Bridge magnet: riverside Portland brings a new kind of east coast charm


A Member’s guide to Portland

Samantha Bakall
Samantha Bakall


There’s more to the USA’s coolest city than hipster hiking and cold-brew Stumptown coffee. Luckily, Club correspondent and Oregonian Samantha Bakall is on hand to share the locals’ favourite haunts…

The route

As of June 2022, British Airways now flies direct to the curious city of Portland five times a week from London Heathrow Terminal 5. The flight, which covers 4,914 miles, will get you there in approximately nine hours, 50 minutes. Unsurprisingly, cheapest flights fall in the off-season (from September to spring – spring is an especially beautiful time to visit) and there are roughly 2,448 Avios up for grabs on a return, off-peak flight in economy. 

Sexy stays

The Benson Hotel
A classic, historic stay in downtown Portland, pet-friendly The Benson Hotel was built way back in 1912. Prepare to spend time gaping at the ornate lobby, complete with Italian marble floors, crystal chandeliers and walls finished in Circassian walnut. Its central location makes this hotel an easy home base for all-around-town exploration.  

hotel-The Nines

The Nines
Floating high above central downtown Portland and decked out in stylish and modern fixtures, The Nines (pictured above) is a luxe, heart-of-the-city stay. Its lobby sits nine floors above street level, with a wide, open air-style bar and restaurant filling the heart of the space. On beautiful days, head to the sleek rooftop bar and restaurant, Departure, for Asian-inspired cuisine.   

Lolo Pass
One of the newest hotels in town takes a page out of the hotel-meets-hostel book, with private and shared rooms. Private rooms are petite, but functional, offering a twin- or queen-sized bed with a small ensuite bathroom for those who plan to spend most of their time out rather than in. Maybe best of all, a sunny, rooftop deck serves food and booze until 10pm.  

The Great Outdoors

Japanese Garden
Home to mossy pathways encircling bubbling pools, meticulously clipped shrubbery and placid koi ponds, this tranquil space nestled high above the city is one of the finest Japanese gardens in the world. Outhouses around the entrance are home to art exhibitions and live demonstrations, including tea ceremonies.

Forest Park
One of the country’s largest urban forest reserves, this 5,100-acre park is home to 70 miles of trails that lace through old- and second-growth forest. Start at Lower Macleay Park and hike among the wildflowers via uber-mossy trails. You’ll spot the country’s tallest urban fir and the eerie Stone House built in 1936. Expect to see runners aplenty.  

Or why not veer a little further afield?

Mount Hood
To make the most of your trip, rent a car and head into the great expanse. Hikers, winter sports enthusiasts or those just wanting to see a mountain up close will want to take a drive to the state’s tallest mountain, Mount Hood, clocking in at just over 11,000 feet. The Timberline Lodge, sitting 6,000 feet up the mountain, boasts incredible mountain views and cosy, alpine drinks and plates. 

 Willamette Valley
Oregon’s award-winning wine country (with more than 600 wineries) is a perfect day trip for wine enthusiasts. The hilly region, lined with vineyards, is replete with restaurants and wineries, whose tastings often land in the $15-$30 range. Trisaetum Winery’s Pinot Noir is worth the pilgrimage.

The Historic Columbia River Highway
Glacier-carved and resplendent with rushing waterfalls and soaring, craggy cliff faces, this particular drive has found itself known as the ‘waterfall corridor’ for good reason. Timed entry permits are now required to drive the historic highway, which connects many of the waterfall stops, but the entire gorge – and all of its wonder (pictured above) – is accessible by the highway. 

Oregon Coast 
Welcome to a 363-mile-long stretch of stunning tide pools, rock formations and public, sandy beaches. Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach – a 235ft sea stack that was popularised on screen in The Goonies, Twilight and more – lies only two hours away from Portland. 

“Portland ticks all the boxes! It’s a must-visit city for any foodie or lover of locally brewed beers. Pair that with the stunning nature nearby, and, for me, it has it all.”

– Izzie Simms, British Airways Destination Manager

Good grub

This bumping Vietnamese cart draws lines almost every weekend for crave-worthy dishes distilled through a first-gen lens. Its hash brown-stacked breakfast sandwich with fish sauce gravy is a must. 

Lovely’s Fifty Fifty
Home to some of the city’s finest wood-fired pizza, Lovely’s Fifty Fifty pairs hyper-seasonal produce with airy, sourdough crusts and natural wines. Don’t forget to order a scoop of ice cream before you leave. The malted milk ball with Valrhona fudge sauce is a decadent end to a night out. 

food-Magna credit Carter Hiyama

Magna Kusina
Settle into Southeast Portland’s award-winning Filipino restaurant (pictured below) for beautiful – and fantastic – plates of lumpiasisig and crab fat noodles. 

and Rose VL 
Sibling Vietnamese soup spots are musts for those itching to taste what lies beyond pho. Six days a week, each shop offers only two soups until sold out. Get here early to make sure you secure a bowl. 

The city’s creative, Mexican-forward restaurant pairs its five-course tasting menu with history and mezcal for a delicious and stimulating night. 

Brewing spots

Upright Brewing
This funky, once-basement brewery was among the pioneers for Oregon farmhouse-style ales. Now, its fantastic brews, fermented with lots of fruit, Brettanomyces and wild yeast, are poured from an expansive, open tasting room. 

La Perlita
Sister and neighbour to Republica, this coffee shop is among the best in the city, with beans sourced from small producers across Mexico and coffee drinks infused with Mexican flavours. 

The city’s first zero-proof bar, this experimental space serves a three cocktail ‘flight’ paired with light snacks. Nearby subterranean bar Scotch Lodge or the rum-forward Rum Club carry a bit more kick. 

Breakside Brewery 
A perennial gold-medal winner at the Great American Beer Festival, Breakside’s eponymous IPA is an exemplary example of the Pacific Northwest’s marquee beer style. 

The souvenir

Did you know British Airways’ on-board tipple of choice, Aviation American Gin, is cooked up right here, in Portland? The brand started out life at House Spirits Distillery (you can still visit the craft distillery in East Portland) and – while still being produced there – has found its way into the hands of Diageo and stakeholder-cum-celebrity-connoisseur Ryan Reynolds.

Our direct flight from London Heathrow to Portland takes 9 hours and 50 minutes. To book your trip, click here

This article has been tagged Destination, Travel Tips