Run Oregon Road Trip to KEX in PDX

Run Oregon loves running – that’s no surprise. In our Run Oregon Road Trip series, we aim to showcase some great locations to make your running basecamp on your next vacation of staycation. We recently spent an evening at KEX in downtown Portland. 

First the Running:

  • Waterfront Loop
  • Willamette River Greenway Trail (~5 miles)
    • While this may basically be an extension of the Waterfront Loop, I consider it a different route altogether. I always find myself heading out this way when I’m in town. It’s primarily right on the river (aside from a few detours), and is a lot quieter than the Waterfront Loop section.

The Spot:


To me, whether you are from Oregon or elsewhere, Portland is a place you come and experience outside of your hotel room. There’s just too many cool places to check out to need a full array of “everything” in a hotel. That being said, there are still perks and amenities that make any hotel worthwhile – and KEX provides those.

Even from the outside, KEX is both hip and unassuming. It sits on the corner of MLK and Burnside – (literally just across the road from Knot Springs – a great running recovery/relaxation location) – within a two-story brick building that you may not even realize is available for overnight stays. The windowed bottom floor houses their local restaurant (more on that below) and gives off an aura of artsy and comfortable. Muted browns, blues, and golds envelop the soul and is super welcoming. It may be 2022, but I feel that KEX is a place that could be plucked out of the 1930’s and none would be the wiser.

While it is still an unassuming location, guests are able to relax in the lobby, annex, or even the secret courtyard. We scoped out a few of the lounges in the upper floors and it was a quiet and welcome reprieve from the vibrant busyness of the restaurant below and city life in general. Sometimes you just need to decompress with a book!

Note: KEX Portland does not offer parking, but there are a number of paid lots within walking distance to the hotel. We parked on the street a block away which was free from 8pm-8am.

Our Room:

Check in was a breeze as everything is contactless and staff are able to be reached via the guest messaging app if you need anything during your stay. We have stayed in a few locations with a process like this, and really enjoy the simplicity of it. It allows me to be in control of my needs (which is often minimal anyways) without burdening people along the way.

KEX offers a variety of room options – from King, Queen and 2 Queens all the way to a Family Room (4 beds) or Bunk Room (16!). We stayed in a Deluxe King which came with a seating parlor and a private bathroom.

Deluxe King

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Note: The Queen and 2 Queen rooms do not necessarily have private bathrooms, while all King rooms do. Some single Queen rooms do and others don’t, and all 2 Queen rooms have access to multiple shared, individual locking bathrooms, each with its own shower.

Similar to a pair of your favorite running shoes, the room provided a nice combo of comfort and relaxation. It was a sort of mish-mash of vintage and modern stylings – with furnishings that were both retro and new. There was also a mini fridge & freezer available to store a few cans of local beers. The size of the room was surprisingly generous for a downtown boutique hotel.


I don’t reside in Portland, but I always wish I lived a tad closer to the city – if only because there are food options abound. I am pretty sure we have been to every worthwhile restaurant in Salem dozens of times, but we know the Rose City offers an amazing location on seemingly every corner.

While I like to try to plan our stops when we travel, it is always nice when a hotel can provide a solid food and drink option without needing to leave the premises. We always encourage getting out and about when travelling, but there is something nice about just being able to keep it simple. And when “simple” is a place like Pacific Standard – you are doing fantastically well.

Outdoor courtyard will be amazing in the summer.

Pacific Standard offers a menu with a wealth of drink (cocktail, beer, and wine) options from local and distant locations. The menu is relatively small and straightforward, complete with about a dozen small plate options, and about a half dozen large plate and dessert considerations. We arrived late and were happy to find that it was open til midnight (open 3pm-midnight, with a 3-6p happy hour with $2 off menu items).) We just had a time for a nightcap drink before hitting the hay but the drinks were very tasty.

The Sunset Room is closed for the season (but will be open when summer returns) is a great spot to take in some views of the city. If we were to recommend a few walkable locations to fuel yourselves, we would be remiss to not mention Noble Rot for your wine needs – and Wayfinder for your beer desires.

Outside of refueling yourself with food and drink, KEX also (surprisingly) has a sauna on their property. It is available from 6a-11p and reservations can easily be made at the front desk.


We have ran and driven by KEX on numerous occasions over the years and we are glad we finally got to check it out in more detail.

For either a vacation or staycation, KEX is an amazing place to check out. It is in a prime location to check out everything Portland has to offer and nearby to some of the most consistent and classic running routes in town.

KEX Hotel

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More about KEX:

KEX first started in 2011, when a businessman and a set designer met at an abandoned biscuit factory in a strange corner of Reykjavík while scouting a location for an upcoming film. While the movie never got made, the vision for the set remained. As more friends, craftspeople and experts joined the team, KEX became what it is today: a design-focused space filled with salvaged materials and pieces from around the world, and a social hotel where people from anywhere can gather to eat great food, hear music, and be inspired. You don’t have to speak Icelandic to understand, all you have to do is step inside.

Many thanks to the KEX for allowing us to check out their property! Please read our transparency page for info on how we do our reviews.

About Author

Matt Rasmussen lives in Keizer, Ore. with his wife and three daughters. He enjoys watching hockey, going to as many breweries (618) and wineries (152) as he can, and all things Canada (he was born there). Matt was raised as a baseball player and officially transitioned over to running in 2010.

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