The Fairmont Olympic is the antithesis to the Seattle I’d come to know through grunge, which spawned the likes of Nirvana and Pearl Jam, and made flannel shirts a fashion statement.
As we pull up in its tree-lined driveway, a smartly dressed porter valets our car while another whisks our bags past high-end boutiques to a lobby, where ornate chandeliers hang high above elegant furnishings.
Yes, this is just about the last place you’d expect to hear Soundgarden blaring through the sound system. But it’s been nearly 30 years since I first heard Teen Spirit, and on my first visit to Seattle – with wife and four-year-old daughter in tow – I’m looking forward to a little luxury – or in the case of this hotel, a lot.
The Fairmont Olympic is located in a nearly century old building in downtown Seattle, close to Pike Place Market, vibrant waterfront and historic quarters, and local institutions like the Seattle Art Museum and Seattle Public Library. It’s an impressive structure that utilises Italian Renaissance architecture and is even listed in the National Register of Historic Places. But it only gets better inside.
Our recently renovated, 42sqm Executive Suite features separate living and sleeping spaces, with classical-style furniture fusing seamlessly with modern touches like contemporary art, a tech-filled workspace and widescreen TV.
Along with a king bed, there’s a sofa (bed), winged armchair and multiple lamps that light the room perfectly.
Beyond the fully stocked mini bar, espresso coffee and tea facilities, a beautiful, marbled bathroom boasts a combined shower/bath, large washbasin and fancy Le Labo toiletries, all lit by a bright mirror light.
Other notable features include terrycloth bathrobes, children’s amenities like no-tear shampoo and kiddie robes, and windows that actually open to let the crisp Washington air in – not that the suite needs too much airing with the twice-daily housekeeping service the hotel provides.
Back downstairs, on the second floor, the hotel boasts a health club with fully equipped gym, large lap pool, jacuzzi and sauna, all free to guests. Gorgeous glass walls and ceiling frame the wet areas, but it still feels as private as your own swimming pool would feel – especially on quiet days like we experience.
On the lobby level, a French-American breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea are served in the refined Georgian Room. And although it, along with the other lobby level spaces are now undergoing a comprehensive refurbishment, it’s hard to imagine the Georgian losing any of its classical charm (or hopefully its supposed 23 different hues of buttercream).
Tucked away in the lower level arcade, the equally traditional but more intimate Shuckers is solely responsible for the hotel’s dinner service. If you love seafood, especially of the mollusc variety, you’re in for a real treat here.
Elsewhere in the hotel, guests can enjoy a quiet drink at the lobby level Terrace Lounge, or at 4thAve, some great coffee. Expect something better than Starbucks, which was created just down the road.
As we check out (at the standard midday check-out time!) I have a moment to admire the lobby – its elegant timbers, high ceilings and stunning space underneath – one last time. Yes, I’ll remember this hotel as much as I will the city’s music culture. And from a guy who grew up on grunge, that says a lot.
The writer’s stay was partly subsidised by the hotel.