forest Grove.
From the moment you step on to the hotel grounds until the moment you leave, McMenamins creates a relaxed vibe that’s slightly supernatural. Don’t worry, it’s not a creepy vibe, but rather a sense of history that sort of inspires a bit of admiration for the fact that this building itself has had many different lives and transformations.
Magic is Real
Located in Forest Grove, Oregon, the Grand Lodge leans heavily into its mysterious history. The grounds are lush and vibrant, with a look that feels like carefully contained overgrowth of flowers. Large columns on the building and the surrounding greenery give a feel of tradition.
That, I learned, is a very Oregon kind of vibe.
The grounds and the hotel itself make it easy to believe that the Lavender Lady does, in fact, haunt the grounds of this mystical place.
A Love for 2 and 4-Legged Guests
One of the best parts of the Grand Lodge Hotel is that it’s pet-friendly. That’s just good business these days. Many people travel with their pets.
While walking the grounds I also spied several conferences and celebration of life ceremonies. Although I didn’t know anyone there, just catching a glimpse of it made me appreciate the people in my life. It also seemed like a genuinely unique and appropriate setting for a celebration of life. McMenamins Grand Lodge hotel also does many weddings all year long.
Grand Lodge Hotel Accommodations
The Grand Lodge Hotel offers 90 guest rooms, each and every one of them as quirky as the rest of the hotel. Visitors will enjoy hallways and rooms that exude charm, like the children’s room featuring dark blue walls dotted with stars and headboards with a rooster and dog.
I stayed in a room on the recently renovated 3rd-floor attic level. Talk about a one of a kind experience. The dark decor is soothing in an odd way that reminded me just a little bit of the Fairmont Montebello in Quebec. Every room has private bathrooms, but there are also some quirky public restrooms and showers remaining harkening back to its days as a rest home for seniors.
The rooms are all named after a literary passage or book, which inspired the artwork used in the rooms themselves. In addition, all the headboards are hand-painted with scenes and images inspired by writers. There’s even a Grateful Dead-inspired lightbulb display on the third floor!
Grand Lodge Hotel Activities
In addition to the variety of things to do in the surrounding wine country, there is quite a variety of activities to enjoy on the grounds of the hotel itself.
Enjoy Ruby’s Spa or the soaking pool for some quality relaxation time. If you love music, you’ll want to go check out the live music acts because the Grand Lodge Hotel has live music practically all the time. Movie buffs and families will enjoy the outdoor movie viewing offered all summer long.
McMenamins is an atmosphere that is soothing and restful. The gardens set the tone for peace and quiet and the dark shades of paint create atmosphere, as does the art.
Touring the Area Around the Grand Hotel Lodge
While on my trip, I took a detour from the hotel itself and enjoyed some activities in the surrounding area.
The food and wine in Tualatin Valley is a whole story unto itself, so don’t miss Where to Wine and Dine in Tualatin Valley.
The one morning I woke up, had an impressive Eggs Benedict breakfast at McMenamins Ironworks Grill and headed over to Tree to Tree Adventures to zip line in Oregon. That was a blast and not at all overly hard or lengthy. I’d categorize Tree to Tree Adventures as a very family friendly and family owned medium level difficulty kind of zip line adventure with numerous obstacle courses for a variety of levels as well.
Shortly after ziplining I took a detour in my rented car and found a gorgeous lake. I took a short hike that led me straight to a stunning clearing on a pristine lake where about 7 deer were standing and drinking at the water’s edge. A boat dock nearby was being well used and just a few people were swimming in the water mid week.
Of course you can’t beat the views of the Tualatin Valley area around Forest Grove.
Enjoy the Grand Lodge Hotel for Yourself
Only 25 minutes outside of Portland, Grand Lodge Hotel is easy to reach and yet it also feels remote enough to be a getaway. On a scale of bland to astounding, the hotel rates a solid quirk-tacular. This is one of the most bizarre and interesting spots I have ever stayed.
From the almost mystical vibe of the grounds, interior, and rooms to the vibrant life both in and around the lodge, the Grand Lodge Hotel is the kind of place that welcomes you with open arms and seems to rejuvenate your spirit for the entirety of your trip.
If you’re planning a trip to the Forest Grove area, I highly recommend staying at the Grand Lodge Hotel.