Destination Hotels & Resorts, 1415 Fifth Ave., Seattle, (855) 515-1144, 319 rooms from $199 (U.S.); motifseattle.com.
Turning a downscale Red Lion Inn into a boutique hotel that boasts a “Presidential Suite” takes some nerve. Motif Seattle, by Destination Hotels & Resorts, employed local designers with chutzpah to drape the unprepossessing bones of an everyman’s way station with assertive local art, gleamy drapes and boldly patterned, unmatched furniture. Up on the 20th floor, that presidential suite is one even a potential presidential candidate such as Hillary Clinton and her first gentleman would appreciate.
Seattle’s Central Business District is about six blocks up from Pike Place Market, so the out-of-towner gets it all with this Fifth Avenue and Pike Street address. Motif is close to the Washington State Convention Center and the Seattle Art Museum, but also great shopping at Brooks Brothers and Nordstrom and alluring independent boutiques, such as Alhambra.
Colourful overhead panels in the entranceway porte-cochère ease you into a spacious lobby where the abbreviated front desks are angled to remove barriers between staff and guests. The ploy certainly worked with me; only a few seconds passed before the friendly staffer and I were trading jokes. The paperless check-in was a plus.
The hotel’s abstract art invites closer inspection and public seating areas are open, with a quirky mix of furniture styles that makes them feel cheerful, casual and fun instead of closed-off, plush and clubby. A recent university grad would find it comfortable – his stuffy, monied grandparents might be less keen.
ROOM WITH A VIEW
Half of the rooms in this urban hotel have water views, but if you want a gobsmacking vista of Elliott Bay, Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, you’ve got to book the presidential suite with its windows that sweep across the living- and dining-room wall.
EAT IN OR EAT OUT?
Start your night at the hotel’s Frolik Kitchen + Cocktails, which recently made Travel + Leisure magazine’s list of America’s coolest rooftop bars. This fifth-floor patio is a favourite with tech-industry professionals, offering chic rooftop fire pits, swinging chairs built for two, and shuffleboard and ping-pong courts.
Bar snacks include tasty bacon-flavoured popcorn and chèvre- and pistachio-rolled grapes. But for sheer Seattle deliciousness, you’d be better off dining somewhere such as chef Tom Douglas’s seafood resto, Etta’s (a few blocks away). Etta’s Penn Cove mussels in coriander broth with (ultra-trendy) green California-grown chickpeas likely could, if asked, bring about world peace.
The entire bathroom of the presidential suite is unbeatable. The deep ensuite bathtub floated the boatus of my husband, the mock first gentleman, while there was enough room in the dual-faucet shower for Mme. President and a two-man security detail. But if the 20th floor is booked, at least all the rooms feature free WiFi, Keurig coffee-makers and iPod docking stations.
IF I COULD CHANGE ONE THING
Don’t all travellers love mini-bars? Whether we use them or not, there’s always a bit of excitement when you open the fridge. But at Motif, the fridges are empty; it’s BYOB. I’d rather it were a true mini-bar containing local brews and some Washington State wines.
WHOM YOU’LL MEET
The guest list seems heavily weighted with groovy young-ish professionals (a spindly T-shirted young adult in the elevator said he was an Amazon intern being put up at the hotel for several months), with the odd family and retired couple thrown in.
The writer was a guest of the hotel.