One of the fastest-growing and most economically robust metropolises on the West Coast, Seattle is a great hotel city on a few counts. It's home to a good mix of luxury, mid-range, and economical options. There's an abundance of creatively designed, stylish, often boutique-size properties that reflect the city's arty vibe and creative spirit. For gay travelers, the vast majority of the city's hotels are within walking distance of Seattle's main LGBT nightlife and business core, Capitol Hill. Additionally, Capitol Hill has several handsome, inviting bed-and-breakfasts, some of them gay-owned.
Finally, Seattle's strong economy has precipitated the development of several new properties, which as of this writing were either under construction or planned for the next couple of years - these include Kimpton's new Palladian Hotel, which opened in early 2015, and the glitzy new Thompson Seattle, from the swank Thompson Hotels group, which opened in 2016. Also planned for 2016, a 180-room Seattle property from the luxury SLS Hotels brand.
The majority of the city's hotels are in the downtown core, which extends from the waterfront east to the sunken Interstate 5 corridor, and from Pioneer Square and Yesler Way north up through Belltown and to the Seattle Center complex, home to the EMP Museum, Pacific Science Center, and the ever-recognizable Space Needle. In this hilly swath of downtown high-rises that also includes key attractions like Pike Place Market and the Seattle Art Museum, you'll find most upscale properties catering to a mix of business (especially on weekdays) and leisure travelers - downtown has a handful of bargains, but the city's least expensive chain hotels and motels are in outlying neighborhoods and close-in suburbs, such as the area around the airport, Sea-Tac.
Keep in mind that in addition to generally having the highest rates in the city, downtown hotels also charge a sometimes hefty fee for parking - anywhere from $25 to $50. You can easily navigate downtown without a car (there's Central Link light rail service from the airport), but wheels can be handy for exploring some of the city's very interesting outlying neighborhoods, especially Ballard, Fremont, and Wallingford, to the north.
Capitol Hill, home to many of the hottest restaurants in town as well as quite a few diverting boutique and trendy nightspots - both gay and mixed - lies immediately due east of downtown. It's just a 10-minute uphill stroll from many downtown properties to the nearest establishments on lower Capitol Hill, along the Pine and Pike corridor, but keep in mind that Capitol Hill is an expansive neighborhood, so it can be at least a 30-minute (and, again, uphill) walk to points farther afield. Again, Capitol Hill does have some very inviting B&Bs, mostly in the mid- to upscale price range, plus a couple of larger hotels. So if you really want to be in the heart of this hip district, consider one of the latter options.
If you're wanting to stay near the increasingly hip and trendy Ballard, Fremont, and Wallingford neighborhoods, which are a 10- to 15-minute drive north of downtown, your hotel options are limited, but there are a couple of cool little boutique properties in Ballard as well as several options near the relatively nearby University of Washington District.
Seattle keeps pretty busy year-round, but high season is definitely during the warmer months, from late spring through early autumn. Hotel vacancy can be tight at these times, and rates can rise by 25% to 50%, or even more. In winter, you can score some great bargains, especially on weekends. Even during the colder months, weekdays can sometimes be expensive when large conventions are in town.
Here's an alphabetical listing of appealing, gay-popular places to stay in Seattle. Also check out the hotels page at the excellent Visit Seattle website.
Set in a 24-floor building in downtown, Hotel 1000 (1000 1st Ave., 206-957-1000) is a favorite with tech-industry workers and design-minded travelers for its gadget-rich, warmly decorated, and stylish rooms that include a number of bells and whistles (plug-and-play media consoles, hi-def TVs with surround-sound, and some of the coolest bathtubs in the city - they're filled with a single stream of water from the ceiling). Highly personal service and such perks as a virtual-reality golf club, an intimate but excellent full-service spa, and the superb restaurant BOKA round out the hotel's many strengths. Hotel 1000 is part of the LGBT-popular Provenance Hotels group, which also operates such popular Pacific Northwest lodgings as Seattle's Hotel Max, Tacoma's Hotel Murano, and Portland's Lucia, deLuxe, and Sentinel hotels. See our longer review of Hotel 1000 for more details.
In the increasingly hip and food-driven Belltown district just north of downtown, the indie-spirited Hotel Andra (2000 4th Ave., 206-448-8600) is one of the more stylish properties in the neighborhood. It's across the street from Dahlia Lounge and Dahlia Bakery, of Tom Douglas's Seattle restaurant empire, and it's also home to Douglas's restaurant Lola (serving Mediterranean-inspired Pacific Northwest cuisine, like pan-seared ling cod spanakorizo with sunchokes and black garlic and grilled short ribs with pomegranate glaze, tabbouleh, mint, pistachio, and parsley tahini) and the Italian eatery Assaggi Ristorante, where you might sample grilled prawns coated in goat cheese, mint, and oregano sauce, and classic veal shank osso buco with seasonal vegetables over arborio rice. The 119 swank rooms have a clean, unfussy Scandinavian-inspired look and plenty of high-tech perks, such as LCD flat-screen TVs, Tivoli clock radios with iPod input, and FACE Stockholm bath products. The Andra occupies a 1926 former apartment building that's a 20-minute walk from Capitol Hill nightlife and is right on the edge of downtown as well as being a short walk to the Seattle Center and Space Needle.
Part of the same Provenance boutique hotel group behind Hotel 1000, Tacoma's stylish Murano, and trendy Portland accommodations the Sentinel, Lucia, and deLuxe, the playfully decorated and reasonably priced Hotel Max (620 Stewart St., 206-728-6299) is on a tree-lined street in Denny Triangle, on the edge of downtown and Belltown, and within easy walking distance of the lower reaches of Capitol Hill. Built in 1926 as the Vance Hotel, the Max is themed around edgy art and indie music - an entire floor serves as a lively tribute to Seattle's famed alt-indie Sub Pop Record label (they who have recorded Nirvana, The Shins, Fleet Foxes, and Sleater-Kinney). The Max is all about service and originality, offering such groovy amenities as a pillow menu, preloaded iPods, and such pet-friendly perks as doggie room service and a pet-literature lending library. Travelers on a tight budget can land great rates with one of the cozy "mini-full" rooms, which are just 175 square feet but are well-designed and exceedingly comfy. There are larger rooms, too, if you're wanting more room to relax. The hotel has one of the warmest and most inviting lobbies of any hotel in town, a casual and colorful art-filled space with a fireplace, where from 5:30 to 6:30 nightly, the staff serves complimentary pints of local craft beers. This is also a good opportunity to hit up the knowledgeable and friendly staff for dining and sightseeing recommendations. Of course, for eating, you can always head next door to hotel's terrific restaurant, Miller's Guild, a bustling meat-focused eatery with a toasty wood-fired oven and such notable fare as 120-day dry-aged Niman Ranch bone-in rib eyes, grilled lobster tail and endive salads, grilled baby octopus with chickpea puree and lemon marcona almonds, and panfried calves' brains on toast with egg and truffle.
In the heart of downtown Seattle, near Pike Place Market, Pioneer Place, and the Seattle Art Museum, Kimpton's elegant 189-room Hotel Monaco (1101 4th Ave., 206-621-1770) is very much a favorite with LGBT visitors. Rooms are done in colorful, bold tones and patterns (including deep-red accent walls and animal-print robes) and have flat-screen TVs, louvered wooden window blinds, top-of-the-line bath products, Yoga Channel on TV along with yoga mats, mp3 players, free Wi-Fi (as long as you join the complimentary Kimpton Karma Rewards loyalty program), and in-room spa services. The hotel's Sazerac Restaurant serves terrific, globally inspired Southern fare: think smoked duck sausage with Creole mustard, fried green tomatoes with fresh burrata cheese and pickled Fresno chiles, grilled hangar steak with black garlic-eggplant puree and heirloom tomatoes, and Neah Bay King salmon with sweet-corn flan, Creole-spiced crab broth, summer squash, and herb salad. It's a 20-minute walk from the gay bars of Capitol Hill. Kimpton's other welcoming Seattle properties include the Vintage, Alexis, and the new Palladian.
In the U.S. state with the most prestigious and prolific wine-making scene after California, it's makes perfect sense that one of Kimpton Hotels' most appealing hotels in Seattle carries out a vino-centric theme. Hotel Vintage (1100 5th Ave., 206-624-8000) is downtown and catty-corner from the amazing Rem Koolhaas-designed Seattle Central Library, conveniently just off of I-5 and an easy 10-minute walk up the hill from Pike Place Market, the Seattle Art Museum, and other key attractions. It's set inside a vintage 1920s brick-and-limestone building that Kimpton converted into a hotel in 1992 and recently gave a stunning, modern remodel. With vineyard-y colors like burgundy, olive-green, and taupe, rooms reference eastern Washington's acclaimed Wine Country - each is dedicated to a specific winery. Features include 46-inch flat-panel TVs, Obsess wireless media docking stations, minibars with neatly curated snacks and beverages (including mini bottles of Fernet Branca), in-room spa services and yoga/pilates exercise programs, and ultra-comfy pillow-top beds. Bathrooms at the Vintage are on the compact side, but they're well-outfitted with top-notch C.O. Bigelow bath products. There's a 24-hour exercise room, and 24-hour room service is available from the superb ground-floor Italian restaurant, Tulio. Guests are also treated to complimentary wine hour each evening in the cozy lobby, from 5 until 6 pm. The Vintage often has fun promotions, too, such as the Taste Washington package, which is offered during what's billed as the "nation's largest single-region wine and food event," Taste Washington (held Mar. 26-29, 2015), which is a short walk from the hotel - just request the rate code PTWA for 15% off the best rate and a complimentary bottle of wine. Check the hotel's Promotions page for other cool deals and offers. Kimpton has three other great Seattle properties, the Monaco, Alexis, and brand-new Palladian, which opened in 2015.
A longtime Seattle favorite thanks to outstanding personal service, a location that's both peaceful yet steps from vibrant Pike Place Market, and three outstanding restaurants, the Inn at the Market (86 Pine St., 206-443-3600) rises eight stories, with many of its 71 rooms and suites offering expansive floor-to-ceiling views of the harbor and, in the distance, the Olympic Range. In 2015, this upscale but unpretentious property underwent a complete guestroom overhaul - these airy, contemporary rooms now have black walnut and weathered-hardwood floors, cozy swivel chairs facing the windows (perfect for reading a book while enjoy the magnificent vistas), and stunning desks fashioned out of reclaimed wood - aesthetically, they're the perfect blend between urban chic and Northwest rustic. All have iPod docks, free Wi-Fi, coffeemakers, and other welcome perks, too. Definitely check out the rooftop deck, which is a lovely place to take in the dazzling views. Bathrooms are spacious, modern, and well-lighted. The dining options here include the romantic French brasserie Cafe Campagne, the outstanding mod Korean bistro Cha:n, and the casual Pacific Northwest breakfast and lunch cafe Bacco. There's no on-site gym, but guests can obtain passes to prestigious, nearby Seattle Athletic Club for a small fee.