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I recently had the opportunity to stay at The Hotel Francis in Portland, Maine on a trip with my son. This is my review of our stay, so you can find out a bit more about this cool Portland hotel in detail.
Please note: We were hosted as guests of The Francis. All opinions are my own.
Hotel Francis: At a Glance
I was incredibly excited to stay at The Francis, based on photos I had seen and reviews I’d read. So when an opportunity came to stay for a few days with my toddler son Malcolm, I jumped on it!
The Francis is located in the West End of Portland. Today it is a boutique hotel with 15 unique guestrooms, but once upon a time, it was a Victorian mansion.
Built in 1881, the mansion was designed for Mellen E. Bolster and his family. It was designed by architect Francis Fassett (for whom the hotel was named). Not only did Francis Fassett design the Bolster’s grand home, he was a leading Portland architect responsible for many local landmarks. He was known to be especially influential in creating the look and feel of the West End and Parkside neighborhoods. How cool to stay in a piece of Portland history!
Now lovingly restored to highlight its original glory, the Francis is a hotel welcoming guests for a comfortable and relaxed stay.
Our Stay at The Francis
My son and I had a fantastic stay at the Francis. Every member of staff we encountered was truly friendly and helpful, and this made a big difference to me, especially when traveling solo with a toddler (which I do not recommend, by the way!) There was always someone there to grab the door or bring in one of my many items. This was incredibly helpful and comforting.
They also made me and my son feel very welcome! Sometimes children and boutique hotels do not belong in the same sentence, but I felt absolutely welcomed at The Francis. (I should also add, I do have an exceptionally well behaved toddler)
We stayed in the Terrace Suite, a convenient location right by the main entrance hall. This was great for avoiding any extra steps with my toddler in tow. (But the hotel does have an elevator to all floors and I was able to get in on the ground floor when walking with my stroller, so having that accessibility available was great).
I loved our room, and I think Malcolm did too. He enjoyed practicing his new walking skills on the shiny wood floors!
With a suite, we had a separate room (divided by a thick curtain) with a table and chairs, the coffee and refrigerator, and the door to the bathroom. I appreciated this separation as it gave me a spot to sit after Malcolm went to sleep where I could keep lights on without waking him. As a bonus, the window curtains and shades were all very effective for his afternoon nap! Have to appreciate a dark room as a parent!
The king bed was epically comfortable, and I particularly admired the vintage-style light bulbs set next to the bed. They turned on and off with a switch that was reminiscent of putting out a gaslight (at least, that’s what I imagine in my Victorian dreams!)
The rest of the hotel is gorgeously decorated; it feels simple and understated yet luxurious. We didn’t roam beyond the lobby, sitting room, and the cool little library area, but these all have special touches and some real Portland vibes.
Other Things to Note
The hotel is well known for its spa, but unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take advantage of that amenity on this trip. (Next time!) But for those visiting Portland who want a bit of relaxation, an onsite spa is such a great feature. If it were me, I’d get the Body Butter Foot Massage, which says it is perfect “after a day spent walking on the cobblestones” of Portland!
I would recommend the Francis to guests in search of a relaxing stay, not only because of the spa, but because of the location. Set in the West End, the Francis is a bit away from the hustle and bustle of the downtown tourist areas. If you prefer this, you’ll love the Francis. We went for a quiet stroll in the neighboring streets and admired the stately historic homes in every direction. And walking to downtown/the Old Port is very easy and takes about 15-20 minutes. Perhaps less if you’re not pushing a stroller!
There are plenty of restaurant options nearby, too, so you don’t have to go far. You can dine at the Wayside Tavern, right next door to the Francis. Head across the street to Tandem Bakery for coffee and pastries, or just down the block to southern-style eatery Hot Suppa. (Side note: Malcolm and I had a phenomenal breakfast at Hot Suppa. I am still bragging to my husband about the incredible maple latte, crispy hashbrowns, and biscuits and gravy. Truly one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had!)
If you forget any of my recommendations, don’t worry! There are helpful information cards in your room which you’ll find upon arrival recommending restaurants and things to do. The staff made sure to include the “family-friendly” cards in our room, which was a really nice thing.
So, if you’re not sure where to stay in Portland, Maine, I hope this review can help you out! The Francis was a lovely and comfortable stay in one of Maine’s coolest cities. If you go, tell them New England With Love sent you!
And before you go, here are a few more photos of the beautiful Francis for you to admire!
More resources for planning your Portland Maine adventure: