A guard of honour greets you upon arrival at Seattle's Kimpton Palladian: four suited-and-booted oil paintings of recognisable faces dressed in roughly Napoleonic military garb. Look right, and you're eyeballing Jimi Hendrix. On your left? Bill Gates, heavy-rimmed specs juxtaposed with natty naval dress.
This nod to the city's high-achieving golden boys is part of a playful approach to design echoed throughout the 97-key hotel. Located inside a 1910-built property in the historic Belltown district, an elegant Beaux-Arts exterior belies the hotel's industrial interiors. There's no doubt you're in the Pacific Northwest with those heavy skies outside, but the lobby's distinctive paintings - and liberal use of dark greens, blues and greys - bring the city's characteristic indie cool inside. As does the name of the downstairs bar. Nirvana fans paying homage to their heroes' home state will enjoy drinking in the Pennyroyal. Upstairs, meanwhile, further celebrity depictions await in the lighter, brighter guest rooms. David Bowie and Brad Pitt grace pillows on the beds (the hotel always tries to meet requests if you have a pillow-talk pal preference), offering quick-witted and quirky accoutrements to slick city interiors.
Expect an edgy, industrial feel inside the 1910 property.
Expect an edgy, industrial feel, softened here and there by stacks of second-hand books (Plato, if you fancy), rotary telephones, soft-underfoot kilim rugs and old maps of Seattle neighbourhoods. TVs sit on artsy easels and - blissfully - there are plug points right next to the bed (boring, but we're so done with jumping out of bed to switch off phone alarms). Some might find the interiors a touch sparse, but given the US hospitality industry's famously underwhelming design ambitions, they measured up just fine for us.
We were in a King One Bedroom Suite, offering a spacious living area alongside the bedroom, with the two being divided by heavy wooden rolling doors. The bathroom was special: a claw-footed tub offers an easy warm-up when the weather's bad outside, as does the walk-in shower.
Ask for a waterfront-facing room to score a view. It's no 180-degree ocean vista, but you'll enjoy glimpses of blue breaking up the city's gritty skyline, and front-row seats to the urban safari on the street below.
What's for breakfast?
The speakeasy Pennyroyal serves up weekend brunches, but we missed out on our weekday visit.
How about lunch and dinner?
The restaurant, Shaker + Spear, is a lesson in the Pacific Northwest larder. It's less farm-to-table in ethos, more sea-to-sauté. Start with ocean-kissed oysters; try the miso-doused Hood Canal clams; and don't miss a plate of scallops with a huckleberry gastrique. Interiors, meanwhile, are how Muji might design a restaurant - all glass, wood and backlit shelves lined with equidistantly placed curios. Pray you have Brent as your server; his knowledge of Washington wines and congenial ordering suggestions were all we could talk about on a post-prandial city walk.
Is there a bar?
Yes, the dimly lit and moody Pennyroyal serves up excellent cocktails over a marble bar. And you've got many of Seattle's craft breweries a short walk away, too.
Those bikes in the lobby? Guests can take them for a spin if they're in need of a city steed. The lobby is also where staff host daily evening socials, offering cocktails and chat, as well as complimentary coffee in the morning. The hotel has a small fitness centre open 24/7 and yoga mats in all rooms. Valet parking is available, at £39 overnight.
How about their green credentials?
Like all Kimpton hotels, the Palladian adheres to the IHG Green Engage Programme, which includes the use of energy-efficient lighting and water-efficient plumbing. We like Kimpton's commitment to restoring older buildings, too.
What about accessibility?
A range of variously sized rooms offer adapted space for wheelchair users. Communal spaces are also accessible, as is the gym.
What's the crowd?
A fair few business bros, and couples on city breaks. Dogs, too (expect Fido to be offered a bed, bowl and plenty of treats).
Things I should know
In what feels like a miss, WiFi is pay-to-use and costs £10.50 per day (unless you're part of the IHG Rewards Club, in which case it's free).
Within a short walk I can find…
Seattle's famous Pike Place Market. It might be in every guidebook going, but the city's four-storey market hall is still worth a look. Head around the back to find hole-in-the-wall Ghost Alley Espresso, beside the city's famously gross Gum Wall. A seasonal latte from here will guard against the Pacific Northwest's famously grey skies.
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