The Hotel With the Best Views in Seattle (and Shuffleboard, Too)

Laura Begley Bloom
·Editor-in-Chief

You make a reservation, but you don’t know what a hotel is really like until you stay there. There are hundreds of thousands of hotels worldwide, and with new ones opening every day, it’s impossible to know what you’re going to get. Yahoo Travel takes the guessing out of your reservation by going inside some of the world’s best properties for the Hotel Insider column.

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The outdoor terrace at Motif Seattle, which has become a gathering spot for local hipsters and in-the-know travelers. (Photo: Motif Seattle)

Hotel: Motif Seattle

Location: On Fifth Avenue near Pike Street, the Motif is smack in the center of Seattle’s urban action, just a short stroll to the legendary Pike Place Market.

First Impressions: Bright lights, big city. That’s the view and the vibe you’ll get at this stylish new hotel, where rooms overlook the skyline, Pike Place Market, the waterfront, and — on a sunny day — the Olympic Mountains in the distance.

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The colorful, Mondrian-inspired entrance. (Photo: Jonathan Bloom)

Background: This high rise is actually a former Red Lion Hotel, which the current owners bought for a cool $71 million, though you’d hardly know it when you walk through the doors. Destination Hotels & Resorts, which manages the property, poured millions and millions into a redo. Now, oversized paintings greet you in the dazzling lobby. There’s a fire pit by the front door. And as you walk into Frolik, the in-house restaurant and bar, video installations flash scenes of the city.

Related: Secrets in Seattle—The Perfect Weekend in the Emerald City

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A warm welcome in the lobby. (Photo: Jonathan Bloom)

The Vibe: The Motif says that it is “inspired by Seattle’s uniquely progressive culture” and showcases works from local artists and an ever-changing design scheme from tastemakers like Jordan Christianson of Jonquil & Mr Black, a Seattle-based couture luggage and accessories firm. (Christianson created a pattern for the hotel’s launch that was used on everything from textiles to letterhead.)

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An art installation depicting a local ferry. (Photo: Jonathan Bloom)

The architecture and interiors are the genius of Seattle-based firm, Ankrom Moisan, which is known for its work with McMenamins, a line of pubs, breweries, and hotels throughout Oregon and Washington. They went local with the materials, like wood paneling sourced from the region.

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Cocktails on the terrace at Motif Seattle. (Photo: Jonathan Bloom)

What I Loved: The hotel caters to hipsters with lots of outdoor fire features and an open-air patio that does double duty as a bar and play area — but any age will feel right at home. On the patio one afternoon, my 3-year-old daughter and I enjoyed playing Shuffleboard with another family from California, while a gaggle of good-looking Seattleites sipped cocktails at the al-fresco bar. The day we checked out, I spotted a few baby boomers snapping selfies under the Mondrian-style entrance to the hotel.

Related: There’s More to Seattle Than Just Coffee

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Playing shuffleboard. (Photo: Jonathan Bloom)

What I Didn’t Love: If you’re driving to the hotel in your own car, there’s a confusing sense of arrival. When we pulled up, there was no curbside valet there to greet us. So we went into the underground car park, where we weren’t quite sure where to go, then had to schlep our bags upstairs in the elevator. The hotel told me it is working on improving this experience, but I’ve also heard that when you arrive by taxi, the doorman comes out quickly to greet you.

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A guest room with a view. (Photo: Motif Seattle)

The Rooms: The 319 rooms and 10 suites are cool, with splashes of color and big windows that overlook the city. I don’t think I’ve slept this well in ages: the pillow-top mattress was layered in what felt like gazillion-thread-count linens. There’s also free water in the room, free Wi-Fi, and a sleek Keurig coffeemaker. My only complaint: the bathroom was tight, with very little elbow room around the sink area. This is the one moment where the property’s former life as a Red Lion Hotel peeks through.

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Frolik, the dining space at the Motif. (Photo: Jonathan Bloom)

Where You Eat: The Motif has become a local destination for Frolik Kitchen + Cocktails, its sprawling in-house restaurant and bar that takes over the fifth floor and adjoining terrace. The space transforms throughout the day. It’s sunny and bright at breakfast time, when menu items include a decadent eggs benedict that changes with the season (Dungeness crab in the fall, squash and ham in the winter).

Related: Best Vacation Ever! A Pot Tour of Washington and Oregon

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Dungeness crab eggs benedict. (Photo: Jonathan Bloom)

Come happy hour, the lights are lowered, the LED-lit bar casts an aqua glow, and the blue cheese bacon fries (oh yes) and rosemary and smoke salted nuts come out. As you would expect, there’s a creative cocktail list, with drinks like the Frol!king Dandy (yes, that’s how it’s spelled), a concoction of rye, dry vermouth, solerno blood orange liqueur, and orange bitters. Dinner is a serious foodie affair, specializing in regional American cuisine with a Pacific Northwest twist — think seared wild king salmon with roasted sunchokes, cauliflower puree, celeriac, apple, and curried apple gastrique. Not to be missed: the ricotta donut holes with chili-chocolate and citrus dipping sauces.

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By the outdoor fireplace. (Photo: Motif Seattle)

Don’t Miss: Frolik’s outdoor space is inviting, even on a misty Seattle evening, thanks to the outdoor fireplace and the bar with a built-in fire feature that makes your cocktails practically glow in the dark. And what would life be without a game of ping-pong or shuffleboard between drinks? The Motif definitely knows how to keep its guests entertained.

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