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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Four Seasons: Seattle's Cool

Here in Seattle we like cool.  Not the finger-snapping, head-bobbing, dark-sunglasses kind. The contemplative gray weather, subdued clothing and any-car-color-but-red kind.  We believe in elegance over flash, doing over bragging, and pocket protectors over gold chains.  A special occasion calls for a microbrew by the fire with friends on a rainy night, not Cristal on a sundrenched Malibu cliff with helicopters clattering overhead.

Which is why the Four Seasons Seattle is perfect.  It's everything a celebration-minded local could want, and everthing a luxury-minded tourist needs for a glimpse into our character.

Rising in a discreet block of stone and glass at the south end of the Pike Place Market, the Four Seasons does not dominate Seattle's skyline. Instead its shape echoes that of the Seattle Art Museum directly across the street. The hotel's location makes it possible to step directly out of the foyer to two of Seattle's major attractions.

That foyer pays homage to the location - housing a museum-worthy collection of works by promininent Northwest artists. But in keeping with Seattle style, the art never calls attention to itself.  You'll notice it when you look for it. Maybe while you're sitting by the sleek modern gas fireplace or headed to the hotel's ART Restaurant for dinner. There, behind a ceiling-high screen of stored Northwest wines a mix of locals and hotel guests are silhoutted against the shimmering bay. Servers glide back and forth lofting plates of Pike Place Market delicacies transformed into colorful arrangements like culinary versions of the bouquets sold by the market's flower vendors.

For our first visit to a Four Seasons hotel, my husband and I stayed in the least-expensive room we could book. Even so we found the level of luxury bordering on alarming. Twice-daily service, a pre-filled ice bucket and a view of ferries and freighters sliding across a section of Elliott Bay were some of the surprises. Also remarkable for a luxury hotel was the complimentary wi-fi. 

Best of all was the bathroom - a palace of warm brown marble with a separate room for every purpose.  Between the dual-headed shower and the bathtub big enough for snorkeling I would have begun to look like a Shar Pei puppy if I had remained much longer.

Not unexpectedly there was no in-room coffeemaker. We briefly toyed with the idea of pulling on jeans and sweaters to walk to the Market, but decided that we hadn't distilled an eternity of long work hours and late meetings into a night at the Four Seasons to do what we could do any other day.  So we called room service. The coffee setup arrived to the minute of  when it was promised, and another staffer arrived later unbidden to whisk away the empty dishes. 

For a luxury visit to Seattle it would be hard to top the Four Seasons.While the rest of the country broils, the Four Seasons is as cool and collected as a Seattle summer.

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