written by Kerry Newberry
photography by Cannery Pier Hotel & Spa
In a town steeped in maritime history, few places capture the soul of Astoria like the Cannery Pier Hotel & Spa. When the luxury hotel first opened in 2005, it became an instant icon. Built on century-old pier pilings extending 600 feet into the Columbia River, the space was designed to recreate the feeling of the canneries of bygone days with smokestacks, exposed steel beams and wooden trusses.
The electric red building is luminous even on oyster gray days. Set on the former site of the Union Fisherman’s Cooperative Packing Company, the hotel pays homage to the town’s past and present in creative ways. When you check in, your welcome envelope includes the daily schedule of inbound and outbound container ships provided by Columbia River Bar Pilots.
You can study the massive carriers that take on a mythic glow at night as they plow through the Columbia River’s windswept waves using binoculars provided in each room. And get a sense of place from the Hall of History, a mixed media exhibit that shares pivotal moments in Astoria’s timeline from the fishing industry to canneries.
To be this close to the water is a dream and from the lobby to the room to tucked away corners, you’ll find a wall of windows magnifying the vivid river-scape that shifts with each sunbreak and cloudburst and unexpected coastal storm. The beauty of Astoria lies in this unpredictably—in the ever-changing river that’s shaped the town—and this is the perfect spot to soak it all in.
10 BASIN ST
Phase one of a multimillion-dollar upgrade just brought complete renovations to each of the hotel’s forty-six luxe guest rooms with thoughtful amenities, modern fixtures and contemporary design. Abundant windows and a private balcony provide extraordinary views of the Columbia River and the elegant Astoria-Megler Bridge. The best river views—and certainly the most memorable—are from the cozy window seat and decadent soaking tub.
Enjoy contemporary art by renowned Astoria artist Duncan Berry throughout the property, including many pieces in his chosen medium of Gyotaku (fish rubbing)—a Japanese technique originating in the eighteenth century. (See more of Berry’s work on pg. 76.) Head to the second floor Hall of History to discover Astoria’s rich heritage as the former salmon canneries capital of the world through stories, photos and videos from Clatsop County Historical Society. Most recently, the hotel partnered with Astoria Visual Arts, bringing the “Icons of Astoria” exhibit to life.
For a small town, Astoria is packed with great dining options from exceptional craft breweries (Buoy Beer Co. and Fort George, to name a few) to Bowpicker Fish and Chips, where beer-battered Albacore tuna is served from a converted gillnet boat. Find scratch-made pastries and bread at Blue Scorcher Bakery and buzzy espresso drinks at Street 14 Cafe. Newer hotspots include South Bay Wild, a family-owned commercial fishing company and restaurant and Būsu Astoria, an ode to Japanese-inspired dishes and Pacific Northwest ingredients.
Seize sunny days with complimentary cruiser bicycles ideal for coasting the 6.4-mile Astoria Riverwalk. For dinner destinations, the luxury hotel has another set of wheels, a vintage Rolls-Royce car service, available on weekend evenings. A nightly reception hour pays homage to the region’s Scandinavian heritage with local wines and lox and rye bread from the nearby Josephson’s Smokehouse. Fresh-baked cookies cap off the evening. For state-of-the-art cardio (including a Peloton), visit the second floor fitness center. Other blissful perks include a mineral hot tub with river views, a traditional Finnish sauna and an onsite spa.