The economy is changing. Jobs have turned into gigs. Homeowners moonlight as hosts. Cars are now rideshares. So it isn’t surprising that the hotel industry is shifting, as well.
The Jennings Hotel broke almost every rule in the book. It took a dilapidated brick building, which had been a boardinghouse and a tattoo parlor in its previous lives, and revived it. That isn’t shocking. But the source of the project’s funding was. The money was raised on Kickstarter, a crowdfunding platform that helps bring creativity to life. It was the first known hotel to do so.
The owner of the hotel then turned to local artists to reimagine the interior. Single designers brought each of the 12 rooms to life. One room has a warm Nordic vibe. Others feel like a cathedral and an artist retreat. While your favorite, Room 8, reminds you of an Oregon cabin with exposed brick, wood-paneled walls, built-in storage cabinets, and a handmade quilt. A light-filled common area (with a kitchen and a library) and a Scandinavian-style sauna (paired with a cold-plunge shower) were added, too. Typical hotel amenities—like a lobby, a restaurant, and televisions—were purposely left out, though.
So where is this Oregon game changer? It’s not in a big city, like Portland. It’s not even in a small city, like Bend or Eugene. It’s in Joseph. The remote community sits in between the Zumwalt Prairie and the Wallowa Mountains in the northeast corner of the state near the Idaho border. It has an artsy vibe, similar to Aspen or Santa Fe, with bronze sculptures scattered through downtown. It also has an outdoorsy side that’s focused on fly fishing, hiking, and whitewater rafting. Joseph and the Jennings Hotel are as unassuming and welcoming as it gets.