Caravan - The Tiny House Hotel review, Portland, Oregon

Read our writer's views on this property below

The place

Located in the hip suburb of Northeastern street of Alberta, otherwise known as the Alberta Arts District, Caravan is surrounded by excellent restaurants, cafes, bars and shops, as well as inspiring galleries and colourful street art.

The space

Caravan is pioneering accommodation consisting of seven small ''caravans'' or tiny houses built from salvaged materials by different local builders. The owners are at the forefront of the tiny house movement in Portland, and I feel privileged to be able to try them out while on a three-day trip.

You will see similar operations at other locations in the US, but Caravan was the first. You can also hire Teardrop Trailers – the world's smallest, cutest caravans in the world, each with their own name and design – for taking roadtrips through Oregon.

The caravans are dotted around a fireplace alongside shelves well-stocked with ingredients for s'mores, creating an inviting space for chatter with other guests, who on this particular trip happen to be local Portlandiers spending a night closer in to the city.

This is also the same hotel that featured in the television series Portlandia – and just as they say in the show: ''Move in – it will only take you five minutes!'' 

The room

Every caravan is unique. However, I'm in Skyline, which is two storeys and 142 square feet and made entirely of repurposed metal and wood. Its tiny space manages to pack in a lot of features, which include a kitchen, and on its ''upper level'' a cosy, lamp-lit space with a lounge draped with throws and cushions which converts into ''sleeping loft'' with a queen size bed. Underneath is the ''bedroom'', a ridiculously cosy, comfortable and cavernous space, which has loads of power outlets and fairy lights for extra ambience.

The centre of the caravan has bar stools and benches for relaxing; underneath you can stow away your luggage. The opposite corner is a bathroom – toilet, shower and vanity, plus space to hang your clothes, with a built-in step ladder to access those hard to reach places.

It's cool when I arrive in Portland, but Skyline is amply heated, there's also spare blankets, and fluffy towels. There's an abundance of reading materials for travellers with restaurant recommendations and maps.

Stepping out

You're in the heart of the Arts District in Portland, and during the last Thursday of each month there's a festival that runs along the street, starting from Caravan. Three cool bars are at its doorstep, and a stroll down Alberta could keep you busy all day with an abundance of cool coffee shops, restaurants, galleries, and shopping. Your hosts can recommend the latest cool places to eat and drink, but Hat Yai for its southern Thai comfort food along Killingsworth is a good option, and Barista and Case Study for coffee are also recommended. Top notch Melbourne cafe Proud Mary  is set to open over the next month. For dinner at night you could venture into high-end Asian fusion restaurant Aviary, or Portland's favourite Japanese spot Bamboo Sushi, then finish up with cult ice-cream joint Salt and Straw and end the night next door at Bye and Bye for top-notch cocktails and friendly service.

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Portland's not a huge city and biking is easy with specially designed bikeways and maps designated for cyclists. Close to Caravan is Everybody's Bike Rentals, who also have excellent taste and refreshingly honest travel tips, which they'll issue you in person or via their website.

The food

Your tiny house is equipped with a tiny kitchen; a portable hotplate and a microwave, and a small fridge as well as a sink. Caravan roast their own coffee, which you can brew in a stovetop coffee maker, there's also tea and oats for oatmeal. You can build yourself an artisan s'more from the organic fairtrade chocolate, milk or dark, marshmallows and graham crackers around the fire outside, and you can also order room service from Radio Room across the road which is open until 2am. Or you could get grilled cheese from the truck that shares a block with Caravan and eat from their schoolbus ''restaurant''. With so many restaurants within walking distance, I don't use the kitchen but it's handy for an early morning brew.

Highlights

It's the most unique hotel experiences – certainly the most cosy – and it will have you wondering whether you could do it full-time, like the owners do.

Lowlights

Being clumsy and a little disorganised (read, messy) I'm not sure I could sustain this for a long-term period. I'd be in danger of falling over my own feet and accidentally, brutally stabbing myself with my tweezers.

Verdict

How many hotel rooms left you with a lasting memory? None like Caravan will. The Tiny House Hotel should be an integral part of any visit to Portland, encapsulating much of the city's ecological, artistic initiatives within its four tiny walls.

Tiny houses start from $US155 per night. Contact 503 288 5225, info@tinyhousehotel.com; tinyhousehotel.com

5009 NE 11th Ave, Portland, Oregon, 97211

​The writer stayed as a guest of Travel Portland