Maine has had a special place in my heart ever since we moved to the United States. In high school, I went to Maine for summer camp. More than that though, Maine reminds me of my home and native land. There are many Canadians in Maine, whether their families emigrated years ago or they are just visiting. Most of all though, the flora and fauna remind me of Canada.
You don’t notice it too much in the city but there is an underlying energy in Portland that I like to think is a bit of Canadian-ness. When we first checked into The Francis, as guests of the hotel for the night, there was a calm and coziness, a genuine friendliness, and a sense of time being slowed. Right away, I felt at home.
You pull up to The Francis under a port cochère (aka a wall-less little house that you drive into) which is perfect for a hot summer’s day, a rainy New England afternoon or a snowy day. Check-in is just up the stairs. As soon as you step into the historic West End building, it feels inviting and quiet, but not so quiet that you don’t feel comfortable traveling with the family. It feels quiet because this rather large building has only 15 rooms. That is a luxury for visitors. Whereas many hotels are maximizing every inch of their space, The Francis is part of the National Park Service’s Registry of Historic Places so preservation is the driving force behind the design more so than pure profit, which is a rare treat.
After checking in, we went to bring our bags into our room and took a quick tour of our space. Our room had a wide empty entryway that is perfect for stashing luggage, rolling out a yoga mat for some stretching, or setting up a board game for the kids to play. Around the corner were two double beds with plenty of space on either side. A large screen tv and a couple of dressers and an armoire for hanging clothes were across from the beds. The mini bar was filled with local treats and drinks with or without alcohol as desired. Across from my bed, by the windows, I found me perfect spot for research. I always like to do a little extra research about what to eat, what to see and what to do once I check into my room. Speaking of what to do, there was a little note about spa services and I just had to find out more.
The Spa had a body treatment called the Hot Toddy and I was determined to find out more and make an appointment if I could on short notice. Luckily, the spa had availability so I scheduled a body treatment and massage since I had a little extra free time in my schedule while my friend was at a conference. I am so glad I took the time. I was in much need of a massage with all the running around and extra driving I have been doing lately (for one reason or another) my body was not happy with how I have been treating it. At home I had no time to schedule a massage, so I decided I was worth it (we don’t decide this often enough) and I spent a little extra time and money on myself and I am so glad I did it here.
Locals and New Englanders have known for a while, but now thanks to Bon Appétit the whole world knows that Portland is a food lovers’ paradise. There are two great advantages when it comes to food if you stay at The Francis. There is great food a stone’s throw from the hotel with Tandem Coffee across the street, Hot Suppa down the road, Roma, Yordprom Coffee Co. and Figgy’s Takeout. The Francis will also have pop up events in their restaurant and bar space throughout the year. The second is, when you park at The Francis, you have easy access to your car and can come and go as you please, which is not the case for many hotels in town. If you are carless, everything is fairly close so you can walk or take a quick car service anywhere you’d like to go.
Whether you stay at The Francis or not, I recommend a meal at Bolster and Snow. Find out more about the restaurant here.
I am already planning a return trip to Portland with the family and we will definitely be making a reservation at The Francis and Bolster and Snow and we’ll save room for pie for breakfast across the street at Tandem.