Bitterwallet Shoestring Travel Guide: Scrimping in Seattle (Part 2: Accomodation Review)
Finding cheap accommodation in Seattle was no easy feat. Here's my personal experience from a recent trip, with reviews of each place.
Each hotel reviewed includes contact info, the average price, the price we paid, our personal rating and review, hopefully to save you some time on finding a good place by recommendation.
The places we stayed in varied from a 3 star hotel rated as the number 1 hotel on Tripadvisor, to a downtown condo in Belltown Seattle, to the 4 star Renaissance Marriot Hotel. Research was conducted via a combination of Craigslist Seattle, Hotels, Expedia and various Seattle forums.
Hopefully the information compiled here will come in handy for those that want to venture to Emerald City.
1. Watertown Hotel
4242 Roosevelt Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105
Average Price: $192 / night (£130 / night)
We paid: $135 / night (£90 / night)
Watertown Hotel is rated as the #1 Hotel in Seattle on TripAdvisor. Through Hotels.com, the rate was reduced from the average $192/night on Tripadvisor to $135/night. While it's still rather expensive, we figured we should give it a try for just one night to see if it lives up to its name.
Summary: Watertown did not live up to the #1 standard in Seattle.
And here's why.
Firstly, the hotel is located in the North of Seattle. You have to get on the highway to reach it. It's about 10-15 minutes away from the city centre by car, and commuting daily to the centre is not my idea of a holiday vacation. If you want to be near the university, fantastic. Otherwise, start looking for somewhere more central.
Secondly, poor customer service. Upon arrival, we had no help with our luggage. The shuttle person who picked us up offered very little in the way of assistance, despite a pretty generous tip. Despite asking for help at the front desk, it was suggested I use the trolley in the hallways to self service. What is this, a petrol station?
Thirdly, despite being told we would have a room with a great view, our room faced a street with old buildings and a street with traffic. The first time I looked out the back, I saw three teenagers drawing graffitti. If I came to Seattle to watch Banksy wannabes, I might as well just hang out in London.
Also, we were actually assured on the phone prior to reservation that we would get a room with a view like this:
Instead, here's the view we got (and this photo is complimentary):
Upon requesting to change a room to a better view, all we got was a 'sorry, not possible.' Apparently, all the nice rooms have been booked.
For these reasons, I certainly did not find that they lived up to their motto of 'providing our guests with legendary service'.
Having said that, the rooms were spacious, and had a nice atmosphere to it, so I find that they at least deserve 2 stars. Rooms were also well equipped with a large empty fridge, TV, internet and hairdryer. I just don't find that they justify for the money. The 'complimentary' shuttle (which you still have to tip for, with plenty of $1-$5 notes deliberately for display on the console right by the driver's seat). The shuttle also only runs once an hour up to a certain time and drops you off at a fix location.
We only stayed here for one night, because one night was all we needed.
2. Belltown Court Apartment
Contact: Emma Woods / Van Woods @ Seattle City Suites
+1 206 898-3218
NORMAL RATE: $175/night (£120)
WE PAID: $99/night (£68)
Before we go into details, this find is such a gem that we would hate having it booked up should we return in the summer.
But here you go. Because sharing is caring!
So what's special about Belltown Court?
For one, we got it for almost half price.
I must admit we were concerned it may be a scam at first, when the owners were willing to take payment via Paypal. I'm glad to say not only did not get ripped off, we got a lot more than we paid for.
It doesn't hurt that the apartment is located right in the heart of the city's 'hippest neighborhood'. We were concerned about Belltown, having heard that it's where the homeless congregate. However, we never felt unsafe throughout our stay. In fact, the building is extremely secure, and the neighbourhood was very popular amongst locals.
There are at least 5-10 trendy restaurants within a 30 second walk from the apartment (with Subway and an Italian joint right next door). It's an amazing location for seeing major sights including The Space Needle, Pike Place Market, Seattle Center, Olympic Sculpture Park, Victoria Clipper, Waterfront Boardwalk and Aquarium, EMP, premium shopping, and the trendiest dining and nightlife right at our front steps.
The property normally rents for $175 / night, but when we contacted them, it turned out that they were doing a special deal for just $99 / night.
Looking on Craigslist, I discovered a couple of other apartments in the same building. Most had an asking price of around $200-$300 / night, so I figured this was a steal.
The owners are a very nice couple that live just 2 doors down. They are some of the nicest and most helpful people I've ever dealt with. Over 2 weeks before arrival in Seattle, they helped us with our travel arrangements via email, and everything went smoothly as planned.
Upon arrival, access was easy enough. We simply entered a code at the front door, and the door would unlock. We then took the elevator up. The apartment is only 3-4 doors down from the elevators. When we reached the door, it was already unlocked, and our keys were on the table along with some nice complimentary amnesties.
The suite was nicely decorated and fully furnished. It had a gorgeous kitchen and 2 Brita filter jugs in the fridge along with some complimentary drinks.
There was a separate area for the double bed, washing equipment, fresh towels and a huge walk in closet.
Prior to arrival, I read that Belltown's main streets gets pretty noisy, so we were glad to find out that we faced the back, with a nice view of a fountain courtyard. In fact, right across from the condo is an indoor swimming pool, hot tub, and sauna that guests are allowed to use. There is also wi-fi in the apartment, and a fitness center & business center in the same building that you are welcome to indulge yourself with. The owners even give you a parking space, and offer a car rental deal.
They even have a selection of movies, music CDs, books and guitar for enjoyment on their super comfy sofas. One night, my internet stopped working, and while I was able to pick up a free connection from the courtyard, the owner came right over and helped me fix it!
For $99/night, this was a total steal. I am rating it a 4/5 because while we were able to waive the cleaning fee, I think with it, the price may cost a bit more.
We stayed here for 2 nights, and loved every second of it. We would be more than happy to have stayed here for the rest of our Seattle trip but unfortunately they were completely booked for the rest of our stay.
3. Renaissance Hotel, Downtown Seattle
515 Madison Street
Seattle, WA 98104
NORMAL RATE: $318/night (£219)
WE PAID: $125/night (+ tax = $140) (£96)
I will admit that the only reason we stayed here was out of convenience. We were attending a seminar on site, and the hotel promised "Luxury, Accessibility and Affordability" - at least, that's what you're supposed to get for a night's stay at the posh Renaissance Hotel in Downtown Seattle, part of the Marriot Hotel Group.
You certainly get it, but unfortunately, the hotel is a tad bit on the expensive site, starting at around £100 per night. But seeing that our conference seminar occurred at this hotel, we decided to just fork out the extra cash as an investment to not having to wake up at 7am.
But for the traveling businessmen, you will like what the Renaissance has to offer. The hotel is a perfect place for business meetings and running seminars. Fax, copy, and toll-free phone services are available in the hotel. We also got complimentary wireless internet service as part of our group, but there is free excellent wifi in the lobby and on the conference floor.
And you can leave your personal assistant at home, because there are messengers, translators and secretaries at your disposal. Legal Matters? A Notary Public is provided in the hotel's full-service business center.
In terms of room and service, they treated us pretty well. We had a room with a pretty nice view, along with a really comfy bed. We also received copies of the local newspaper every morning, and local food delivered to our doorsteps. Gourmet room service was also available from 6am to 11pm even though we didn't try due to our budgets. The sky bar on the top floor was also an awesome experience, with a great view of the city. Our waitress even gave us complimentary non-alcoholic drinks. We obviously tipped her nicely afterwards.
The hotel also offers pet accommodation for as low as £67. And if you bring children but want to go on a sleepless in Seattle date with your partner, the hotel also has a babysitting service to look after them.
Foreign Exchange Service is also offered at the Concierge. There are also safe deposit boxes available at the front desk. The hotel pool is also pretty nice, and the fitness center while small is pretty convenient if you fancy a workout. There's also a couple of golf clubs within a few minutes of the hotel.
While I would not recommend the Renaissance Hotel for shoestring budget travellers, it's a pretty good choice for those with a bit more cahs to spend. For downtown Seattle, it's reasonably priced. Compared to the similar rate we paid at Watertown, I would certainly recommend Renaissance more.