KEX Portland Hotel Hostel

KEX | Portland, Oregon

The Vibe: Social.

The Area: In the inner Southeast industrial district, one of the city’s most rapidly-evolving and exciting neighborhoods. It is a 10-minute walk over the Burnside Bridge to downtown.

The DNA: It all began with tea biscuits for hotelier Kristinn Vilbergsson. The first Kex, which means biscuit in Icelandic, opened in 2011 at the site of an old biscuit factory in Reykjavik. Fast-forward to 2019 and Vilbergsson was ready to launch a second Kex, this time in Portland. “I moved to Vancouver BC in 2012,” explains Vilbergsson, “and fell in love with everything about the Pacific Northwest—nature at my doorstep, all the friendly people, and of course all the food and beer!” Vilbergsson worked with former Hollywood set designer Hálfdan Pedersen. Pedersen’s vision necessitated a month-long shopping excursion to Europe, which produced two shipping containers of artwork, furniture, and unique objects. From these behemoth treasure troves, Pedersen pulled Egyptian tiles to create an oval bar—the centerpiece of the hotel’s eatery, Dóttir. “The tiles are from the mid-1960s, previously installed and walked on for decades. That is a rare find. Along the restaurant’s walls stretch creative banquette seating fashioned from old factory conveyor belts and upholstered in green canvas sourced from Vietnam war army tents. Resembled Egyptian storefronts from the 1950s frame the open kitchen and guests relax in a bar-lounge composed of vintage furniture, including leather sofas in tan and black. An outdoor area proffers a few tables bathed in the glow of the original Music Box neon sign from a now-shuttered Portland theater. Inside, a light sconce plucked from a Dutch palace glows in an oversized aquarium.

Suite-Me-Up: Rooms at Kex are shared or small. Fourteen deluxe hostel rooms in earth tones boast bunk beds with privacy curtains, reading lamps, and organic mattresses. Private rooms feature fireplace mantels reimagined as headboards and warm wool Geysir blankets with traditional Icelandic patterns. Bathrooms are a simple affair, all with showers tiled in white. With beds priced as low as $38 a night, guests are saving big bucks.

Seen: Hospitality Design

✅ free Wi-Fi • size matters: 15 shared rooms, 14 private rooms • hotel opened: 2019 • architecture: Hennebery Eddy • interior design: Hálfdan Pedersen, Baulhus • parking possible nearby (charged) • no pets allowed • 24-hour front desk • wheelchair accessible

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