Simon Benson, a local lumber magnate, had a vision of building a world-class hotel in Portland Oregon. He commisioned a prominent area architect, Albert E. Doyle, to design this vision. The lobby of the hotel was lavishly appointed with imported italian marble and russian walnut. The hotel was originally opened in 1913 as an annex to the Oregon Hotel, but after some financial problems Benson took over management, and the hotel was renamed. In 1959 an 175 room extension was built on the site of the former Hotel Oregon, almost doubling the number of guestrooms.
The hotel has gone through many management changes; the first was in 1919 when Simon Benson sold the hotel after he had proven that it could turn a profit. It has changed hands many times since then, and it is currently owned by Coast Hotels and Resorts.
The whole hotel was extensively renovated and modernized in 1980 at the cost of three million dollars. Five concealed doors were added at the time of this removation. There are two in the restaurant, one behind the front desk, one for the concierge, and one for the hotel manager's office.
The hotel's elegant restaurant, the London Grill, was opened in 1955 and occupies the basement. One of the hotel's secret doors leads to a small private dining room that doubles as a wine cellar. The room conviniently enough, is called the Wine Cellar, and can be reserved for private parties of up to twelve people.
There are a couple of ghosts that are said to haunt the benson. An elegantly dressed man is sometimes seen on the lobby's grand staircase, and the ghost of a woman in white has also been seen wandering the halls. The activity seems to peak when the hotel is undergoing renovation or modernization. Our waiter for dinner at the London Grill, who had worked there for 28 years, had never personally experienced any phenomena, but did mention that several guests had mentioned encountering the supernatural. Unfortunately, he could not give any specific examples of stories from guests..
We thouroughly enjoyed our stay at the Benson. We were torn between staying here or at the Heathman Hotel down the street. Ultimately we went with the less expensive of the two options to help our bank account, but were wonderfully satisfied. The Benson was not only the less expensive, but was also more classy and elegant. We ate dinner and breakfast at the London Grill. Both the service and the food were phenomenal. The breakfast buffet was excelent. We could hardly believe the vast amount of food that was spread out for the patrons.