Downtown Seattle's Emergence

Seattle is often brushed aside and teased for its "Rainy City" sobriquet—not the best hook for attracting visitors. Fact is, the reference is a patent misnomer: In reality, Seattle receives less rain per year than Houston, New York City—most cities on the Eastern Seaboard. Once that is cleared up, Seattle quickly jumps to the forefront of American city gems.  Seattle's lively waterfront offers plenty of sightseeing, shopping, and dining choices

One property helping to boost Seattle's status is the Hotel ändra in the Belltown neighborhood: a trendy district teeming with retails stores and restaurants—a quasi-SoHo on the West Coast, if you will.

Hotel Design

The property, part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World network, itself dates back to 1926, but multiple renovations since have turned it into the 119-room luxury boutique hotel it is today. The property was known as the Claremont Hotel up to 2004, having been purchased two years earlier by Scandinavian hotelier, Craig Schafer, who, undoubtedly because of his heritage, wanted to remodel the property employing Scandinavian design.

Don't be confused: Though it is Scandinavian inspired, it's far from your average IKEA. Floors are made from recycled hardwood and much of the property's paneling is done with stone. Guest rooms are accented with dark wood furniture, oversized walnut-stained desks and the bathrooms have retained their original-tile flooring.

 Suite at the Hotel Ändra, Seattle's luxury boutique property

"The owner wanted to create what he saw in New York, with a northwest feel," says Charlotte Wayte, Hotel ändra's director of marketing.

Of the hotel's 119 rooms, more than half are suites—the crème de la crème being room 910, otherwise known as the Monarch Suite. At 1,200 square feet, the suite features a separate bedroom with king-size bed, a dining area with seating for 16 and a sitting room furnished with a large settee, two club chairs and a 42-inch plasma-screen TV (not too shabby if a client wants to catch a Seattle Mariners baseball game). The master bath is over 400 square feet and is equipped with a two-person shower, double vanity and soaking tub. Sound appealing? The Monarch Suite runs about $2,700 per night and an adjoining room can be added on for an additional $309.

If your client is looking for something a bit less lavish, regular rooms start at $249 a night. Kelly Murray is the property's travel agent liaison, and can be contacted at 206-694-7270 or [email protected].

For foodies and gym rats, the Hotel ändra has them covered. Tom Douglas' Lola restaurant occupies the hotel's ground floor and serves a Greek-inspired menu that combines local northwest ingredients. Seattleites have come to know Douglas as the definition of northwest-style cooking.

The property has a gym on the premises, but also has an exclusive partnership with the Seattle Athletic Club, a private club which grants Hotel ändra guests access for a fee of $12.

On The Rise

Hotel ändra is one part of Seattle's surge as both a domestic and international destination. While the property is your best bet for a luxury hotel in the Belltown district, other properties are sprouting up across the city. Another boutique, the Arctic Club Hotel, will open this January, while two Hyatt hotels are due in 2008 and 2009. No wonder developers are building: the Seattle Convention and Visitors Bureau reports that Seattle/King County attracted a record 9.4 million overnight visitors last year, each spending $625 on average. Room revenues jumped 17.2 percent, buoyed by average daily rates, which increased by 11.9 percent.

Attractions such as the recently completed Olympic Sculpture Park, and, of course, landmarks such as the Space Needle and Pike Place Market (home of the famous fish market and its flying fish) all pump up Seattle.

A residual effect of cruising also helps Seattle tourism. Many cruise ships call the Port of Seattle home for their Alaska itineraries, which adds visitors to the city doing pre or post stays. Internationally, Air France just last month inaugurated non-stop service between Seattle and Paris.