I’ve spent this week hopping around the US West Coast, taking advantage of our newfound freedom to cross borders quarantine-free to meet a few American friends that I’ve been meaning to meet for a long time.
The first stop of my trip was Seattle, where I’d stay for one night before continuing down to California.
I was very much looking forward to revisiting one of my favourite US cities after many years away, even just for one night – indeed, it’d be my first time in town since Easter weekend of 2017, one of the first trips I had written about here at Prince of Travel.
W Seattle – Booking
Despite my affinity for the city, I must say I didn’t feel overly inspired in terms of picking a place to stay.
I had previously stayed at the Sheraton Grand Seattle, Renaissance Seattle, and the Executive Inn Space Needle (formerly a Best Western), and I wasn’t too enthusiastic about returning to any of them.
Upon weighing my options, I decided to give the W Seattle a try. Not only was the location fairly convenient, allowing me easy access to some of my old favourites at Pike Place Market, but the price point of US$225 for the night was also more attractive than the Hyatt-branded alternatives.
Under the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program, the W is a Category 6 hotel, meaning that a free night costs 50,000 Bonvoy points at the standard rate. Like many North American city hotels, it didn’t make sense to redeem points here, since I’d be scoring below our target valuation of 0.9 cents/point (CAD) for Bonvoy points.
I booked the cash rate instead, earning a total of 23.5x Bonvoy points on the stay as a Titanium Elite member (75% bonus on the standard 10x points) paying with an Amex US Bonvoy Brilliant Card (6x points on Marriott hotels).
W Seattle – Location & Arrival
The W is situated on the corner of 4th St and Seneca St in the heart of Downtown Seattle. “W” signs are perched prominently on top of the entrances on both streets, although the 4th St entrance is closed for the time being.
The hotel is a 10-minute walk from Pike Place Market and a seven-minute walk from the Seattle Center monorail, which would bring you to the Space Needle and the Chihuly Garden & Glass museum. It’s also a convenient uphill walk across the freeway to the assorted shops and restaurants of First Hill and eventually Capitol Hill.
I landed in Seattle–Tacoma International Airport by way of a quick Air Canada puddle-jumper flight across the border at around 9:30am, before catching an Uber to the W’s doorstep on Seneca St.
The Uber ride came to about US$33, although I did manage to make use of a US$15 Uber credit from my Amex US Platinum Card, whose series of monthly Uber credits can only be used in the US.
You can also make your way from SeaTac via the Link tram, although it’d take about 20 minutes longer to get downtown. University Street Station is the closest tram station to the W, one block to the west.
W Seattle – Check-in
The lobby at the W Seattle can be described as fairly docile compared to many of the brand’s more exuberant locations around the world. An enclosed fireplace in the middle of the lobby served as its main attraction.
The space is arranged in a split-level formation, with the lower level playing host to ample seating space and a DJ booth that might’ve seen more usage in better days, and the check-in desks themselves on the upper level.
My check-in associate was courteous and professional, though perhaps less upbeat than W associates are often trained to be. He welcomed me to the hotel as a Titanium Elite member, confirmed that I’d prefer the complimentary breakfast as my welcome amenity, and offered me a late checkout the following day (which I declined, since my flight would be leaving around noon).
He also confirmed that my upgrade request had been granted: a Studio Suite on the corner of the building, upgraded from the base-level Wonderful King Room.
(I had actually inquired over chat whether the hotel’s top-level WOW Suite might be available for an upgrade, though they had appeared reluctant to grant the request, and were more comfortable extending the upgrade to the Studio Suite instead.)
For a one-night stay on which I wasn’t planning to spend much time in the room, I wasn’t feeling fussy. I gladly took my keys and headed up to the 15th floor, greeted by a “Good Morning” carpet in the elevator that, once again, felt distinctly less snazzy than the “talking carpets” at many other Ws worldwide.
W Seattle – Studio Suite
Like many other parts of the hotel, the guest room hallways are noticeably less flashy than I was accustomed to at the W.
Even though the brand’s outlandish signposts or pitch-black hallways with neon strips of light aren’t necessarily to everyone’s taste, I thought the W Seattle took things to the other extreme with its “drab apartment building” look.
Stepping into Room 1502, and the inside of the Studio Suite was at least a little more exciting.
A funky pattern decorated the wall of the suite’s rather long foyer, before the rest of the suite opens up as you turn around the corner.
The Studio Suite is very much your textbook “junior suite”, offering only greater square footage compared to a regular room as opposed to truly separate spaces for the living and sleeping areas.
The suite features an extended desk with a sliver of a view over Puget Sound, and I found it quite comfortable to work from. The multi-purpose charging station was much appreciated, and it’s something that I wish more hotels would offer as a standard item.
I also appreciated that the hotel had proper restored proper glassware to its in-room amenities, which can’t be said for some of the other hotels I visited along this trip.
A hallmark of W Hotels is the signature throw pillow on the bed at each property, signifying something special about the hotel’s location. Here in Seattle, it was a simple touch of emerald for the “Emerald City”, contrasting nicely against the Pacific Northwest-inspired reclaimed wood design along the back wall.
Over on the far side of the room, there were two separate loungers facing each other, along with a wall-mounted television that wasn’t very ideally positioned for watching from any of the loungers or the bed itself.
Even though the Studio Suite was a decent size, its interior layout could use a rethink.
The most disappointing part of the room, however, would have to be the bathroom. It was fully functional, and that’s about all that can be said about it.
This was a far cry from the soup-bowl bathtub in Amman, the brilliantly illuminated bathrooms in Verbier, or the bathtub in the bedroom in Dubai. For all intents and purposes, it may as well have been a SpringHill Suites – and to make matters worse, the water pressure on the shower was very weak, too.
I had come in with moderate expectations, since I knew that North American hotels can often be hit-or-miss compared to their global counterparts. But even then, I found the rooms here at the W Seattle fairly underwhelming, and there were quite a few areas that I thought the hotel could do much better.
W Seattle – Breakfast
On a positive note, even though many US hotels continue to lag behind in terms of restoring breakfast benefits for elite members, the W Seattle didn’t disappoint in this regard.
Not only was I offered a US$20 breakfast credit to spend on any item, but this was a per-person credit based on double occupancy. So even though I was staying solo, I was able to order up to US$40 worth of items under my elite breakfast entitlement.
US$40 is a fair bit to spend, so I helped myself to a coffee and a tasty Blazing Bagel Sandwich on the morning of my departure, and also packed a few pastries to-go for later.
It’s worth noting that Trace Market is open for casual breakfast and lunch, as well as Happy Hours on some afternoons, but not for dinner. The venue was previously a more upscale operation known as Trace, but has now rebranded as Trace Market as of July 2021 due to ongoing labour shortages.
Indeed, there’s no “proper” dining venue on the establishment, so don’t expect to have dinner at the hotel restaurant if you’re staying at the W Seattle – not that it’d be an issue in a city with so many delicious bites in all directions.
W Seattle – Other Facilities
Occupying one-quarter of a city block, the W Seattle is fairly lean in terms of extra facilities, with the FIT gym being the only notable one.
There’s enough space for a row of treadmills, a handful of exercise machines, and a few areas for floor workouts in the corners. Your keycard provides access from 7am to 1am daily.
Many Ws around the world boast an indoor or outdoor pool as a standout amenity, although there wasn’t one available here in Seattle.
It’s not often that I leave a W hotel feeling mildly underwhelmed, but that was exactly my sentiment here. The W Seattle gave me some nice enough surroundings to rest my head for the night, but didn’t do much to dazzle me beyond that.
Some of the hotel’s interiors were impressive, although others – like the bathroom or the hallways – left a lot to be desired. Given the limited additional facilities and the trimmed-down dining operation that was recently put in place, I don’t see much of a reason to return for another stay.
Indeed, having stayed at quite a few of Seattle’s Marriott-family properties with no real payoff, I’m inclined to put my Hyatt Globalist status to good use at either the Hyatt Regency or the Hyatt Olive 8 next time.
That isn’t to say that I’m completely ruling out W properties in the Seattle metropolitan area, though: a reader advised me that the W Bellevue, right across Lake Washington, is much nicer than its big-city counterpart, so that’ll likely be my hotel of choice if I’m able to venture eastbound on my next Seattle trip.