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The freshest lobster chowder, jagged cliffs, quaint cobblestone lanes, and the dark blue expanse of the Atlantic: Portland is definitely New England on steroids. In addition to being a quintessential East Coast destination, Maine’s largest city is home to a world-class dining scene, a smattering of cool bars and breweries, and an effortlessly charming vibe all its own. As you may expect, there are dozens of cute B&B’s and historic boutique hotels scattered around town, in addition to a few seaside resorts, chic downtown business hotels, and hip hostels. Here are our picks for the best places to stay in Portland now.
Best Overall: The Danforth
One of the most well-known hotels in Maine, The Danforth is a historical treasure nestled in Portland’s West End. Though the property has been around since 1823 (it was formerly a school and a church), the lovely inn recently underwent a series of renovations that gave it a fresh new look and feel. The elegant, nine-room hotel combines modern amenities with opulent throwback style, and the result is a true breath of fresh air. Rooms feature plush fabrics, crisp white linens, and tasteful artwork, in addition to all the essentials. Guests can enjoy a complimentary breakfast in the hotel’s immaculately kept garden, soak up expansive views of the harbor and the shimmering ocean waters from the original rooftop cupola, and explore the best of downtown Portland from right outside the front door. Whether you’re looking for a cozy boutique experience, the perfect honeymoon spot, or a lively base from which to see the city, the Danforth is a wonderful lodging choice.
Best Budget: Black Elephant Hostel
More akin to a chic boutique hotel than a traditional hostel, the Black Elephant is a stylish gem in the heart of the Old Port district that’s ideal for budget-conscious travelers. Offering both communal and private accommodations, there are 12 rooms (all simply furnished and sparkling clean) to choose from which run the gamut from multiple bunk beds to female-only dorms to solo rooms with private en-suite bathrooms. The hostel — a former four-story apartment building — also boasts a fully equipped kitchen and comfy, colorful living area where most hostel occupants gather in the evenings. The owners, the Loeber family, are passionate about creating a friendly atmosphere and offering warm, personalized services that go above and beyond what most other hostels offer. Best of all, the Black Elephant is near a cluster of popular bars, shops, and eateries, in addition to all forms of major transportation. For budget-savvy travelers in Portland, it doesn’t get better than the Black Elephant Hostel.
Best Boutique: The Press Hotel, Autograph Collection
The Press Hotel was home to the Portland Press Herald up until 2010, and today, the property’s newspaper legacy is still alive and well thanks to the space's many clever design flourishes (think: vintage typewriters, 1920’s-era desks, and other playful newsroom touches). The exquisitely designed concept hotel boasts several top-of-the-line amenities, including a flat-screen HDTVs, Frette bed linens and bath towels, writing desks with ergonomic leather chairs, mini-fridges, Keurig coffee makers, nightly turndown service, and marble-tiled bathrooms. In addition to the Press Hotel’s luxurious accommodations, the restaurant here, Union, is undoubtedly one of Portland’s best. Be sure to take time to indulge in local delicacies like seared yellowfin tuna, braised lobster, pan-seared cod, and truffle beef pot roast. Other property amenities include an art gallery, complimentary Wi-Fi, a 24-hour fitness center, a well-regarded wine bar, hotel bicycle rentals, exercise classes, and free shuttle service.
Best for Families: Sebasco Harbor Resort
Just north of Portland, the very family-friendly Sebasco Harbor Resort sits on a slice of gorgeous coastline, overlooking the crashing waves of the Atlantic. This 600-acre retreat was specifically designed with families in mind — among the wealth of activities offered here, there are beachside yoga classes, cooking demos, swimming lessons, guided hikes, kayak rentals, and a host of seasonal summer activities that run the gamut from ice cream tastings to guided stand-up paddleboarding. Apart from all the exciting services and activities, rooms at the Sebasco are top-notch: Guests have their pick between oceanfront cottages, lodge rooms, and village suites. For a truly unique stay, you can even book a room at the Lighthouse, which is comprised of ten furnished guestrooms that boast panoramic views of the sand and the sea. Parents can pamper themselves at the Fairwinds Spa, go golfing, or simply relax and watch the waves. When it comes to waterfront elegance and family-centered amenities, nothing beats the Sebasco Harbor Resort.
Best for Romance: Inn at Diamond Cove
Lovebirds are bound to adore the Inn at Diamond Cove, a serene luxury retreat on Great Diamond Island that’s just a 30-minute ferry ride away from Portland. Originally built in the 1890s, the Inn at Diamond Cove is the perfect place to spend a romantic weekend. The hotel features 44 cozy guestrooms and suites; many rooms have a kitchenette, while suites are outfitted with a fireplace, dining area, and oceanside balcony — talk about a wonderful spot to watch the sunrise with your sweetheart. The 50-seat patio restaurant serves stellar seafood and other delectable dishes (plus, there’s a taproom and bar), and the communal outdoor fire pit is a popular place to sip cocktails as the sun sets over the water. In addition, guests at the Diamond Cove get access to a private beach, guided yoga classes, kayak rentals, heated pool and hot tub, an exercise studio, and even an indoor basketball court.
Best for Luxury: Inn by the Sea
Tucked just off the rugged southern Maine coastline, the Inn by the Sea is a luxurious eco-friendly inn that incorporates the ocean in nearly all aspects of its design. The view from the hotel’s wraparound veranda — pristine sand and glimmering waves — will take your breath away, and the beach is accessible from a short walk along a scenic boardwalk nature trail. In terms of accommodations, a selection of single bedrooms are located in the Main Inn, though you also have the option of renting one of the hotel’s opulent suites. In-room amenities include iPod docking stations, top-of-the-line bath products, plush bathrobes, and the softest bedding imaginable. Most suites come equipped with spacious living spaces with hardwood flooring, stocked kitchens, and oversized baths. Hotel facilities are top-notch and include a sun-splashed common area, solar-heated saline pool, lovely restaurant, and full-scale spa. For travelers seeking truly luxe lodging during their time in Portland, look no further than the high-class coastal ambiance of the Inn by the Sea.
Best for Business: Hilton Garden Inn Downtown Waterfront
Thanks to a prime downtown location, the Hilton Garden Inn Downtown Waterfront is the perfect place to stay if you’re traveling on business. The hotel is just steps away from dozens of galleries, shops, restaurants, and bars in the Old Port District, and conveniently situated right across from the Casco Bay Ferry Terminal. In addition to the hotel’s unbeatable location, the Hilton Garden Inn has several amenities that business travelers are bound to find useful, including a state-of-the-art business center, on-site grill, free daily airport shuttle, complimentary Wi-Fi, and a heated indoor pool. All guestrooms have a mini-fridge, microwave, and 37-inch HDTV, as well as a coffee maker, iron and ironing board, large work desk with ergonomic chair, and daily room service. The on-site restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and there’s even a 24-hour “pantry” in each room that sells pre-made meals.
Best for Nightlife: Portland Harbor Hotel
Situated in the middle of a throng of Old Port shops, restaurants, galleries, and other local hotspots, the Portland Harbor Hotel is a top-rated downtown spot that nightlife-loving travelers are sure to enjoy. This gorgeous Victorian-style hotel has been awarded an AAA Four Diamond Award for 12 years running, which makes sense once you catch a glimpse of the property: It’s a truly grand, massive structure with dozens of standout architectural details, like carved-wood antique accents and cornices. Accommodations are plush and pet-friendly; all rooms are equipped with Wi-Fi, granite-top vanities, deep soaking tubs, glass-enclosed showers, and basic toiletries. Guests who spring for the Jacuzzi Suite or Honeymoon suites get to enjoy a Jacuzzi tub and peaceful views of the courtyard below. The hotel is also home to Eve’s at the Garden, a popular restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and does a great happy hour. For those who want to explore Portland’s after-hours scene, the Portland Harbor Hotel makes for the perfect home base since it’s adjacent to several beloved bars on the corner of Fore and Union streets.
Best B&B: Mercury Inn
When you hear the words “bed-and-breakfast,” do you immediately envision floral-patterned wallpaper, dusty antiques, and heavy wooden furniture? While there are plenty of B&B’s in the area that fit this description, the Mercury Inn is definitely not one of them. Impossibly chic and elegantly designed, this fashionable inn in the Parkside neighborhood offers modern accommodations in a B&B-like setting. The Mercury Inn also prides itself on adhering to strict environmental standards, in the form of low-energy LED bulbs and non-toxic paint and cleaning supplies, as well as recycling and composting everything possible. Plus, in the kitchen, nearly every food item has been sourced from local Maine farms and creameries. Guestrooms are funky-cool, with splashes of bold colors and eclectic furniture, and thoughtful amenities including a private bathroom, concierge services, high-speed Wi-Fi, homemade snacks, mini-fridges, and a tasty seasonal breakfast that can be prepared to-go with notice. All in all, the Mercury Inn is a true gem on the Portland hotel circuit.
Our writers spent 5 hours researching the most popular hotels in Portland, Maine. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 25 different hotels, read over 30 user reviews (both positive and negative), and stayed at 1 of the hotels themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.