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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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.

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Suite at  Hotel Āndra, Seattle, Pacific Northwest

Hotel Andra

When it comes to stylishly unique hotel design, Hotel Āndra wins hands-down. Nearly everything in this 119-room luxury boutique hotel--furniture, fabrics, even bathroom fixtures--comes from Sweden or Scandinavia and reflects a sophisticated and richly textured European aesthetic geared to comfort and casual elegance.

The word ändra in Swedish means “change,” and change is what Hotel Andra is about. The building dates from 1926 but the owner completely renovated the interior so that when it opened in 2003 it had a brand-new look and life. The neighborhood where it’s located, adjacent to Belltown, is also undergoing change as Amazon and other big corporations move into the nearby South Lake Union area. The Āndra’s central location makes it easy to walk to all of Seattle’s downtown and waterfront attractions, shopping and restaurants.

The Scandinavian design elements—an homage to Seattle’s Nordic heritage—are apparent in the lobby with its distressed plank floors, thick wool carpets, stone-mantled fireplace, and richly colored accent walls. Upstairs, on the mezzanine, there is a small, elegant bar.

The three basic room types at the Āndra are Andra Rooms (about 250 square feet), Andra Superia Rooms (about 400 square feet), and Lux Suites (about 550 square feet). The rooms have a warm, rich look augmented by soft alpaca headboards, crisp white linens with striped chenille coverlets, patterned drapery and modern minimalist wood furniture. All the rooms have walk-in closets and vanity areas; the larger Lux Suites feature sliding French doors separating the sitting area from the bedroom.

The bathrooms in all of these categories are the same size and layout. Small but well-designed, they feature green tiled showers with glass half-walls, sloping white Lacava sinks, grey slate flooring, lighted mirrors, fluffy Turkish towels and FACE Stockholm bath products.

The hotel’s fitness center is small and basic, as is the business center.

Within a one-block area, foodies can dine at five of Seattle super chef Tom Douglas’s restaurants.

Suite at Pan Pacific Hotel, Seattle, Pacific Northwest

Pan Pacific Hotel Seattle

Restrained luxury is the hallmark of Pan Pacific Hotel Seattle. Located in the South Lake Union area and within walking distance of downtown, the Pan Pacific is ideal for visitors who want to be close to the city’s downtown attractions and also explore Seattle’s newest neighborhood, created over the last decade by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. This luxury boutique hotel with 206 rooms and luxury condominiums on the top floors is the only Pan Pacific property in the U.S.

The lobby, aglow with big windows, travertine floors and tigerwood accents on the walls, sets the hotel’s overall tone of minimalist Northwest and Japanese fusion style. A long, low fireplace anchors one wall. Beyond it is the hotel lounge, an intimate spot with a small outdoor patio, and an entrance to Seastar, celebrity chef John Howie’s seafood and steak restaurant. The hotel’s stellar collection of Northwest art is considered one of the best in the state.

You’ll find the same cool, uncluttered elegance and attention to detail in the rooms and suites. Light-colored stone tile, carpets and fabric wall coverings serve as calm backdrops for the few well-chosen and well-designed pieces of contemporary furniture. (One thing to note is that none of the rooms have twin beds.) The wood-and-stone bathrooms in every room and suite have both a walk-in shower and a deep soaking tub. Standard amenities include Aveda bath products, bathrobes, free WiFi, and in-room safes. The hotel is pet-friendly.

The one-bedroom suites at the Pan Pacific are wonderfully spacious and have sliding wooden doors to separate living and dining areas from the bedroom; a few of the suites also have balconies. In-suite dining is a special amenity offered to guests staying in the suites. The table is set with flowers and candles, you order from a special menu from Seastar, and the meal is served in your room by a waiter. It’s a perfect way to enjoy fine dining without leaving the comfort of your suite.

With the new Amazon headquarters right across the street and other major corporations moving into the area, the Pan Pacific is understandably popular with business travelers and offers a complimentary business center to its guests. A large gym, located in a separate building across the cobblestoned plaza in front of the hotel entrance, features state-of-the-art equipment, dry saunas and a hydropool. Adjacent to it is a Vida spa offering soothing massages and ayurvedic skin care treatments. A Whole Foods anchors the bottom level of the hotel, and there’s a Starbuck’s right next door—everything you need in Seattle. But because this area is so new, you might want to request a room with a view of the iconic Space Needle.

Aerial View : The Edgewater, Seattle, Pacific Northwest

The Edgewater

There is no other hotel in Seattle that sits, as this one does, on a pier facing Elliott Bay and Puget Sound. Open the windows of one of the waterfront rooms and you’ll hear the waves lapping, the gulls crying, and the sounds of harbor craft plying the waters. In a way, it doesn’t make sense to stay here unless you do book a water-facing room or suite.

The Edgewater’s history is part of its somewhat quirky charm. It’s basically a relic from the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, when it was built to house workers at the fair. When the fair ended, the building was slated to be demolished, but instead it was saved and turned into a hotel with the novel tag line “Fish from every window”. Guests could buy bait and tackle at what is now the gift shop and literally drop a line from their rooms—which is what the Beatles were photographed doing when they stayed at The Edgewater during their 1964 world tour.

The hotel became a Seattle fixture in the 1960s and 1970s and has been steadily upgrading itself over the decades. It’s now a four-star, triple-diamond property with rooms that were completely refurbished in 2013. Its utilitarian, motel-like façade has been disguised, but something of its fun, freewheeling Seattle spirit still survives.

You’ll encounter this first in the lobby, which has a kind of Pacific Northwest faux seaside lodge-chalet look to it. Columns are disguised as tree trunks, the furnishings are a mixture of rustic and comfy, there’s a big fireplace, and windows everywhere to show off the shimmering water view. In the adjacent Rock ’n Roll Hall of Fame Room, photographs of all the rock legends who have stayed at The Edgewater—everyone from the Beatles to Blondie—adorn the walls.

There are basically two room types, City View and Water View. The outlook from the City View rooms is not particularly inspiring, but the Water View rooms are literally right on the water—you can’t get any closer without getting wet. All these rooms are about 350 square feet in size. The Water View Premium rooms have gas fireplaces, walk-in showers and modern clawfoot tubs; you can slide open the bathroom wall to enjoy the view and the fireplace while you soak. (The standard rooms have a walk-in shower only.) The eclectic room décor is a mixture of styles that leans towards the sturdily traditional but includes some funky elements such as ottomans that look like hairy dogs.

If you’re a fan of the Fab Four, you might want to book the Beatles’ Suite (Room 272), where the pop stars stayed in 1964. The hotel also offers a few Waterfront Junior Suites on the top (fourth) floor, and a Penthouse Suite.

Chef John Roberts has turned the hotel’s restaurant, Six-Seven, into a fine-dining experience. If the weather is fine, try to get a patio table and enjoy first-rate Northwest cuisine with an incomparable view over Elliott Bay to West Seattle and the Olympic Mountains.

The Seattle Waterfront begins right outside The Edgewater’s door and is a lively place to explore. The Victoria Clipper, a high-speed catamaran that travels daily to Victoria, British Columbia, departs from the adjacent pier, and other cruise-ship and excursion boat tours are all within walking distance. The Olympic Sculpture Park is a five-minute walk north.

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