Portland is a welcoming and delightfully idiosyncratic city, but I have long struggled to find a hotel there of the Harper standard. Alas, I had no better luck on my recent trip. We stayed in three properties, and all were deficient in some way. And, in general, service tended to be friendly rather than effective. Fortunately, we ate extremely well, in both Michelin star-quality restaurants and from gourmet food trucks. Predictably, the seafood was superb; Oregon produces delicious fruits and vegetables, and, of course, wines from the Willamette Valley now compete with the best in the world. We also enjoyed tastings at three of Portland’s excellent urban wineries.
From Portland, we headed north into Washington and after a four-hour drive took a ferry to Whidbey Island. We enjoyed a brief stay at The Inn at Langley, which offers majestic views of the Cascades as well as a sensational restaurant. After some kayaking and hiking, we again turned north, taking a ferry to San Juan Island for a couple of days at Friday Harbor House, which has benefited from a recent change in ownership and a thorough renovation. There, too, the restaurant was memorably good. Finally, we returned to urban life in Seattle, where we discovered the chic Hotel Ballard, situated in a gentrifying neighborhood about five miles northwest of downtown, an area that now has a wealth of stylish bars, boutiques, restaurants and breweries.
This issue also contains an account of a road trip through England’s North Country, from the historic city of York to Edinburgh, via the unspoiled scenery of the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District, as well as the wild and empty landscapes on either side of the Scottish border. Although we suffered some disappointments, we were thrilled to discover two atmospheric traditional inns — The Devonshire Arms Hotel & Spa in North Yorkshire and the Lord Crewe Arms in Northumberland — which both provided sophisticated comfort, distinguished cuisine and a powerful sense of place.