Do you ever long for a place where you could get away, beyond the reach of phone, fax, and wifi? A friendly place where you could luxuriate in solitude with a good book and enjoy a meal, engage in conversation with interesting, maybe even quirky people? You’ll find such a place in Newport, Oregon at the Sylvia Beach Hotel.
Newport is a three and a half hour scenic drive from the Portland Airport, or a two and a half hour drive by Interstate. For the scenic option, start early and take Route 99W to the Highway 18 through the Willamette Valley where you can visit vineyards to sample Oregon wines. If you make a stop in McMinnville, don’t miss the handmade confections at Honest Chocolates where they macerate delectable Oregon fruits in equally delectable Oregon wine reductions and cover them, by hand, with chocolate ganache.
At the coast, head south on Highway 101 through the Siuslaw National Forest and savor the wild coastal views. When you reach Newport, turn right on N.W. Third Street, then left on Cliff. Park in the lot across the street from the hotel. By the time you reach the front desk you will have slowed down. The place has that effect.
Founded in 1989 by childhood friends Goody Cable and Sally Ford, the Sylvia Beach Hotel bills itself as a "literary hotel." It’s a perfect place for couples, friends traveling together, or solo voyagers who want to get lost for a few days.
Perched on aptly named Cliff Road, forty-five feet above Newport’s wide sand beach, most of the hotel rooms have Pacific views. Some, like the Agatha Christie Room, have sweeping panoramas, but even the bunk beds in the budget friendly dorm rooms offer a glimpse of ocean and sky. Rooms have names rather than numbers — Agatha Christie, Poe, Shakespeare, Melville – and are decorated in the style of the writer. Rather than phones or televisions in the rooms, each includes books, a writing desk, and some even have typewriters, if you know how to use one. (Hint: hit the carriage return.)
Spend the better part of the afternoon exploring the hotel. What makes this place truly remarkable in the twenty-first century is the lounge found on the third floor and the library in the loft above. These are designated quiet spaces and furnished with the sort of overstuffed sofas and chairs you might find in your grandmother’s house. The corner fireplace supplies cozy comfort when there’s a chill in the air. You’re free to pull a chair up to any window and prop your feet on the sill while you contemplate the view or get lost in a book. Coffee and tea are available around the clock in the adjacent kitchenette where you will also find games and puzzles, though a few pieces might be missing.
Find the winding staircase to the fourth floor to discover the library tucked under the eaves. Curl up on the chaise longue with plenty of cushions and a cozy throw and take in the view of the ocean. One of the hotel cats, Shelley or Dickens, might even curl up at your feet to join your reverie.
For dinner head to the hotel dining room, Tables of Content. All meals are served family style at tables seating eight offering the opportunity for conversation with fellow visitors. A side dish of a Pacific panorama and the occasional sighting of spouting whales accompany every visit to the dining room.
Afterwards, head down to the wide shore for a walk on the beach. When you have filled your lungs with salt air, climb the steps back to the Sylvia Beach Hotel and the historic Nye Beach area of Newport. If you’re inclined to take just a few steps beyond your literary bell jar, you’ll find the Village Bistro and Deli just across the street. Take a seat at their polished granite bar and sip a cup of specialty coffee or one of their excellent Oregon wines offered by the glass. Or better yet, buy a bottle to take back to the Sylvia Beach Hotel and share it with some new found friends while you chat about all things literary.
What and Where:
Honest Chocolates (313 N.E. 3rd St, McMinnville; 503-474-9042)
Sylvia Beach Hotel (267 N.W. Cliff,Newport; 541-265-5428, Reservations 888-795-8422)Helpful hint: If stairs are a problem, request a first floor room. There is no elevator at Sylvia Beach Hotel.
Village Bistro & Deli (741-B N.W. Third St; 541 574 9393)
3.5 hours from Portland Airport via Routes 99W, 18, and 101.
2.5 hours from Portland via I-5 to Route 20.
Bus service: Caravan Airport Transportation, 541 994 9645
Ann Hagemann is a freelance travel writer. She focuses on food and wine, life long learning, and luxury spas. Ann began traveling from her arm chair, reading M.F. K. Fisher and Calvin Trillin. She refined her palate with a course at Cordon Bleu and has visited many of the world’s great wine producing regions. She currently resides in Alexandria, Virginia. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.