Historic preservation meets modern hospitality design in The Society Hotel in the Columbia River Gorge, a new 20,000-square-foot lodging and recreation destination in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Following in the footsteps of the first Society Hotel, the boutique hotel is an adaptive reuse project with a minimalist aesthetic and one-of-a-kind amenities. Portland-based architectural firm Waechter Architecture led the design of the hotel, which includes a retrofitted former schoolhouse, 20 individual hotel cabins, a covered pathway, a spa and bathhouse building and a subterranean sanctuary.

sidewalks connecting wood cabins

Set near the riverfront, The Society Hotel Bingen is named after the adaptive reuse of the 80-year-old Bingen Schoolhouse, which anchors the 2.57-acre hotel campus. The renovated schoolhouse building is now home to 10 private, standard rooms and two 24-bed hostels as well as a library in the reception area, lockers in the hallway and a refurbished gym for guests. Portland-based design firm BLOSSOM led the interior and landscape design.

Related: These adaptive reuse hotel suites in Amsterdam are built inside old bridge houses

ring of wood cabins surrounding a wood sauna building
living area with sofa, long dining table, fire place and built-in bookshelves

On the school’s former playfields, the architects inserted 20 individual cabins that form a ring. At the center of the ring is a new spa and bathhouse building with a shared saltwater soaking pool, sauna, hot tub, cold plunge pool and a cafe. On the corner of the property, the architects have placed the Sanctuary, a unique, subterranean building specially built for events and retreats.

cafe with small dining sets
hotel reception area with dark walls and a wood desk

“One of our primary goals was to design a hotel that not only felt connected to the Gorge but amplified people’s experience of it,” Ben Waechter, firm principal, said. “It’s exciting to stand within the hotel and cabins today and feel the complementary dialogue between the two.” Strategically framed views emphasize that connection to the Gorge as does the material palette, which includes premature aged cedar cladding on the exterior and 8-inch tongue and groove knotty pine for the cabin interior headboard walls.

+ Waechter Architecture

Photography by Lara Swimmer via Waechter Architecture

aerial view of hotel and cabins in Columbia River Gorge area