We fly into and arrive in Seattle around 6 pm, so, bags collected, it's quickly off to our first night's stay,
Hotel 1000, located at 1000 First Avenue at the corner of Madison Street. Close to the waterfront along Elliott Bay, it's centered between the
Pike Place Market,
Seattle Art Museum, business district and historic
The hotel opened in 2006 and features 120 luxury guest rooms, the BOKA Kitchen + Bar, Spaahh and The Golf Club. We find the staff friendly and helpful, and after a quick bite, we are off to see the musical,
Damn Yankees, at
The 5th Avenue Theatre, an ornate, historic downtown fixture, in operation since 1926. The show is fast-paced, well done, and we all know that
whatever Lola wants, Lola gets.
In the morning, I savour a delicious parfait with Greek yogurt, berries and granola; while my spouse enjoys steel oats topped with brown sugar along with a bagel with red onions, cream cheese and lox. Coffee is fresh and tasty. The hotel room overlooks the busy harbor with a view of local ferries coming and going.
A short walk takes us to the Art Gallery and then the crowded
Pike Place Market. At a fish stall, each of three young handlers shout out the name of the appropriate fish before they throw it through the air to one another, progressively moving the object from the ice-caked front display racks to the rear table where the fish is cut and packed for each customer's order. The large Dungeness crabs and smaller fish aren't very exciting to watch, but the heavy and long King salmon toss is an athletic feat that draws big crowds of admiring spectators and paparazzi.
We eventually move on to
The Sorrento, considered a boutique hotel with only 76 rooms, a mere 8 blocks north. We occupy room 608, used in the popular movie,
Sleepless in Seattle. To think - we share a bed with
Tom Hanks or better yet,
Meg Ryan! Actually, it was used to depict a New York City room occupied by Meg Ryan's boyfriend.
The Sorrento at 900 Madison Street on historic
First Hill has been a special draw from 1909, with rich, Italian architecture and personalized service. (When we wanted a ride downtown, we just asked - they provided complimentary service.) And the bedding here is so comfortable that the hotel routinely sells it to the public.
The Sorrento boasts an affinity for the arts. Inside the beautiful, oak-panelled main floor Fireside Room with large luxurious chairs, they offer live jazz and often conduct "Silent Readings" throughout the year, offering discounted beverages and food. You bring a book and simply read quietly in the elegant atmosphere, and this has become a fun outing for the likes of the mayor and other city notables.
For lunch, inside their warm, oak-panelled Hunt Club, a neighborhood favorite for locals, I choose "The Combo," selecting tomato soup, Caesar salad with savoury whiskey-dipped pralines and half a Reuben sandwich, while my spouse opts for vegetable soup, green organic salad and a farmer's sandwich featuring cheese, bacon, tomatoes and turkey on artisanal bread.
In the evening, we visit
Marion Oliver McCaw Hall at the
Seattle Center to see
Puccini's opera in which a Japanese maiden catches the fancy of a caddish American Naval officer, crosses cultural boundaries to become his bride, and grapples with a serious predicament while faithfully awaiting his return.
At the pre-performance talk,
Sue Elliott, Director of Education forewarns us that "This opera hurts," and she playfully recommends 4-5 tissues are usually required. Puccini's "Big 3" includes
La Bohème and
Butterfly, the latter being the opera that is most produced yearly. Sue, a Canadian with a degree from
McGill University, is a great source of information and she enriches our viewing experience. I am impressed with their entire world-class operation.
Marion Oliver McCaw Hall is the region's premier performance hall. It opened in 2003, and includes a state-of-the-art 2,900-seat auditorium, 400-seat Lecture Hall, café, luminous five-story serpentine glass Grand Lobby, and a 17,800-square-foot public plaza (Kreielsheimer Promenade) that serves as an entry into McCaw Hall and the Seattle Center Campus. McCaw Hall is the home to
Pacific Northwest Ballet,
Seattle Opera, community festivals and guest performers from around the world. My wife fortuitously discovers that it also offers attractive jewelry.
Sue tells us that they use the
Canadian Opera Company's minimalist set and costumes for Butterfly, and that on opening night, they staged a simulcast with five thousand viewers watching the entire performance in the adjacent park.
Our third day, we roam around the large, family-friendly Seattle Center, and move on to the
Seattle Pan Pacific Hotel, the sole US branch. The zebra-wood decor here you either love or hate. I like it. The emphasis is on soft, subdued Asian themes and artwork, and they enjoy a partnership with Vida Spa just across the street, offering 18 attractive treatment rooms. Looking out our expansive wrap-around windows that allow a view of the iconic
Space Needle, myriad city construction work and cranes are evident with a new museum soon to arrive. Our washroom features sliding panels a la Madama Butterfly for privacy.
Microsoft's headquarters is located directly behind us.
Located at 2200 Westlake Plaza, from here, it's a short walk to Seattle's Space Needle and only four blocks from downtown with streetcar service directly in front of the property. Thus, we are minutes away from
Nordstrom's flagship store, Seattle's premier
Pacific Place Shopping Mall, the city's vibrant financial center and exciting restaurants located in and around
The Pan Pacific's design by
Hirsch Bedner features soothing limestone interiors and light-filled spaces that create an aura of relaxation. It's a cosmopolitan oasis, and to our delight, a
Whole Foods Market® is located next door.
For supper at the
Seastar Restaurant and Raw Bar, I select the cedar plank, roasted wild Northwest King Salmon, cooked by Seattle's renowned chef,
John Howie, who owns four downtown restaurants. My spouse selects Alaskan Halibut Provencal. Our server, Jessica, recommends appetizers from the Raw Bar. I select scallops ceviche with mango-kiwi relish, lemon lime and cilantro while my spouse opts for Dungeness crab cakes with baby greens and kaffir-lemongrass vinaigrette. Dessert is a tasty strawberry-rhubarb crisp. Everything here melts delightfully in one's mouth.
In the morning, a Pan Pacific driver takes us to the harbour for the next stage of our journey. We vow to return soon to Seattle.
Mike Keenan writes for QMI Agency (Sun Media) Canada's largest newspaper publisher, printing 44 daily newspapers as well as a web portal, Canoe.ca. Besides regular columns for the St. Catharines Standard, Welland Tribune and Niagara Falls Review, Mike has been published in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Buffalo Spree, Stitches, West of the City and Hamilton-Burlington's View Magazine.