Last week I visited Seattle for the first time and I must admit, I went into it with preconceived notions that either A) it would be rainy and gloomy the entire week or B) I’d run into Derek Shepherd from Grey’s Anatomy and he’d fall all McDreamily in love with me. To my dismay, I didn’t run into anyone from Seattle Grace, but I was pleasantly surprised to find it sunny and calm during my entire stay. (Apparently Seattle doesn’t even crack the top 10 list of rainiest cities.)
I met up with my good friend, Doniree for a week of inspiration for our travel and food writing freelance gigs and couldn’t have been more impressed with the city and everything we jammed into our schedule. It’s a funny thing about the way Doniree and I travel – she is familiar with and embraces public transportation – I on the other hand, do not. I’m actually quite terrified of it to be honest. She took the train from Portland and I flew in from Houston – both of our methods of travel were under $189 each for a roundtrip ticket, which is yet another reason Seattle is a new favorite destination of mine. Once arriving at Sea-Tac Airport, Doniree instructed me to take the light rail directly outside the terminal to Hotel 1000, which was about a 25-minute ride. Easy enough.
First Bonus – The city was easy to navigate (see above). Not only with public transportation, but the taxi drivers were much nicer than those I’ve recently dealt with in Northern California. Even passerby’s strolling down First Avenue took the time to guide us in the right direction. Something about two city girls looking lost that people can’t turn away from I suppose.
Blonde girl looking lost – plus one for me!
As someone who travels a lot, I couldn’t have been more impressed with the amenities and staff at Hotel 1000. Not only was the staff super friendly, they showed some personality, which I can assure you is rare in the hospitality industry. The property definitely boasted a tech theme throughout with computer kiosks and printers in most common areas and even a “Microsoft Surface” which was a table-sized touch screen device to navigate fun things about the hotel and the city outside. The restaurant onsite was BOKA Kitchen + Bar which provided an upbeat and local atmosphere with a well-attended daily happy hour from 2:30-6:30p and again from 9:30pm-close.
Affordable, easy access and great vibe – plus two.
Putting the fun-loving staff aside, there were 4 things about Hotel 1000 that just set my heart on fire. They are, in no particular order:
1. The Golf Club, state-of-the-art virtual golf on the bottom floor of the hotel. Two large projection screens set up, a phone to order room service (including champagne), an iPod docking station to play your very own tunes, left and right-handed set of clubs and over 250 of the best courses to choose from on the monitor. This is by far the coolest part of any hotel I’ve ever stayed in. (To give that some validity, I’ve stayed in 68 hotels already this year, so I’ve got a basis for comparison to say the least.)
2. Spaahh, the full service spa, also on the bottom floor. As someone who has worked in marketing and branding for over 7 years, I appreciate a product or service with an aptly fitting name. From the moment Doniree and I walked into Spaahh, those words, that feeling of refresh and renew just rolled off our tongues. We both savored a 60-minute Swedish massage and mani/pedis with a glass of champagne. The only disagreement here is that there was only one flat screen TV in the mani/pedi room and Doniree wanted to watch The Food Network while I argued for SportsCenter. Spaahh was so relaxing, I chose to hang out in the dry sauna longer than most doctors would have allowed.
3. Full-size mirrors in the guest rooms. Seriously, when does this ever happen? It’s such a nice change of scenery (literally) to be able to see your entire outfit, shoes included, before stepping out into a new city.
4. French press coffee in each guest room. Although Doniree had to make my coffee for me (admittedly too difficult for me), it was nice to enjoy an exceedingly fresh cup before taking on a brand new day in Seattle.
(And I lied; those were in the exact order in which I enjoyed them.)
Second Bonus – All the shops we visited had a very vintage and fun feel to them, not your typical stuffy chain stores with the same stuff each and every season that most of us have become accustomed to. Here are a few of my favorite stores rocking so much pizzazz; you’ll have to see for yourself:
Diva Dollz – A corner store full of vintage-inspired jewelry, hats, burlesque and themed attire, lingerie and “dresses inspired by the past.”
thedivadollz.com | 206.652.2299 | 624 1st Ave
Fireworks – A store that contains so much tchotcke you feel guilty not buying at least three things (I bought a package of 7 fake mustaches to help celebrate Movember. “Celebrating Art in Life” is their tagline.
fireworksgallery.net | 6 locations throughout Seattle
Reconstructed Clothing Co. – “Old Materials…New Thinking” – The best part about this shop was the vintage Seattle Seahawks jacket I was dying to buy, but sadly it was too big. Lots of great finds, at extremely reasonable prices. (As a freelance writer, I know firsthand what reasonable prices mean.)
RecontructedSeattle.com | 206.448.2000 | 1922 1st Ave
Watson Kennedy - A collection of fine papers, books, jewelry, home and office décor and lots of stuff I never knew I wanted until I stepped in their door.
watsonkennedy.com | 800.991.9361 |multiple locations
Pala Pala Dress Boutique – Ranging in party dresses, casual cotton day dresses to everyday work dresses. Cute store, friendly staff, must see. The clearance bin in the back was ultimately impressive.
PalaPalaDress.com | 206.973.2328 | 1216 1st Ave
de Medici Ming Fine Paper – A small boutique paper store with personalized invitations and stationary, journals and other printed materials. I’m a sucker for paper, what can I say?
demedicimingfinepaper.com | 206.624.1983 | 1222 A 1st Ave
Third and Most Appetizing Bonus – A city full of flavor. Appetizers, wine pairings and desserts at BOKA Kitchen + Bar were fabulous, but the best meal by far was at Wild Ginger (1401 Third Ave at Union St.) which is an Asian Restaurant/Satay Bar with loads of personality. Why this surprises me I have no idea. Zagat has rated Wild Ginger as the #1 Most Popular Restaurant in the Pacific Northwest Region for 11 consecutive years. A pretty impressive accolade, but the food dishes and wine pairings quickly explain why. The staff was extremely knowledgeable and the place was brimming with dinner parties and girlfriends catching up over candlelight. Reservations highly recommended.
During our visit we had several recommendations to visit Purple Café and Wine Bar, so we hobbled over to the 4th Ave location to enjoy a bottle of vino before closing time. We met up with another good friend of ours and basically had the place to ourselves. The large circular bar made it easy to chat with friends on either side (as well as try and spot good looking men all over). Purple has four locations, one in Bellevue, Seattle, Kirkland and Woodinville.
My obsession with cupcakes has become quite surreal. Immediately after lunch we headed into one of the cutest bakeries known to man – Cupcake Royale where I gobbled up a delectable Royale with Cheese cupcake (chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting for $3.50) like someone who just ended her Jenny Craig diet after years of tumultuous torture. The cupcakes at Cupcake Royale are unique in that they are made with 66% local ingredients, adding a little extra local flavor to your calorie-filled treat.
For our last night in Seattle, we stayed at Hotel Sorrento, a sister property of our earlier hotel (Hotel 1000). The two hotels had very independent feels and vibe. Sorrento was a property much more akin to history and classic charm relying on the smaller details to please guests. The cutest thing about this hotel was the elevator carpet, changed out daily with the day of the week written on it – one of the most forgotten things for frequent travelers.
Last Bonus – The trip wouldn’t have been complete without at least some vague reference to the movie, Sleepless in Seattle. Luckily, we learned that the luxury suite in room 608 of Hotel Sorrento had a brief cameo in the chick flick (where Rosie O’Donnell is on the bed talking on the phone).
Finally, my trip to Seattle was complete. No McDreamy, but tons of mouthwatering food, great shopping and people watching and alas, my Sleepless in Seattle connection.
Hotel 1000 | hotel1000seattle.com | 1000 First Ave, Seattle, WA 98104 | 206.957.1000
Hotel Sorrento | hotelsorrento.com | 900 Madison Street, Seattle, WA 98104 | 206.622.6400
Jayme Lamm is a freelance writer and marketing consultant based in Houston focusing on travel writing and is in a full-court press writing her hugely opinionated sport’s column, The Blonde Side.