Unless you are familiar with the region, you probably think that Vancouver, Washington, is across the border from Vancouver, British Columbia. Well, friends, this is absolutely not the case. In fact, I’m a geography nerd and our work requires us to be more than familiar with cities across the world. And at our ever-growing ages, we had no idea that Vancouver is nowhere near Canada.
It is indeed in Washington, but it’s actually across the river from Portland, Oregon. If you already knew that, then consider yourself fancy and relish the idea that you know more than your fellow readers. Take it all in and enjoy the spotlight. Good? Okay then.
The lovely people at Red Lion Hotels are a supporter of our “Fabric of America” tour. They covered our stay, and we’re writing about it in return. This journey would not be possible without them (and you). Read about their support right here.
Being that raiding a large city during our non-interstate and very long “Fabric of America” road trip is more than slightly exhausting, we took the advice of our supporters at Red Lion Hotels and jumped at the chance to stay in Vancouver instead of Portland. Bold move, considering Red Lion has three hotels in Portland, and it seems that pretty much everyone we’ve ever talked to loves Portland. Except maybe people from Seattle.
So yeah, off to Vancouver we went. After driving west from Seattle and down the Washington coast – making our drive about 2.5x longer than it needed to be, as is our way – we went into Oregon and through Portland, only to go over the river and through the woods and back into Washington.
The Red Lion Hotel at the Quay is literally that. It has an insanely beautiful river view, which it should, considering the outside of the hotel hangs over the river itself. This property was almost set up to be torn down as some fancy politicos and industrialists wanted to build a new bridge right where it stands. That proposal was finally struck down at the beginning of the summer, saving the life of the hotel and giving us the opportunity to haunt its hallways for a few days.
Because of the uncertainty surrounding its possible demise, some upkeep has been delayed. Why would you spend zillions on refurbishing a property if some fat cats in the state government are going to burn your property to the ground? That is completely understood. Fortunately, it has been kept up to Red Lion standards even though the outside of the hotel could use a little updating.
After checking in, we made our way to our plush king-bed room. Set near the river side of the hotel, it gave us sweeping views of the river outside, as well as the above road bridge that spans it.
Being that 99.9999999% of all hotels with desks only have space for one person, I was once again relegated to the lounge chair in the room. I’ve come to accept that as my work space, and was not let down here with a nice view out the window and a comfortable place to put my backside.
Red Lion Hotel beds are comfortable, and I figure this has to be one of their corporate requirements. We couldn’t be more thankful, as we love a good night’s sleep. While I get a bit ornery if I wake up late, I have to give credit to a mattress that allows me to sleep so well.
Bathroom amenities are quintessentially Red Lion, with eco-friendly Pure products and a shower that works like a shower should.
Not to mention the two, separated vanities, something we’ve come to appreciate about many of the Red Lion properties that have them. One inside the bathroom, one outside it.
Along the river and outside our room, there’s a public dock – and yes, a quay – where riverfront events are held and teens love to go swimming. This includes plenty of 15-20′ jumps into the river. Ah, to be young again.
Vancouver is a booming town. It has annexed smaller towns around it on more than one occasion, making it one of the larger cities in Washington even though it pales in size to its neighbor in Oregon. Despite all of its growth, it has retained a charming downtown that’s easily accessible from the hotel.
Full of independent shops and restaurants, a wonderful park, and historic buildings, we spent the fair share of our time here browsing the interior of the city while its residents drove from shopping mall to strip mall on the outskirts of town.
Also downtown is the historic Fort Vancouver, which obviously contains an old fort.
It also hosts Officers Row, which is a collection of 21 sprawling historic homes that are all on the National Register and are currently occupied by private owners, businesses, and town organizations.
We loved the fact that we could walk to all of this from our hotel, whose staff was nice enough to give us walking-tour maps that made it easy to navigate all of the morsels of history that surrounded us.
Being that it was about 490 degrees outside, it was also cooling to be able to take advantage of the outdoor pool at the hotel. Although I wonder, What do people do during the eight months of the year when it’s windy, cold, or rainy here? Who knows. I have a feeling that most people from this area are built to withstand way more elements than we are. What, with our avoiding-winter, full-time-travel ways.
When it comes to food, the hotel also had us covered with their on-site dining option. The Quay Restaurant features floor-to-ceiling windows that allow you to hang out over the river, giving you the sense that you’re eating on the water. Or on a boat. Or something. Probably on a boat, considering the entire thing is decorated in the fashion of an old ship, complete with ropes and sails on the walls and ceiling, which were checked for authenticity – down to the knots – by people who actually know about boats.
There’s also a separate bar inside the restaurant that has food and drink service, as well as a pool table if you feel like just kickin’ it.
Outside of the Quay Restaurant, a nice walk or short drive into old downtown will give you plenty of additional options. If you want to go a bit further, you can head to Beaches, an on-the-water establishment that is apparently always packed. Sitting on the patio gives you views like this.
Alas, more on what we did in our upcoming report of the region. If you feel like visiting the area and only want to spend a limited amount of time in Portland, or you feel like being in a smaller, more charming city, we highly recommend a stay at the Red Lion Hotel at the Quay.
Staying here gives you easy access to that big city across the water, but more of a local feeling by keeping things low-key and small-townish. It’ll also keep you closer to Mount St. Helens, the Columbia River Gorge, and more, without having to navigate the traffic of Portland.
- Location: The more relaxing side of the metro area, next to historic downtown in Vancouver, Washington.
- Clientele: Great for families and business travelers alike.
- Technology: Fast wi-fi, free for an unlimited number of devices.
- Beds: Excellent and plush. Lots of pillows. Easy to sleep long and late.
- Rooms: Decent size with a proper desk. Easy access to the river and quay outside the back door, as well as an outdoor patio good for lounging.
- Amenities: Cable TV, wi-fi, telephone, desk with a proper office chair, lounge chair, end tables, refrigerator, microwave, restaurant, outdoor pool, coin laundry.
- Bathroom: Plenty of soaps and lotions, good shower with plenty of hot water and fancy shower heads.
- Dining: Breakfast is unfortunately not included. The Quay Restaurant serves breakfast in its space and via room service.
- Staff: Wonderful. Very helpful with recommendations and putting up with us.
- Cleanliness: Rooms are very clean. Property kept clean 24/7, inside and out.
- Distractions: Outdoor pool, quay and patio outside the door, easy access to downtown Vancouver.
- Attractions: Fort Vancouver, Officers Row, shopping historic downtown, river (and swimming) just outside the hotel door, Portland across the river, Cedar Creek Grist Mill, Columbia River Gorge, Mount St. Helens, Mt. Hood.
- Snacks & Such: Vending machines, plenty of delivery and room-service options.
- Value: Excellent for a mid-scale hotel. Something different than what most people who visit the area do.
The Red Lion Hotel at the Quay in Vancouver, Washington, is located here:
100 Columbia St.
Vancouver, WA 98660
Tel: +1 (360) 694-8341
Have you ever been to Vancouver, Washington, or stayed at this Red Lion? Any thoughts about Red Lion overall? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!