It’s something of a thrill these days to stay at a hotel and eat in a restaurant, even more so when my twin teen daughters want to join. While I wasn’t sure if a Maine staycation would capture their interest, they agreed to give the new Canopy by Hilton in Portland a chance. Certainly, the fact that guests get priority seating at Luna, the hotel’s popular new harborview, rooftop restaurant, helped seal the deal.
With its classic brick buildings and cobble streets, active waterfront and celebrated restaurants, Portland’s Commercial Street has seen a boom in hotel construction of late, culminating with the Canopy this July. Having visited the first Canopy, opened in Reykjavik, Iceland, in 2016, I was curious to see how the latest edition of Hilton’s boutique lifestyle brand, the first in New England, would interpret the local experience and culture of my own backyard.
We were happily delighted. My daughters and a friend arrived on a ferry from visiting a nearby island and walked from the dock to the hotel where I was in a work meeting on Zoom. The room design elicited a “wow!” from the teens for the blonde wood floors; signature Canopy beds with local Cuddledown bedding and Evangeline spreads; and sliding barn doors lending privacy to the sizable washroom. While I finished up my workday, the teens made use of the Peloton bikes and weights in the 24-hour workout room down the hall. We then dressed early for dinner and set out to explore the hotel decor orchestrated by Ealain Studios, a Portland-based interior design firm.
The first floor of the 135-room hotel boasts a well-appointed reception lobby with a lovely moss-lined installation that was created by Plantwerks and Matt Hutton, a local design artist and professor at the Maine College of Art. Add to that, there’s 3,000 square feet of event space, a glass-walled library with large conference table and the Salt Yard Cafe + Bar, currently serving breakfast and lunch and eventually dinner, with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out on bustling Commercial Street.
Works by Portland artists curated by Erin Hutton Projects include nautical photography by Nicole Wolf in the lobby, custom prints of Jenny McGee Dougherty in conference rooms and a striking ash wood wall installation in the Salt Yard by Karina Steele. Bookshelves are filled with Maine authors, and staff uniforms feature items by L.L.Bean and iconic AngelRox/Sugar clothing designer Roxi Sugar, who has a retail space next door in the historical E. Swasey Pottery building.
Our status as hotel guests assured us a table for dinner at the Luna Rooftop Bar, even though it’s seen long waits for locals and tourists alike since opening. The chic indoor and outdoor spaces feature views of the Portland waterfront; cozy tables and sofas; a menu of small plates, including raw bar items; and cocktails with astronomically themed names like Andromeda and Persephone. The teens gave the creative takes on corn dogs and cheese dip a big thumbs up, and I thoroughly enjoyed a selection of local Maine oysters and a unique peanut butter hummus for dessert. After that, we ventured out to explore the Portland evening on complimentary orange cruiser bikes parked at the hotel entrance.
In the morning, we breakfasted at Salt Yard Cafe + Bar on a selection of homemade pastries and croissants, fruit bowls and a delicious roasted sweet potato and vegetable hash plus full coffee bar. We would have stayed for lunch, too, but couldn’t resist sampling Portland’s cornucopia of eateries, including Mami for Japanese street food and ice cream from Gelato Fiasco. Besides, we all agreed we want to return to enjoy Salt Yard and Luna as locals again very soon.
Nightly rates at the Canopy by Hilton start at $399, including Hilton Honors benefits and discounts. See canopybyhilton.com for details.
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