Fairmont Olympic Hotel, Seattle

411 University St, Seattle, WA 98101, USA

Set on what was once the original campus of the University of Washington, this downtown landmark was opened in 1924, and now sits on the National Register of Historic Places. Its stately spaces have played host to generations of weddings, proms, banquets, and other opulent events, as well as a number of notable guests; John F. Kennedy stayed in the Presidential Suite during his visit to Seattle, for example.

Following a renovation in 2016, the Fairmont Olympic Hotel now features 450 rooms and suites with sophisticated décor, comfortable furnishings, and Le Labo products. Among the dining options are the elegant Georgian, a much-lauded favorite for breakfast, lunch, and the famous Afternoon Tea; The Terrace Lounge, for great drinks and live music; and Shuckers, one of the city’s oldest (and best) oyster bars. The latter pairs fresh seafood with local microbrews, including the hotel’s signature honey ale, made using honey from the building’s rooftop hives. Other amenities include a day spa and salon, and a health club with Jacuzzi, sauna, and indoor pool.

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A Historic Hotel In An Iconic City

The Fairmont Olympic hotel is a Seattle landmark. It’s been open since 1924 and has been a luxurious member of the Seattle community ever since. Going on a short jaunt and want to travel in style? The house car will take you, no charge. Feel like staying close to home for the evening? There’s a famous oyster bar, Shuckers, below the lobby. Or just feel like being treated like royalty? The staff here have that down pat. This hotel is a very convenient place to stay downtown and their rates are surprisingly reasonable for a five star hotel.

Settle In at Your Seattle Suite

At the Fairmont Olympic, every room is a suite. Originally built with nearly 800 rooms, the hotel later remodeled, combining rooms into spacious, airy suites for families, couples, and business travelers. The suites feature large bathrooms with separate dressing areas, French doors that divide the sitting room from the bedroom, and sofa sleepers. In a nod to the local climate, umbrellas are thoughtfully provided in each closet. On-site dining options include Shuckers, a casual oyster bar; The Georgian, offering French-inspired Northwest cuisine; and the Terrace piano bar in the main lobby. The health club features a swimming pool, whirlpool, cardio machines, locker rooms, and saunas. Penelope & the Beauty Bar is the hotel’s spa and wellness center, offering treatments ranging from massage to sugaring to luxe mink or silk eyelash extensions. Get some work done at the business center, or arrange a meeting in one of their event spaces. Wi-fi is available for a fee, or is complimentary with a free President’s Club membership. Family-friendly options include cribs and high chairs upon request, babysitting services, and kids’ restaurant menus.

Have Lunch By the Pool

For those virtuous souls who actually stay committed to their workout routine while on vacation, the Fairmont Olympic’s health club is a luxurious and service-oriented fitness center. Swim year-round in the indoor pool, relax in the hot tub, or bask in the soothing heat of the saunas. (The last hour of the day is adults-only, but kids are welcome any other time.) There’s an exercise room with weights and fitness machines, as well as fluffy towels, robes, and newspapers for post-workout reading. You can even order room service to be delivered poolside and have lunch on the outdoor deck in the warmer months.

Holiday Fun at the Fairmont

One of the best times to visit the Fairmont Olympic is during the holidays, when the historic hotel offers a series of festive events. It starts on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, when the hotel auctions off an array of beautifully decorated Christmas trees, each with a special theme, to benefit the Seattle Children’s Hospital. Then there’s the lighting of the impressive 25-foot-tall tree in the lobby, which takes five people a half-day to decorate. The Olympic’s Holiday Tea is a local tradition (and a welcome excuse to dress up in a mostly casual town), and the Holiday Tea with Santa—featuring activities, music, and a gift for every child—is ideal for families. The colorfully decorated Teddy Bear Suite is a favorite with kids and free to visit, although voluntary donations benefit the Seattle Children’s Hospital. On selected dates, you might also catch local school and youth choirs performing Christmas songs in the lobby. Special holiday banquets include a Thanksgiving Feast, Christmas Eve Dinner, and Christmas Day Festive Feast; reservations are required. Ring in the new year with the New Year’s Eve Gala Dinner, including an hors d’oeuvres reception, live entertainment, and a champagne toast at midnight.

Get Cuddly at the Fairmont's Teddy Bear Suite

An annual holiday tradition, the Fairmont’s Teddy Bear Suite is a lavishly decorated set of rooms that overflows with hundreds of teddy bears in every size and color. Kids are welcome to cuddle with the bears and look through the stacks of picture books, and family photos are encouraged. Admission is free, but the optional donation boxes benefit uncompensated care at Children’s Hospital. The Teddy Bear Suite is open from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve; check the website for dates and times.

Christmas Day Dinner in the Georgian Room

In the early 90s, when my son was little, we often went to the magnificent Easter Brunch in the Garden Room at the Olympic Hotel (which was then a Four Seasons). We long ago moved away from the Emerald City but our son, now grown, has returned. We visited him for Christmas and decided to return to the Fairmont for their Christmas Dinner served in the Georgian Room. What a wonderful new memory to add to our memory book of this grand old hotel. The room, painted a creamy pale yellow, was decorated with pine, flowers, wreaths, and shiny things. The staff was warm and helpful. The dinner? Perfection. Appetizers/first courses and desserts were served buffet style with creative and delicious offerings. The main course was chosen off a menu. Service was relaxed. No rushing at all. Our favorites? Jerry loved the fresh oysters and crab for starters; the turkey with all the trimmings for his main. Jason couldn’t get enough of the fabulous selection of cheeses and his steak was so tender he didn’t realize he was using his butter knife to cut with. I loved the shrimp, the “de-constructed” sweet potato casserole, and fresh fruit. My sweet potato gnocchi was lighter than air...a hard feat to master. Gingerbread cookies, pecan pie, chocolate cake, chocolate fondue, and yes, more cheese topped off the dinner. All in all, a wonderful new memory at the Olympic Fairmont to relive in our hearts.

Sweet Sustainability: Rooftop Honey

From the Smith Tower observation deck, lush green pops of color against a grey rain-washed cityscape are a vibrant reminder that Seattle-ites leverage every opportunity to innovate. Rooftop gardens abound. At the Fairmont Olympic Hotel, rooftop honey forms the core of the hotel’s environmentally friendly initiatives. The hotel maintains five rooftop hives for a half million bees and partners with chefs and breweries to offer a honey-infused breakfast, honey-smoked salmon, and honey ale. Back home on a grey day, while preparing a cup of tea, a small jar of Rooftop Honey is a sweet reminder of reasons to return to Seattle - innovative energy, amazing food, and natural beauty.

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