Have you ever walked into a place, whether a restaurant, a store or a hotel and immediately felt right at home? Have you found that a style of business was so in line with your personality that the last thing you wanted to think about was leaving? That’s exactly what I found during my recent stay at The Society Hotel in Bingen, Washington. Impeccable design, thoughtful details, and a team of staff members who are truly on-site to help you have an awesome experience in the Gorge.
The Society Hotel is located in Bingen, nestled right above the Columbia River. Across from Hood River, Oregon, this area is bustling with outdoor enthusiasts, whether they’re heading out for kiteboarding, windsurfing, hiking or paddling. And this Columbia River Gorge hotel provides the perfect home base for any of those activities.
Preserving The Bingen School History
Built on the site of the 80-year-old Bingen School, every space is jam-packed with character. After renovations began in fall of 2017, the property opened its doors in May 2019 to a variety of travelers.
But the owners and architects that worked to bring The Society Hotel to life in Bingen certainly weren’t ones to tear apart the historic charm of this local icon. The school, built in 1937, operated as the school for kids in Bingen and nearby White Salmon between the late 1930s and 1970s. And elements of that 40-year-history still remain as you wander through the halls today.
Keeping History Intact
In the lobby, some of the windows remain intact from the original structure, while original classroom chairs are incorporated into the seating area amongst the most stunning library, offering the perfect spot to sit for a cocktail or a latte from the lobby cafe.
The area that was once a row of classrooms was broken up into the standard hotel rooms, each named after school subjects and designed accordingly, with the original hallway lockers lining the hall. Original elements of blackboards were repurposed throughout the design to bring history to life, and the gym remained pretty well untouched, still offering a great spot to play a game of shuffleboard or shoot a few hoops.
Lodging for Hikers and Families
The Society Hotel provides lodging options for thru-hikers in the Columbia River Gorge area, whether backpacking through the Gorge, or even tackling the Pacific Crest Trail. Although these hostel-style accommodations are not available in the midst of COVID, the bunkhouses and common spaces are known to be a bustling space of inspiration for Pacific Northwest adventurers.
In addition to bunkhouses, private standard rooms are available with cozy and clean accommodations in the main building, with king or queen bed options.
The Society Hotel Property
Exploring the property, a traveler will be in awe of the many lodging options. But what we found most impressive were the 20 cabins on-site, intentionally arranged as the outskirts of the campus, creating a center space to provide a private retreat. In the middle of that retreat sits multiple fireplaces to enjoy for the evening, or with your morning cup of joe, along with the stunning bathhouse, featuring a cold, warm, and hot pool and massive sauna.
Each cabin is equipped for any type of travel situation, whether a family on a summer trip is booking for the night or a couple is looking forward to a relaxing weekend getaway. With a picnic table outside each cabin and a cozy hammock, along with cooking utensils and a hot plate to prep your own meal on-site, The Society Hotel has truly provided everything you could need for any type of stay.
A Relaxing Space
What we found most inspiring during our stay was the way co-owner Matt Siegel told the story of how the hammocks ended up on the property. Hanging up in between each cabin, offer the ideal relaxing view, the hammocks were such a nice touch, inspired by Siegel’s son, who had made the original suggestion. And considering how much we enjoyed our time relaxing and reading a book in the hammock, we certainly appreciate Siegel taking his son’s suggestion on that detail. Don’t you think all hotels should have hammocks?
All of this and more were reasons for loving our stay with The Society Hotel. Locally owned hotels have real small business owners behind them, incredibly accommodating staff, and truly no detail left untouched.
If you’re on the hunt for any type of accommodation in the Columbia River Gorge area, this is definitely the location to book for historical charm and modern amenities all rolled up into one super Instagram-worthy package.
Photography: Petar Marshall