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Whenever I’m in this big, cheerful hotel, I can never quite forget that it was once the Frederick & Nelson department store. It’s been the Hotel Monaco since 1996, when it became the first new hotel in downtown Portland to be fashioned from an existing historic building. Stylistically it’s hard to pin down, except that it’s as far from minimalist as you can get. The big lobby lounge, with its red walls, tufted fainting couches, and high white arches, has a kind of pleasantly flamboyant Regency-Victorian style, and is a fun and lively spot to enjoy the hotel’s complimentary wine and cocktail hour with piano accompaniment. Most of the guestrooms are generously sized suites, with sliding doors to separate bedrooms and living areas. The room decor is more “country” than the public spaces, but what country and era, it’s impossible to say. Patterns, textures, colors, and furniture styles are layered together in a busy kaleidoscope that keeps your eyes forever hopping. The bathrooms are more soothing, with marble countertops, wallpaper printed with images of Portland’s architecture, and tubs big enough for soaking. The service is exemplary. My only complaints? If you’re a business traveler, there is no desk—you have to use a table. But, of course, you’re here to play, not to work, right? Red Star is a good spot for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. If you just want morning coffee, that’s provided in the lobby. The Monaco is only a block from Pioneer Courthouse Square, in the heart of the downtown shopping area, and within easy walking distance of Powell’s Books and the Pearl District.