THE BASICS Opened in October 2004, the Jupiter Hotel joins the ranks of boutique hotels with budget prices. Catering to the young and the grunge-music set in Portland, the 80-room hotel was the location for an art fair at the time that it opened. A complex of white two-story buildings surrounds a central courtyard. Music that can best be described as "jazzy sounds" is piped in beginning at 9 each morning. The courtyard has white plastic chairs for people to congregate. Information: (503) 230-9200; on the Web at www.jupiterhotel.com
THE LOCATION Situated at 800 East Burnside Avenue, east of the Willamette River, the Jupiter Hotel is part of an effort to revive this section of town, which has been neglected for many years. Downtown Portland and the artsy Pearl District are just across the Burnside Bridge, five minutes by car or a 20-minute walk.
THE ROOMS In the first room we checked into, the television wasn't working. The desk clerk promptly appeared at our door and escorted us to another room with a working television. Inside, the furnishings were quite spare. There were tables and dressers by Blu Dot, the Minneapolis-based furniture company; a low-lying bed with crisp white sheets; and some imitations of Ron Arad's Tom Vac chairs.
THE BATHROOMS The bathrooms were quite pleasant and, for the most part, quite clean. All the bathtubs were newly installed, as was everything else. But the stainless-steel sink was the size of those found in minibars. The door to the bathroom was just about falling off its top hinge, so it did not close properly. (The hotel had just been host to a tango festival, which may or may not explain this problem.) There was also a patch of mold developing on the ceiling.
THE CROWD Most are in their 20's; very few, if any, were over 40. Judging by those who hung out in the courtyard, most seemed less like young professionals than emerging indie-rock ingénues.
AMENITIES Adjoining the complex is the Doug Fir Lounge, a new restaurant with a basement space for live music. Although Jupiter's reception desk is in the restaurant building, the restaurant and hotel are separate businesses. The aesthetic of Doug Fir could be described as "Paul Bunyan meets Chelsea diner." Its interior resembles a large log cabin with modern furniture. The bar is the flat side of a huge log, sliced down the middle.
ROOM SERVICE The hotel offers a limited menu of food from Doug Fir. Available from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Prices ($4.75 and up) include tip. Be warned: Since the Doug Fir is a separate business, you won't be able to sign anything to your room.
THE BOTTOM LINE Have no doubt, the Jupiter is a party hotel. While it does not even come close to rivaling the hip but price-conscious atmosphere of the Standard Hotels in Los Angeles, the intersection of local culture and contemporary design makes the Jupiter one of Portland's most eclectic places.
Patrons leaving Doug Fir can be quite rowdy, and those booking rooms facing the courtyard should also be aware that hotel guests and visitors often hang out there. Their conversations can be heard in the rooms.
Advertised rates are from $89 for a basic room to $139 for a room with two beds, but the hotel has promotional rates, through its Web site, that can be much lower. Did I mention the midnight special? Guests who check in after midnight can have an available room for $59. "It's for those who just want to keep drinking after the Doug Fir closes," said the desk clerk. Um, right.