Seattle city guide: The best hotels, restaurants, bars & tourist attractions
Set against one of the most spectacular city backdrops in North America, Seattle has always been a city that moves with the times and is full of surprises. Leading travel writer Roxii Hoare-Smith discovers the very best hotels, restaurants, bars and tourist attractions to visit in 2018.
Seattle is a vibrant, diverse and eclectic city with a laid-back attitude, which compensates for its cloudy and rainy weather (so don’t forget your umbrella!)
It may be known for its coffee, the Space Needle, grunge scene (Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains are all from Seattle) and where many big businesses started (such as Starbucks, Amazon, Microsoft and Costco) but there’s a lot more to Emerald City than you may think. So here’s why you need to plan a visit to Seattle…
STAY: Sleepless in Seattle
Stay downtown at the W Seattle. The 26-floor hotel has 424 deluxe rooms, including 52 suites, with rooms offering wonderful city views and a direct view of the Space Needle. You won’t want to close your blinds throughout the stay! The city lights and night time view is breathtaking. W Seattle is located in the centre of it all, so is the perfect location for a city break.
The hotel offers 24 hour in room dining, 24 hour concierge, plus W Hotel’s Whatever/Whenever Service – whatever your desire, the hotel will help make it happen! W Seattle is also a pet friendly hotel so you can bring along your four-legged friend.
The W is stylish with a sleek and chic design with a gorgeous bright pink and grey design. It’s a glamorous hotel with an edge to it, it looks more like a nightclub than a hotel – in the lobby there is even a nightly DJ. As a nod to Seattle’s reputation as one of the defining music capitals of the world, W Seattle opened the first W Sound Suite in North America. The private music studio and writer’s room is used by professional recording artists, studio musicians, as well as hotel guests, to record in style while on the road.
Take advantage of inhouse restaurant TRACE’s 3pm until 8pm happy hour (we did!) and enjoy wine for $6, beer for $5 and bar snacks from $4. TRACE serves a tasty selection of dishes – don’t accidentally over order like we did as the portions are HUGE, you are in America after all! Stand out dishes include Crispy fried brussels sprouts (brussels aren’t just a Christmas favourite in the US), Pulled pork sliders, and Kaula pig poutine. TRACE has a fantastic wine list featuring delicious Washington State wines.
Stop by Pike Place Market to see some flying fish…literally. Be entertained at Pike Place Fish where you’ll be able to see the fish fly past you as the vendors throw them back to forth to each other over the counter. Pike Place Market is an iconic Seattle landmark and as well as being the one stop shop for seafood the market is also great for fresh fruit and veg, flowers, cheese as well as restaurants with sweeping water and mountain views.
Don’t forget to visit the infamous Bubblegum Wall in Pike Place Market. It is said that the bubblegum wall started in 1990 by those heading to Seattle’s Market Theatre. Theatregoers would get rid of their gum before going in to a show. Now it’s a popular ‘Instagramable’ landmark in the city! It may be gross but it is also weirdly fascinating…
Seattle is known for its coffee so why not stop off for a cup at the original Starbucks in Pike Place Market. The store has barely changed its design since its opening so bears the original brown mermaid logo.
Another place for coffee fans is the Starbucks Roastery and Tasting Room, which is also known as the “Willy Wonka factory of coffee”. Here you can be one of the first to taste rare Starbucks Reserve coffees before they are shipped all over the world.
Head to Capitol hill, which is located just a short walk from downtown. Capitol Hill is a colourful, hip, buzzing area of Seattle. If you are looking to go thrift shopping – this is your place and it is also the area where Macklemore filmed scenes for ‘Thrift Shop’. Capitol Hill is the best area for trendy boutiques, great food and some of Seattle’s best bars with bargain happy hours. Gamma Ray Games is the perfect hang out for gamers. This games cafe has a large selection of board, card, and collectible games as well as an impressive variety of pinball machines. (If you are a pinball fan, you can also visit the Seattle Pinball Museum in the International District).
Visit the famous Space Needle for mesmerising views of the city and it’s beautiful surroundings. The Space Needle is currently undergoing a refurbishment, from June 2018 there were will be floor-to-ceiling glass and the world’s first rotating glass floor dramatically enhancing the views. Get there by Monorail from Westlake Center to Seattle Center for $2.50 one way. Below the Space Needle at the Seattle Center is the Museum of Pop Culture and the stunning Chihuly Garden and Glass.
Seattle is very walkable and it also has great public transport. Get around Seattle by Light Rail which goes from Angle Lake Station to the University of Washington through downtown Seattle via Sea-Tac Airport. One-way fares cost from $2.25 to $3.25.
If you have time, take a train to Portland which takes four hours through the Washington countryside and costs around $26 one way per person. In comparison Portland is considerably cheap with £3 pints, $4 breakfasts and there’s no sales tax so it is the best place to go shopping!
For beautiful waterfront views, have breakfast at local favourite Lowell’s located within Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Lowell’s, which is over 100 years old, serves traditional American fare as well as fine seafood choices.
Visit renowned chef Tom Douglas’ Lola restaurant for brunch where you can classic Pacific Northwest dishes with a Greek influence. You can’t leave without trying their doughnuts which are served with jam and mascarpone.
Biscuit Bitch is a Seattle staple – this cute coffeehouse specialises in Southern-inspired cuisine (especially biscuits, of course!).
Fast food chain Dick’s Drive In is a Seattle institution – visit the Capitol Hill branch where Macklemore filmed the video for White Walls. Perfect for on the go when exploring Seattle, you can grab a hamburger for as little as $1.40.
Make sure you are hungry when visiting Seattle’s International district. This bustling hub offers dim sum, noodles, sushi, bubble tea as well as gift and grocery stores, karaoke bars and it is where you can visit Tai Tung, the restaurant where Bruce Lee was a regular.
TeKu Tavern is a must-visit for beer connoisseurs. TeKu Tavern is the ultimate beer lovers haven, it is an experience within itself – a bar as well as a beer store. It offers 50 taps plus 23 fridges filled with beer to shop from from all over the world.
Fogón Cocina Mexicana is Capitol Hill is the best place to go for happy hour (3pm until 6pm and 9pm until close). Get the ultimate Margarita where you don’t get just a glass of Margarita but a whole cocktail shaker full so you can continue to pour yourself a drink – there’s no way you’ll go thirsty here! Appetisers are also served with drinks so there’s no going hungry either.
Unicorn is a carnival themed bar in Capitol Hill offering an innovative cocktail list and an interesting food menu serving magical unicorn or pegasus burgers, fried oreos and unicorn droppings – fried peanut butter cookie dough.
Head to Belltown for Belltown Brewing, a local bar with 33 taps and a great happy hour. If you’re a Bubble tea fan (or Taylor Swift fan!) then you’ll love Belltown’s Blank Space Cafe. Plus if you are looking for that perfect Instagram picture from Seattle, the Greetings Tour mural is just across the road.