I’ve traveled to Seattle a handful of times now and from my first visit years ago, it’s always been one of my favorite West Coast cities. From from misty mornings to the pale blue views of The Sound peaking through buildings…the cute coffee shops and vibrant energy of Pike Place Market…Seattle is a fun city. It’s also a big city! If you are trying to figure out where to stay in Seattle, I’ve got you covered. Keep reading for my first-hand recommendations on the best Seattle neighborhoods and my personal favorite Seattle hotels.
My now husband and I first visited Seattle back in 2016 in December as we were looking for a fun but cheap weekend trip from San Francisco. We had so much fun exploring this historic rainy city that we keep coming back in different seasons to get the full Pacific Northwest experience. There are a lot of cool places to stay in Seattle, but not every hotel is going to be a good fit for travelers wanting to get the true taste of the city. This city is huge and can take an hour to get from one side to the other in an Uber. My hotel list will help guide you!
My main first piece of advice: Skip the insanely cheap hotels in Seattle. This is a city to budget a tad extra for lodging because there some really fantastic hotels here that are almost an experience in themselves. I’m talking whimsical decor, stunning rooftops, tons of amazing amenities and more. Some places you travel to, it’s fine to go the budget or motel route and it won’t impact your trip at all. I promise that your Seattle trip will be 109323948918321 times more enjoyable and memorable if you book one of the hotels I recommend below!
Where To Stay In Seattle
My list of favorite hotels in Seattle that I know will make really fun and nice home bases to explore the city in!
Hotel Max is our go-to hotel that we stay in almost every time we’ve been to Seattle. I highly recommend this hotel for all visitors, but especially first-time visitors! I adore the decor in this hotel – it’s funky and artsy. They have a nightly free happy hour in the lobby featuring local craft beers and wines, which we ALWAYS take advantage of because, free beer!
Hotel Max is downtown (technically right outside the Central Business District) and near the Link stops, so it’s easy to get from the airport to the hotel (if you are looking where to stay in Seattle without a car, this hotel is great for that!) It’s about a 20 minute walk from the Space Needle and Lower Queen Anne Neighborhood and about a 10 minute walk from Pike Place Market, making it perfectly centered for major attractions. We love this hotel!
We love staying at Kimptons. (The Amara Hotel in Sedona is one of my favorite hotels in the country!) Each Kimpton is really unique in decor and vibe and they always have free happy hours, along with a ton of other perks. These other perks are usually things like being pet-friendly, have free bikes for guests to use, etc.
The Kimpton Alexis Hotel is in the Seattle center and in walking distance to Pioneer Square. It’s also a few blocks off the water (hello views!) This hotel also has free bikes for guests and a fantastic fitness center complete with a rock climbing wall if that’s your thing. Best part? They’re undergoing a big renovation and are set to have brand new rooms for Summer 2019.
Another hotel family we adore is Fairmont. We’ve had the pleasure of staying at a few Fairmont hotels in Northern California and have always been blown away by the top-notch hotel experience. We didn’t stay at the Seattle Fairmont, but we did get to see their teddy bear Christmas suite (it’s a Fairmont thing!) and from the moment we stepped into the lobby I felt the luxury for this hotel.
We got to poke around a bit on our way to the Christmas rooms and I mentally put this on my hotel Seattle recommendation list. This Fairmont is centrally located in the middle of downtown and right off the train line so it’s really easy to make this your home base for exploring. Plus, they have an indoor pool here which would be amazing to dip into during sticky Washington summers, or you can set up an afternoon high tea if you’re feeling fancy.
We LOVE using Airbnb when we travel, especially for trips longer than a few days or when we’re with a bigger group. To be blunt, Seattle is a city of hipster, which means they have a ton of really amazing Airbnb options. I currently have this Capitol Hill Airbnb saved on my homes list. What makes this one stand out is that it’s run by a super host (yay!) and it has a huge patio with a stunning view of the Seattle skyline! Like holy moly, I would want to have a nightcap right here each night.
Or, spend a few nights in a houseboat!! I’ve always wanted to do this because it looks like such a special place to rent for a night or two. So very PNW! This Seattle houseboat Airbnb has good reviews. It’ll be further from main attractions (you can’t walk to Pike Place Market in 10 minutes from here) but the tradeoff is an utterly unique experience.
The best way to describe the decor of the hotel is English sailor meets Pacific North West. Palihotel Seattle houses a restaurant, bar, coffee outpost and a cozy lobby lounge filled with whimsical pieces like stacked luggage, funky wallpaper, painted portraits and fun green paint hues.
If you are looking for an incredibly #igworthy hotel in Seattle, this is the best option! It’s a new hotel and also really close to Pike Place Market so you can grab breakfast there each morning, or lunch at our favorite clam chowder place each day, and really immerse yourself in the historic part of Seattle. We normally stay at Hotel Max but I think we’ll be trying this hotel out first hand on our next visit – I can’t resist their decor!
Thompson is part of the Hyatt family, another of our go-to hotel families. This hotel is notable for its amazing rooftop bar called The Nest, which is considered one of the best rooftop bars in the whole city. If drinking cocktails on tall places with great views is your thing (it’s mine!) then you’ll want to stay at the Thompson for easy access.
They also have suites and residences if you need more space for your family or are staying a bit longer than the typical weekend trip. With things like a full kitchen and washer and dryer, their residence apartment-like deliver the practical traveler’s needs so well. It’s also located near Pike Place Market and makes a great home base for exploring.
Looking for where to stay in Seatle for one night? Maybe you have an early flight after a weekend exploring Leavenworth, or a quick business trip. It’s so dang easy and quick to take the Link from the airport to downtown. It’ll cost about $3 and take around 45 minutes. Instead of booking one of the hotels near Seattle airport (boring!) I recommend booking one of my recommend downtown Seattle hotels instead. You’ll have a MUCH better time! Downtown is a popular pick of where to stay in Seattle for tourists and that’s because it’s FUN, but also easy to get to! (This is JFK where it takes hours to get into Manhattan.)
Are you a Starbucks fan? Make sure to visit the Orignal Starbucks store & the Starbucks Reserve Roastery!
Each time I visit Seattle, I love to get up early and visit the Pike Place Market before the rush starts. I love stopping by the Original Starbucks for a coffee and then a bagel breakfast inside the market. We hole up with a view of The Sound and watch all the passenger ferries come to the harbor. Then it’s time to visit museums and the Space Needle. Or a day walking around cute neighborhoods like Upper Queen Anne, the Fremont District to find the Fremont Troll, or go beer tasting in the Belmont area at all their craft breweries.
Sometimes we like hiking in the park or spending the day kayaking South Lake Union between coffee shop stops. Evenings are for more food and drinks at places like How To Cook A Wolf or Masonry (this city is a foodie haven!) Perhaps a night bar hopping at the University District or in Capitol Hill’s fun bars like the Unicorn Bar.
Seriously, Seattle Washington is so much fun. I love exploring the United States – check out all my other favorite cities and travel guides here! Anyways, I hope this list of hotels helps you decide the best area to stay in Seattle for your trip. I stand by all these hotel recommendations and know you’ll have an awesome trip to this city. If you are up for exploring beyond Seattle, check out Leavenworth in the Cascade Mountains – it’s a real-life Bavarian town!!
Got any questions or things to add? Maybe this guide helped you? I would love to hear from you – leave a comment below! Make sure to follow me on Instagram @thewhimsysoul!