Skip to main content

Iceland’s Upscale Hostel KEX to Bring Michelin-Star Swagger to Portland, Oregon

If the word “hostel” brings to mind prison-style rooms with a dozen bunk beds dimly lit beneath a single bare bulb and concrete floors echoing the sounds of strangers in various states of undress, it’s probably been a while since you took a proper backpacking trip. Sure, such hellish accommodations still exist, catering mostly to broke budget travelers. However, the latest generation of hostels has gone, dare we say, upscale. To that end, Iceland is exporting its wildly popular Hostel KEX to Portland, Oregon. If the brand’s first U.S. outpost looks anything like their Reykjavik flagship, the new location has the potential to be one of the world’s swankiest hostels.

The original KEX opened in a former Reykjavik biscuit factory (kex is Icelandic for “biscuit”) in 2008. Most visitors would call it a “hostel,” although the owners prefer “social hotel.” According to the brand’s marketing, the goal was to bring “the best elements of a boutique hotel together with the energy of a hostel, acting as a community gathering place, creative hub, and destination for travelers from all over the world.”

The new hostel will be situated in Portland’s century-old Vivian Apartments building in the city’s Eastside Industrial district. The proposed design feels perfectly plucked from the Golden Era of travel. The rich wood furnishings, classic finishes like burnished metal and leather, and large, well-worn Middle Eastern-inspired area rugs are all surrounded by a muted, earth-tone color palette and distinctly angular architecture. It’ll be a warm decor designed to envelop guests in the same way as Europe’s coziest cafes. Rooms will feature the standard mix of hostel bedding: dorm rooms and communal bunks. Common amenities will include guest laundry, a public kitchen, a live music stage, and even a sauna (because Iceland).

However, the most exciting thing about KEX Portland has nothing to do with the hotel side of things. Most notable instead will be the ground-floor restaurant helmed by Ólafur Ágústsson. The famed Icelandic chef works the food & beverage scene at the original KEX Reykjavik location and also runs the kitchen at Dill, Iceland’s first-ever Michelin-starred restaurant. The New Nordic menu features clever and unusual food combinations like dung-smoked trout with butter and cabbage. The Portland menu has yet to be announced, but visitors can expect the same level of creative, world-class cuisine.

KEX Portland won’t open until late 2019, so final details for both the hotel and restaurant have yet to be ironed out. But, we’re pretty stoked to celebrate with a glass of Brennivín when it does.

Editors' Recommendations

Mike Richard
Mike Richard has traveled the world since 2008. He's kayaked in Antarctica, tracked endangered African wild dogs in South…
These are the 5 best things to do in San Pedro, Belize (and the mainland)
Here is the best of the best to do on your Belize vacation
Belize sea view

On the Eastern Seaboard of the Caribbean Sea is a cluster of islands that everyone seems to head for when they say they are going to the Caribbean. Of course, there are dozens of islands and activities to do on each one that can give you the time of your life. However, on the western side of the sea, tucked between the Yucatan Peninsula and Honduras, lies one of the most underrated gems in the region — Belize.

As somewhat of an orphan in the area, Belize is considered a Caribbean country due to its English-speaking population, similar to the islands on the opposite side of the water. Blessed with the warm waters of the Caribbean to the east and the dense jungle to the west, it's rich with adventurous experiences you can't get in many places so close together.

Read more
New Delta Skymiles changes have members fuming mad, and now Delta Air Lines risks losing faithful customers
Delta Airlines might have screwed up in a big way this time
delta skymiles changes sven piper osazgds9aag unsplash

Delta Air Lines recently introduced significant changes to its SkyMiles program, aiming to simplify the process of earning rewards. While the airline's intention might have been to streamline the experience, these changes have left many customers deeply upset and dissatisfied. Not only do these alterations make it increasingly challenging for loyal passengers to enjoy coveted perks like access to the SkyLounge, but they also demand an exorbitant amount of spending to achieve and maintain status within the program.
The changes to Delta SkyMiles
Delta Air Lines, as one of the last big three U.S. airlines to make such a transition, has now definitively shifted toward a spending-based system for status qualification. On the surface, this might seem like a logical evolution for frequent flyer programs, but a deeper dive reveals the concerns that have customers up in arms.

To attain status in the new program, travelers must open their wallets wider than ever before. Delta's official website announces everything you need to know.

Read more
This Chrome extension can find you cheap flights that Google Flights can’t
Need to book a flight? Try this Chrome plugin instead of Google Flights
airplane taking off on a runway at sunset

It's no secret that Google Flights is great — it shows you flight options from across the web for your chosen itinerary, allows you to adjust dates and specs to fit your needs, and is just an all-around great tool for travelers. But it doesn't always find the cheapest flights. Even if it does pull up the most affordable flight available, that particular flight might not necessarily be the best option for you. But Travel Arrow is here to change that.

Like most awesome things on the internet, Travel Arrow is making waves on TikTok. The tool can help you find the best cheap flight for your needs, and based on the comments section, people are stoked to see another travel hack to help make saving money on flights even better. No more keeping 15 browser tabs open to bounce back and forth and calculate which flight route will get you the most bang for your buck. Now, a simple Chrome extension can do all the work for you. 

Read more