With a strong Canadian dollar, despite long waits at the border, Vancouverites love to spend time south of the border. Shopping at outlet malls, professional sports games, hitting the slopes, and more shopping are main draws between the two rainy Pacific Northwest cities. Over the last few years, John and I have enjoyed Seattle together, mostly during day-trips and mostly during baseball season. I’ve spent the night in the city a few times and searched the usual online review sites to pick a room based on ratings and location. Thanks to a media trip I was a part of last week, I now have a list of four hotels throughout Seattle that I know I can choose from based on their neighbourhood, price-range, and comforts.
Pineapple Hospitality hosted a group of media from Vancouver last week so share their story, which includes operating four family-owned Seattle-area boutique hotels. They have The Watertown Hotel and The University Inn in the University of Washington District (just North of downtown), HotelFIVE (in the heart of downtown), and The Maxwell Hotel (Queen Anne).
We stayed in The Maxwell Hotel for a few days and met with Michelle Foreman Barnet, President and COO, and her team around the fireplace in the lobby. “Experience transcends the physical product,” she said to our group when talking about her hotels. And we had quite the experience at The Maxwell.
Just one year old, The Maxwell (named after Michelle’s son) was crowned one of the Top Ten Trendiest Hotels by TripAdvisor, and I can see why. It’s not often I walk into a hotel room and say out loud: “Nice!” (for various reasons). I think the last time I did that was at the Beau-Rivage in Lausanne, Switzerland, at The Wick, or upon coming across the phenomenal showers at Tulalip.
The Maxwell is located at the foot of Queen Anne Hill, which Managing Director Marco Baumann told me is one of the seven hills on which Seattle is built. It’s walking distance to the Space Needle and Seattle Centre (I also took the Monorail from Westlake downtown back to the hotel on my own), and there are some great restaurants nearby like Pesos and Toulouse.
I enjoyed entering a room and being immediately welcomed by a vase with flowers and a little ledge on which I placed my room key. One peek around the corner and the room opened up. Hardwood floors, bright colourful fabrics and prints, a large flat-screen television, pod coffee maker, tall windows, and with one more turn into the bright bathroom I spotted amenities and plenty of counter space.
I stay in dozens of hotels each year and there are a few key things I look for in a room:
- Suitcase stand: This might seem rather obvious but I don’t like putting my luggage on the floor. If I can easily find a stand for my suitcase that’s the first “win” for a hotel room in my books. The suitcase stand was out in the open (not hidden in the closet) at The Maxwell.
- Outlets: I travel with a lot of tech. I plug in my laptop, charger for my camera battery, an Airport (for my own WiFi), and charger for my iPhone. Sometimes I have to unplug clocks and lamps or crawl under a desk to find an outlet. Not at The Maxwell. There were several easy-to-spot outlets above table-level where I could charge-up.
- Television: A must-have for me in any hotel room is a sleep-timer on my TV. I don’t travel just to watch TV in a hotel however I do use it to help me fall asleep – I like the background noise. Having a sleep-timer allows me to turn on the TV, watch for a few minutes, and have it automatically turn off after 45 minutes. Complete with timers on the remotes, when you hit the power button you also immediately get local channels, not a hotel ad. A nice touch.
Again, those seem rather simple and might not phase a casual traveler, but they’re little things that I enjoy seeing in a property. I also mention them because I could simply type descriptive words like “elegant”, “comfortable”, “modern”, “bright”, and “welcoming” to describe The Maxwell, but those small touches do make a difference to me. That, and the delicious mini pineapple cupcakes that are served with complimentary coffee in the lobby each day.
A quick check of the rates online and you can book a room from about $139-$179 a night this winter. Bonuses are free WiFi and parking, free bike rental, an indoor pool, a coffee shop counter in the lobby (the incredibly large lobby at that), and it is a dog-friendly hotel. While they’re comfortable for a solo traveler or a couple, the rooms are practical for families, with two queen beds available, a small living room area, and a fridge. A restaurant will also be opening in the new year.
The staff was friendly, from Justin who checked me in at the front desk to Tyler the General Manager, along with Sam and Marco – our super hosts during our stay. Thanks to this trip I got to spend time in an area of Seattle that I had not previously explored and am looking forward to seeing how the Queen Anne area grows around the Maxwell.