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Seattle Travel Guide

About Seattle

If Seattle was a person it would be the one who everybody else wants to be: the cool, indie kid with the kooky style, the chilled attitude and the fat wallet. Seattleites are a relaxed bunch, just as happy catching waves on Puget Sound or hiking in Olympic National Park as they are sipping cold brews in Starbucks, rummaging through vintage fashion stores or grooving to the latest tunes in speakeasy-style basement bars.

The city has a well-deserved reputation for fostering creativity and enterprise. This is the birthplace of global mega-brands Amazon, Microsoft and Boeing, but it's also a spawning ground for fabulously eccentric micro-companies. In the kookier neighbourhoods you can barely move for independent book stores, nano-breweries and pot shops. Then there are the wonderfully weird institutions – the underground Metaphysical Library; the 'Official Bad Art' museum; the giant troll lurking underneath a Fremont overpass.

Of course, Seattle doesn't lack for more conventional attractions. No visit to the city would be complete without a trip up the Space Needle, with its world-beating views over Puget Sound and the snow-capped Olympic Mountains. There's also a first-class art museum, a superb science centre, a waterfront aquarium, the shimmering Frank Gehry-designed EMP Museum and an extraordinary garden of organic glass sculptures at Chihuly Garden and Glass.

MOHAI (Museum of History and Industry), meanwhile, ignites curiosity in Seattle's past in its sprawling location at Lake Union Park, and the Seattle Great Wheel whirls seaside lovers round and round on a downtown waterfront pier.

Exploring Seattle's neighbourhoods is like meeting different family members. There's Capitol Hill with its indie boutiques and hidden speakeasy bars, Ballard and its Scandinavian-infused historic streets, or funky Fremont, the self-dubbed 'centre of the universe'. Downtown's shiny skyscrapers rub shoulders with heritage buildings around Pioneer Square, home to the original settlers.

Culture more your thing? From cutting-edge theatrical productions to folk, rock and opera performances, the city that brought the world grunge continues to set trends. Over 100,000 visitors attend Bumbershoot, North America's largest urban arts festival, held each Labor Day weekend. Seattle's culinary scene is thriving too, with new restaurants opening every week and food festivals running throughout the summer. With an eclectic nightlife scene and stellar shopping to boot, there's little this stylish city can't offer.

Key facts

Population:
634535
Latitude:
47.603505
Longitude:
-122.329746

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Featured Hotels

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Moore Hotel

Just a couple of blocks away from Pike Place Market, the Moore Hotel and Theater date back to 1907. Rooms are basic, but clean, and a good price for the location. The theatre itself (run separately by the Seattle Theatre Group) is Seattle's oldest operating theatre and has been renovated in 2013. All the grunge-era greats played there, including Pearl Jam, Mudhoney, Nirvana and Soundgarden.

The Maxwell Hotel

Wonderfully eccentric décor, friendly staff and an enviable downtown location combine to make this one of the city's top mid-range boutique hotels. Rooms are famously comfortable (some even boast views over towards the Space Needle) and guests have access to an indoor pool, fitness centre, café and 24-hour business centre. Outside, it's just a hop-and-a-skip to major attractions such as the Teatro ZinZanni, Seattle Center and Experience Music Project Museum.

Hotel FIVE

Modern and colourful, Hotel Five's guest rooms are all shiny hardwood floors, bright red accent walls and super-contemporary furnishings. It's the neat little extras that make this hotel stand out too – freshly baked pineapple cupcakes and coffee each afternoon in reception, golf umbrellas in every room (a Seattle essential), plus complimentary bikes and town car service. Max's Café is a great stop for breakfast or lunch.

Hotel Ändra

Hip Hotel Ändra's sleek décor is a tasteful nod to Seattle's Nordic heritage melded with Pacific Northwest contemporary design, featuring wood, water and stone throughout. Finnish architect's Alvar Aalto salon chairs and Arne Jacobsen's striking orange swan chairs make the living room loft a cool place to hang out. Guest rooms come with traditional Scandinavian patterns, alpaca headboards, striped chenille bedspreads, Lacava sinks and FACE Stockholm bath products.

Thompson Seattle Hotel

Housed in a spectacular Tom Kundig-designed building, the 12-storey Thompson is the hottest new addition to Seattle's hotel scene. The 158 guest rooms are the epitome of class – think dark-wood panelling with brass details – and the best rooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows with views over Pike Place Market. There's a rooftop bar boasting a dazzling outlook towards the Olympic Mountains, a 'glam-rustic' restaurant and a spectacular events space for business travellers.

Fairmont Olympic Hotel

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Fairmont Olympic Hotel captures the elegance of a bygone era - without stinting on modern luxuries. Its 450 rooms have cosy furnishings with excellent amenities, and the service is impeccable. This Seattle hotel, built in 1924, also has a sumptuous health club with indoor pool and whirlpool plus an on-site spa. Other features include two superb restaurants.