Old World, $$ (From $119)
At the turn of the 20th century, in the farthest reaches of the country, anxious prospectors, intrepid entrepreneurs, and curious tourists arrived in Seattle for the first Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in search of the place to lay their heads: the newly christened Hotel Sorrento. Beneath thick wooden beams, leather-stitched arm chairs, and a roaring fire, men and women slept on pillow-top beds, toasted to their adventures in the reading nooks of the Fireside Room, and danced at the Top o’ the Town, the city’s highest restaurant on the hotel's seventh floor. The year was 1909. A hundred-some years later, Hotel Sorrento remains the longest-standing boutique hotel in Seattle, in the city's oldest neighborhood, First Hill, as the burgeoning metropolis and tech world continue to grow all around. Each of the 76 rooms and suites has its own charm and unique appeal, but mostly its the display of old-school opulence of the Italian Renaissance (the hotel was designed after the Vittoria in Sorrento) pulsing through the structure with Venetian marble, Honduran mahogany wood, and century-old antiques, that continue to provoke "oohs" and "ahhs" from its guests. It's an age-old saying, but a walk through the lobby makes you think, "If only these walls could talk."
At a Glance
The Vibe: Worldly great-grandfather's cigar den.
Standout Detail: The Fireside Room off the front desk is a real smoke show with its Honduran mahogany-lined wood walls, baby grand piano, faint cigar smell, and a tiled fireplace from the famed Rockwood Pottery Company, considered irreplaceable. Not surprisingly, it was the hangout of President Taft, the Guggenheims, and the Vanderbilts.
This Place Is Perfect For: Travelers who want to rub elbows with Seattle's old-school elite, American history buffs, and guests who love A+ service without even asking for it.
Rooms: Given the hotel's unique triangular shape, each of the 34 guest rooms and 42 suites are uniquely designed to feel spacious and warm, with a view of either the Puget Sound and Olympic mountains to the west, or Lake Washington and the Cascade Mountains to the east. Framed historical prints, gold-trimmed mirrors, velvet furniture, and meticulously kept antiques keep the historic feeling alive, while plush pillow-top beds, all-white Venetian marble bathrooms and luxe robes are welcome modern updates.
On Site: For over 100 years, the Sorrento's trademark has been hosting special events and serving as a cozy living room for Seattle locals; including the popular Silent Reading Party that happens the first Wednesday of every month in the Fireside Room. On Friday and Saturday nights, live music and DJs create a lobby buzz, while couples battle over the coveted nooks and leather sofas to enjoy their cocktails. Also onsite are various event and meeting spaces, business center, salon, a shiatsu practitioner, and 24-hour fitness center (which is a bit outdated but includes enough equipment to get the blood pumping).
Food + Drink: The Dunbar Room has lived many lives — including one as a tiki bar and another as a billiards room — but now serves as a casual restaurant that's equal parts European bistro, American steakhouse, and Pacific Northwest seafood destination with repeating mahogany-lined walls and blue Moroccan floor tiles. On Sundays they host a lively jazz-fueled brunch with bottomless mimosas and cocktail specials. As temperatures rise and daylight lingers, Seattleites take advantage of the outdoor patio of the European-style Garden, taking in Seattle's (rare) sunshine with a glass of locally sourced wine in hand.
What to Do Nearby
The hotel is perched atop First Hill, Seattle's oldest neighborhood, and the health hub of several hospitals and medical centers, as well as the Frye Art Museum, housing many important private family collections. The attractions of Capitol Hill are also just a short walk away: The Asian Art Museum, Volunteer Park and the Japanese Gardens, and the Egyptian Cinema housed in an old Masonic temple. The neighborhood is also home to the city's most-famous musicians (Jimmy Hendricks's old stomping grounds), artists, and counterculture rebels, making it home to the city's coolest bars, restaurants, music venues, and shopping. A not-so-secret hole in the wall, Tacos Chukis, serves what's known as the best Tijuana-style tacos in Seattle with no-frills simple ingredients that deliver. Local, wild, and foraged ingredients are the star of chef Nathan Lockwood's specialty-crafted menu at Altura, and if an after-dinner nightcap is your thing, cocktails at Sun Liquor are hard to beat.