/ The Seattle Traveler
Seattle — By Andy Hayes on April 12, 2010 at 1:03 pm
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Relax in Luxury, Seattle Style, at the Fairmont Olympic

Seattle is a fantastic city, a true gem in the Pacific Northwest.  With all the great things to see and do in Seattle, it is hard to find a way to improve on the classic Seattle experience.  But why not treat yourself enjoy the city’s most luxurious hotels, the Fairmont Olympic.  It’s one of the world’s best hotels as named by Travel + Leisure, and as it should be as it’s one of the highest rated hotels in the Pacific Northwest – the only AAA Five Diamond Hotel.  Let’s learn a bit more about this iconic and luxurious Seattle hotspot.

A Historic Venue

You’d be forgiven for thinking the Olympic looks like two different buildings that were pushed together - they were!  The land where the hotel sits was originally owned by Arthur Denny, who gave it to the University of Washington for their original home.  The university was here from 1861 until 1895, when it moved to its present home on Lake Washington.

After moving, the University still owned the site, and created a company to lease and manage the land.  The university building was torn down and a new building was erected as a theater, and in 1911 opened as the Metropolitan Theatre.  In 1921, a proposal was put forward to close the venue and build a “grand hotel” on the site at the cost of more than $3 million dollars.  The proposal was to extend the facility around an entire city bock by wrapping the new structure around the existing theater building.  This expensive expansion was financed by prominent citizens, but the average Seattleite could purchase bonds to help contribute to the project, reinforcing the plans that this hotel be a part of the community.

The name Olympic was chosen by the community as well – the Seattle Times ran a contest (with a $50 award) for the best name.  A panel chose the name Olympic (over other names such as the Nisqually, the Gateway, and the Denny) but a local real estate broker won the award as the first of 11 names who submitted the Olympic.  He gave his award to the building funding.

The hotel formally opened in 1924, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.  It went through a major restoration in 1980 that make the rooms larger (and fewer), from 756 rooms to 450.  Fairmont took over the property in 2003.

On-Site Amenities

While Seattle is wonderful, you hardly have to leave the grounds as the Olympic has plenty of on-site amenities.  I’d recommend joining their President’s Club program – it’s free and adds lots of benefits at no cost.  Some of the things you can expect complimentary:

  • Wifi (both in lobby and in rooms)
  • CD Player, Coffee Maker
  • Working Desk
  • Toiletries, Hair Dryer
  • Safe
  • Bathrobes, including adorable kid-sized ones
  • Treats and amenities for your dog, if you inform them when reserving
  • Pool, hot tub, weight room and cardiovascular
  • Luxury Car for local transport use

The website has full details, but I think you’ll see the Fairmont is full-service, without question.

You’ll Not Go Hungry

While even the nicest hotels often have stuffy, unwelcoming restaurants, this is not the case at the Olympic.  In fact, one of the restaurants is a seafood icon, and the other a modern spot of fabulousness.  Three places you can eat include:

  • The Georgian: a breezy breakfast venue by morning, and a snazzy cocktail lounge by night.  It’s just steps from the lobby, making the appeal of a cosmopolitan or martini all-too-powerful on your way in or out for the night.
  • Shuckers:  Shuckers is consistently rated as one of the best seafood establishments of the entire city.  With dark wood panelling contrasting against the crisp white linens, the venue is a total dining experience
  • Belle Epicurean: Just go look at the website – these cakes and pastries taste even better than the look (and they look pretty amazing).  This place knows that fabulous and fashionable looks doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice quality of flavor – you definitely get both here.

Location, Location, Location!

The Fairmont Olympic is in downtown Seattle, near 4th and Olympic.  As mentioned earlier, for President’s Club members you will have access to a car for transportation to explore any of Seattle’s colorful neighborhoods.  But the thing is that there are lots of great things to see downtown, just minutes from the Fairmont, such as:

  • Theater:  The 5th Avenue theater is only a 2 minute walk (less than that if you catch the stoplight in your favor).
  • History:  If you head to the south about 10 minutes, you’ll end up in Pioneer Square, at the heart of the historic portion of Seattle.  Be sure to check out the Underground Tour, or just sit and relax in the tranquillity of the Waterfall Gardens.
  • World Flair:  Seattle’s International District, where you’ll find tasty cuisine and a wonderful ambient environment, is southeast only 10-15 minutes.
  • Classic Seattle: If you want to have those classic Seattle experiences – e.g. the Pike Place Market – it’s just a 10 minute walk west.  The monorail station is about 5 minutes to the north, which will take you to the Space Needle in just minutes.
  • Shopping: Downtown is also Seattle’s shopping district; nearly every block in all directions have shops and boutiques; there are even shops in the lobby at the Fairmont.  You won’t go needy.
  • Coffee: Ok, so there is coffee everywhere in Seattle.  If you’re staying at the Fairmont, head north and try Monorail Coffee, just west of the Convention Center.  It’s yummy.

Essential Details

Address: 411 University Street, Seattle WA 98101

Website: www.fairmont.com/seattle

Phone: 1 (888) 363 5022

Disclosure:  The author was provided a media rate at the establishment, which did not affect the content of this article.

Photos by brianholsclaw, pdstahl, fristle,  rbrands

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