The top perk to being a blog writer for The Independence Hotel is the ability to stay there every chance an opportunity arises. So when my good friend Kelsey turned 30, I knew immediately where I wanted to take her to celebrate. Not only The Independence Hotel (like that isn’t cool enough?!?) but something even grander… something that screams adventure and laughter and friends and silliness… that’s right, people… a 30th birthday surprise means a SQUAD ROOM. So when I booked the room and explained my reasoning for doing so, I was asked to write down some of my thoughts and experiences of the trip. So huzzah! May I present to you an epic birthday adventure weekend at The Independence Hotel, AKA, a possible itinerary for you to try with your friends sometime!

With the on-site restaurant Territory, The Independence is a great location for group weekends.

And when the Squad Room or restaurant are not enough, take your party up to the rooftop terrace!

The first things you have to decide when planning a surprise birthday party is… 1) Who is the party for? 2) What do they like? 3) What does this new age/new trip around the sun mean? For me the answers were as follows… 1) My friend Kelsey who is silly and fun and down for adventure, 2) Experiences over things. And 3) Thirty, which, (to me) means lots of fun, but we’re also getting older and probably want to go to bed at a reasonable hour (don’t judge!).

So this is how the weekend played out…

Saturday, October 1st: Time for a treasure hunt!

Kelsey woke up with no knowledge of what the day would bring. All she knew was that she wasn’t supposed to make plans for the weekend. First, she received a card from her boyfriend that led her to her favorite childhood coffee shop. There she found her sister, who was waiting with a second card. This process continued as Kelsey travelled around Portland, with each new card leading her to a different spot she frequents, and a different friend waiting excitedly to join the party. The final card told her that a birthday slumber party was about to take place, and can you guess where?

That’s right! The Squad Room at The Independence Hotel!

The expansive 850 sq ft Squad Suite!

Here are my top 15 reasons for choosing the Squad Room for a birthday slumber party:

  1. There are six bunks where everyone can spend the evening together.
  2. The giant television allows you to watch movies, or in our case, old dance videos (we all dance in a company together).
  3. Epic mirrors allow for a fun facemask montage where you cleanse your skin and sing along to the To Wong Foo soundtrack.
  4. The wine refrigerator keeps your champagne ready for a birthday cheers at any moment.
  5. The room is on the same floor as the hot tub, which we frequented more than once thanks to our private reservations.
  6. There are two incredible showers (seriously, best water pressure ever) so no one has to wait too long to rinse off after the hot hub.
  7. With tall and beautiful ceilings the room feels even more spacious and therefore perfect for a dance party.
  8. Air conditioning allows you to keep the room cool during said dance parties, and the outdoor patio brings in a fresh, crisp breeze if you prefer natural air. 
  9. Dinner becomes easy as pie with the hotel’s restaurant, Territory, a 30-second walk away. I highly recommend the salmon, wedge salad, and their staple appetizer: The Territory Sprouts (vegetarian option available).
  10. Each bunk has its own outlet and nightlight so we thirty-something-year-olds can go to sleep when we individually want to, without keeping others awake.
  11. There are multiple books and games to play in the room for when the dance party starts to wind down.
  12. The Squad Room’s placement on the first floor is a small jump away from an ice machine, and allows you to head to and from the front desk with ease if there’s anything you’re looking for.
  13. The room is somehow adorable and sophisticated at the same time. Making you feel young and playful, without feeling like you’re going to wake up with a soar back  (these beds are seriously comfortable).
  14. You are only one elevator ride away from drinking your champagne on the rooftop, watching the unparalleled views of the river and the stars shining above you.
  15. Overall, it’s a really fun way to spend the evening with your friends while never allowing the night to feel overwhelming or stressful.

***While I couldn’t get some delivered in time for this particular event, extra points in my book if you and your friends get matching onesie pajamas.

There’s room for everyone, and everthing in the vanity area.

The delectable Territor Sprouts.

Sunday, October 3rd:

Sunday morning we ordered breakfast from Territory (PS, it’s included with your room and I highly recommend the veggie breakfast burrito). We cracked open our second bottle of bubbly and added orange juice to create mimosas like any brunchers of dignity would. After breakfast (and a second trip to the hot tub) we “somehow” found one more card with Kelsey’s final clue. This clue would lead her to the ultimate surprise of the trip, an epic dive from a plane at 14,000 ft. We were off to SkyDive Oregon, less than an hour from the hotel!

In addition to the breakfast burritos, The Independence now offers a variety of morning meal options from Territory.

Start the day off right with a bit of vitamin C (bubbles optional but highly recommended)!

Now, I will note that Kelsey had always wanted to go skydiving. I would NOT recommend surprising your friend with a skydiving trip if they have not expressed interest, as not everyone shares my group of friends’ crazy notion that it’s super fun. But if they’re game, I cannot recommend Skydive Oregon enough. If you go on a clear day (all jumps are weather permitting) you can see the most spectacular view of the state, including the full Cascade mountain range from Mt. Hood to the Three Sisters.  Each guide allows you to choose how much to participate (whether or not you want to try steering or do spins, vs. do absolutely nothing and take in the sights). Spoiler alert! There is no wrong choice. If you’re celebrating something specific, or if you just want an out of body experience to remember just how spectacular Oregon really is, I rate Skydive Oregon a solid 10 out of 10. I mean, one might say there’s only one major downfall… (Huh? Get it?? Get it?????? Sorry… I had to.)


Kelsey…her expression says it all!

After skydiving, we had one more celebration dinner with pasta and ice-cold beer on tap before sadly having to return to reality. So if you’re trying out this itinerary for yourself, I’d recommend one extra night in the Squad Room. One thing’s for sure though, Kelsey’s 30th will be one for the books, and I want to give a huge shout out to The Independence Hotel for helping to make it so special.