Destination Guide


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Photo by Zhifei Zhou

A great fire (1889), a frenzied gold rush (1897), a World’s Fair (1962) and the formation of an airplane company called Boeing and a computer company called Microsoft were all seminal events that shaped Seattle’s history and made it what it is today.


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Exterior View - Four Seasons Seattle, Seattle, Pacific Northwest - Courtesy Benjamin Benschneider

Four Seasons Seattle

Just a block away from Seattle’s Pike Place Market, the Four Seasons occupies the first ten floors of a 21-story residential tower overlooking Elliott Bay and the Olympic Mountains. The property features a sleek Northwest look, and staying here is like staying in a vertical resort. As you’d expect from a Four Seasons, the service is impeccable and the amenities plentiful, including an outdoor infinity pool that’s a one-of-a-kind luxury among downtown Seattle hotels.

The lobby is an imposing blend of marble and wood highlighted by contemporary art from the hotel’s collection of Northwest artists (throughout, the artwork is reproduced from originals in the Seattle Art Museum across the street).

The hotel’s 147 rooms and suites are unusually generous in size and comfort, with a quiet, cocooning quality that invites you to relax and linger. Floor-to-ceiling windows maximize the views. Book a Water View room and you’ll be gazing out over Elliott Bay towards the Olympic Mountains; the City View rooms provide a panorama of downtown Seattle. For extra oomph, book a corner suite with windows on two sides. The contemporary room furnishings are designed for style and comfort and enlivened by bold accents and colors. Finely crafted American ash wood detailing adds a warm, earthy glow. The gleaming, marble-clad bathrooms have soaker tubs and walk-in rain showers.

The state-of-the-art fitness center at the Four Seasons is one of the best in downtown Seattle, and the spa offers a full menu of skin-care treatments. But the hotel’s best feature is its open-air infinity pool with vistas of the bay and mountains. The warm water is inviting even if the day is wet and windy, and you might want to order a cocktail and sip it poolside before heading down to Goldfinch Tavern the hotel’s fine-dining restaurant, where chef Joe Ritchie sources local organic ingredients to create Northwest-inspired meals (like garlic crusted Alaskan halibut and wagyu eye of ribeye with watercress). This is a Four Seasons, so you can also dine in-suite, or order from room service 24 hours a day.

Lounge at Fairmont Olympic Hotel, Seattle, Pacific Northwest

Fairmont Olympic Hotel

Seattle’s oldest and grandest hotel opened in 1924 and is firmly embedded in the city’s memory bank. The Olympic is loaded with decades of tradition and is associated with a kind of old-fashioned elegance that really sets it apart from every other hotel in Seattle. Until fairly recently it was a Four Seasons, but now it’s a Fairmont property, evoking the same genteel grandeur as the legendary Fairmont Empress in Victoria, B.C.

The 12-story, 405-room Fairmont Olympic takes up an entire block in the city’s downtown business and retail core. It’s so large and complete, with its own shops, spa, café, fitness center and restaurant, that you never have to leave at all. But when you do, you can easily walk to many Seattle attractions, restaurants and shops

In terms of furnishings and décor, the Olympic is traditional all the way. It doesn’t play against its size and historic ambience but works with it. You won’t find any surprises in this bastion of tradition; what you will find is a high standard of personal service and a sense of professional “correctness” that’s missing from smaller, more casual hotels.

With its original chandeliers and beautiful oak walls, the lobby is a grand spot indeed. The lounge at one end is a nice spot to sip a cocktail, and The Georgian restaurant with its enormous Palladian windows remains a highly-rated Seattle dining destination. Penelope & the Beauty Bar, the hotel’s deluxe spa, offers manicures, pedicures, and a full range of facials, skin treatments and massages. And if you are looking for a downtown hotel with a pool and state-of-the-art fitness center, this is a good choice. The only other downtown hotel with its own pool is the Four Seasons.

The rooms and suites at the Fairmont Olympic are fairly spacious, but the décor, it must be said, is definitely dated. For some, this is a plus and in keeping with the age and overall style of the hotel, for others it will look old-fashioned and dowdy. The furniture is well-made and comfortable, the services are all up-to-date, and the host of amenities includes bathrobes, an in-room safe, and 24-hour room service. The unusually large bathrooms have marble floors and countertops and tub/shower combinations. Sliding doors in all the suites separate the bedroom from the sitting area, many of which have sofa beds, making them ideal for parents traveling with kids. Pet-friendly rooms are also available on certain floors.

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