Accommodations fall into one of three categories (prices are for a double room):
|budget||$||less than $100|
|midrange||$$||$100 to $200|
|top end||$$$||more than $200|
We have marked exceptional picks with a 'Top Choice' icon, but every property we recommend meets a certain baseline standard for quality within its class.
Room prices listed are high-season rates, excluding local taxes. Prices vary widely depending on the season, festivals and holidays, whether it's a weekend and sometimes even vacancy rates. Prices are generally highest in summer (or in winter at ski-resort towns), and some places have two- or three-night minimum stays. Always ask about discounts, packages and promotional rates, especially in low seasons. Some places give better rates if you book online.
It's always a good idea to see a room before paying for it. Rooms can vary widely within an establishment. Reserve ahead during festivals and holidays, or in summer (especially on the coast). If you plan on arriving late, let your hotel know or it might give away your room.
Many lodgings have only nonsmoking rooms, but you can usually smoke outdoors. Air-conditioning is common in inland places but nearly nonexistent along the coast, which is much cooler. Many hotels take pets, but always ask beforehand (there's usually a fee). Wi-fi access is commonplace except in backcountry towns. Children (defined as anything from under six to under 18) can often stay free with their parents.
Except where noted below, rates listed in this guide do not include the applicable lodging tax:
Washington Outside Seattle, lodging-tax rates vary by county but are generally around 12% for hotels of about 50 rooms or more. Smaller hotels or B&Bs usually include taxes in their daily rates and this is what we quote. Seattle hotel rooms are subject to a tax of 15.6% (less for most B&Bs and historical properties).
Oregon Outside Portland, lodging tax is 6% to 10.5%. In Portland it's 11.5% to 13.5%, depending on the size of the hotel.
British Columbia Lodgings in BC attract an 8% provincial sales tax (PST) plus a 5% goods and services tax (GST). Some BC regions levy an additional tax on overnight accommodations of up to 2%.
If you want an intimate alternative to impersonal hotel rooms, stay at a B&B. They're typically in large homes (sometimes historical) with charming furnishings and just a few rooms – usually with private bathrooms. The owners tend to be friendly and are happy to offer advice on the area. Most B&Bs require reservations, though some will take the occasional drop-in. Nearly all prohibit smoking and many don't allow young children or pets. Substantial breakfasts are nearly always included in the price, which is usually between $90 and $200.
B&Bs abound throughout Oregon and Washington but are particularly concentrated on the islands of Puget Sound and along the Oregon coast. Countless B&B websites compile lists and photos, including:
- Washington Bed & Breakfast Guild www.wbbg.com
- Oregon Bed & Breakfast Guild www.obbg.org
- BC Bed & Breakfast Innkeepers Guild www.bcsbestbnbs.com
Camping & Recreational Vehicles (RVs)
Camping is a wonderful, cheap way to appreciate the outdoors, especially in summer. The Pacific Northwest is strewn with campgrounds, both public and private, and pitching a tent usually costs $10 to $25. RV-site costs depend on hookups but generally run from $20 to $40.
Campground facilities vary widely. Basic or primitive campgrounds usually have vault toilets, fire pits and (sometimes) drinking water, and are most common in national forests and on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. The state- and national-park campgrounds tend to be the best equipped, featuring picnic benches, flush toilets, hot showers and RV hookups. Private campgrounds are usually close to town and tend to cater to RVers, with good services and facilities such as full hookups, showers, coin laundries, swimming pools, play areas, wi-fi and even small convenience stores.
Most campgrounds along the coast are open year-round, but inland where it snows they close in winter. Dispersed (or backcountry) camping is permitted in national parks with a permit. It's a good idea to reserve campsites in summer.
Yurts, found mostly at state parks along the Oregon coast, are Mongolian-style round houses with a canvas shell. Reserve yurts as far in advance as you can in summer.
The Pacific Northwest has just a handful of hostels, mostly in the big cities. Hostels are an excellent budget option; what they lack in amenities and privacy they make up for in savings and a ready-made travelers' community. Most have cooking facilities, common lounges, information boards, tour services and computer access. Dormitory beds (sometimes segregated by sex) average around $30, with private rooms priced similarly to rooms in a budget hotel. Some hostels have a small charge for sheet and towel rental.
Hostelling International (www.hiusa.org) lists member hostels. Independent hostels have comparable rates and conditions to HI/AYH hostels. During high seasons, reserve ahead.
The word 'lodge' is used with great latitude in the Northwest. Places such as Timberline Lodge on Mt Hood and Paradise Inn on Mt Rainier are magnificent old log structures boasting dozens of wood-infused, comfortable rooms with handcrafted details. Most other lodges are more modest. Those on the lakes of the Cascades have cabin accommodations, campsites, boat rentals and at least a small store if not a cafe. Some of these are just fine; others are quite unspectacular. If your standards are exacting, check websites and make careful inquiries before heading up long mountain roads to marginal accommodations best suited to hardened anglers.
Motels & Hotels
Motels are cheaper than hotels, with rooms that open to the outside and often surround a parking lot. Hotels have inside hallways, nicer lobbies and provide extra services.
As a rule, motels offer the best lodging value for money. Rooms are unmemorable but usually comfortably furnished and clean. Amenities vary, but expect a private bathroom, cable TV, wi-fi, a telephone with free local calls, heating and air-conditioning. Many have small refrigerator, coffeemaker and microwave. Some have kitchenette, coin laundry and swimming pool.
In many coastal areas and in central Oregon and Washington, owners of weekend or vacation homes depend on occasional rentals to help pay the mortgage. Most of these well-maintained, furnished homes have at least three bedrooms. For a family or group of friends, these homes represent some of the best-value lodgings in the area.
Descriptions of rental properties can easily be found on the internet. Local visitor centers should also be able to supply information. Some restrictions apply: houses are often occupied by the owners on major holidays and summer weekends, there's usually a minimum stay of two nights and there may be a housekeeping fee.
Certain parts of Oregon and Washington are home to huge resort communities offering diverse rental options such as condominiums, apartments, lodge rooms, cottages and houses. These are usually privately owned and rented out for supplemental income. More upscale versions boast amenities such as golf courses, tennis courts, swimming pools and guided outdoor activities.