It's triple digits today in the San Fernando Valley, which is making me long for Seattle, where I spent Friday and Saturday -- thanks to the thoughtful folks at Nissan, who sponsored my visit for the purpose of reviewing the latest iteration of the Versa sub-compact. My review of the car will appear soon on the blog at AskPatty.com. Below is my account of all things I encountered on the trip that was NOT automotive.
"You're in a great location," the driver said as he pulled up to Seattle's Hotel 1000. "There's a lot to do here and it's all in walking distance." I was checking in a full four hours before the Nissan folks asked us to meet for dinner -- so I decided to take a little walk.
The last time I was in Seattle was on the drive home from our Alaska cruise, back in 2005. The city is just as charming as I remembered, but what struck me this time was how wonderful everything smelled.
"I may not be able to stick with the vegan diet," I told my husband. Seattle, it turns out, is a foodie paradise -- very much like San Francisco. And it probably didn't help that the first thing I did was find my way back to the Pike Place Market.
I wanted to pick up a latte at the original Starbucks -- but there were so many other tourists crowding the place that I ended up passing it by. Fortunately, there are hundreds of other Starbucks' locations in Seattle, and I was able to get my caffeine fix at a beautiful store on Pike and 1st before heading back to the hotel.
On my walk, I not only passed the Seattle Aquarium, but the Seattle Art Museum (where I snapped this commanding piece of animated sculpture). I love all the public art I saw throughout the city; this museum is on my list to explore the next time I visit.
The Hotel 1000
"It doesn't look like much from the outside," the driver told us, "but it's one of the best hotels in the city."
And I could see what he meant, from the moment I stepped into the minimalist lobby. The Hotel 1000 is fabulous in a W kind of way.
Nissan had booked me into a double Queen room that was incredibly spacious. The decor was sleek, modern and luxurious (high threadcount bedding, plush microfibre robes, Egyptian cotton towels), and the kind of electronics you would expect in one of the tech centers of the country: including a 40" LCD flatscreen TV and a hub that allowed you to easily connect your portable devices (iPod, laptop, etc) to play things on it.
This is not the kind of space that allows an old-fashioned "do not disturb" sign for the doorknob.
And in a nod to the tech-savvy business traveler, the wi-fi was free. One of my pet peeves is that free wi-fi is standard at economy lodges, but always comes at a premium at four-star properties. Hotel 1000 is one of the few luxury hotels that gets it right.
...even the expected coffeemaker was a little bit unexpected: it was a sleek French press pot, in tandem with a fast-heating electric kettle (much nicer, especially if you prefer tea to coffee). The coffee on hand was Starbucks' premium Fair Trade variety, Cafe Estima, which is a lot smoother than the usual house blend. Very nice.
The hotel also thoughtfully included instructions on how to brew the coffee with the presspot. I only wish they had also included a diagram that indicated where to find the switches for the electronics. It took me several minutes every time I wanted to turn the lights on or off (and because the room was amply sized, there were several different zones to choose from).
Hotel designers strive to give their guests an experience that us at least as nice as what they have at home, and the easiest place to do that is in the bathroom. The nicer the hotel, the better the bathroom setup .
The Hotel 1000 does not disappoint, with a modern soaking tub visible in the middle of the room (separated from the bedroom by a glass panel and a push button privacy screen).
When I see a bathtub like that, and I have the time, I just have to use it. I'm glad I did, because filling the tub was an experience in itself: The tub doesn't have a faucet. At least, not a traditional one. When you turn on the water, it comes down in a steady stream from the CEILING.
The effect is quite dramatic, but not super practical. I'm the type of person who doesn't arrive at a proper water temperature easily, so I tend to stick my hand in the stream until I get it right. And sometimes, that can take me a while. With the water coming down from the ceiling into a tub in the middle of the room unattached to any walls, the result was a lot of water splattered everywhere.
I did my best to soak up the puddles... and left the maid a somewhat larger tip than usual for a one-night stay.