Near Mount Rainier, we stayed at the Copper Creek Inn, which provides an unusual “do it yourself” experience in hospitality. You pay the cost upfront—not unknown in online booking online—but then they send you an access code and directions for getting into your room. That is, you never check in: You get there and let yourself into the building, then into the room. The all-important wifi password is posted on the wall, and any other documentation you might need is also in the room.
No one makes your bed or gives you fresh towels for the second day, either (though apparently, if we had stayed a third day, that would have happened). And when you’re ready to leave—you guessed it—you don’t check out; you just leave.
It was odd, but fine. The room was really cute, with a seating area, apart from the bedroom, and even a small hot tub. It also had some nice touches like an iPod dock.
And, it was right above a restaurant. The placed focused on more “homey” food like potatoes and pie, but on our first supper there, we concluded that everything was quite good. Our waitress was also great. We were hemming and hawing over which Washington wine to try, so she brought a tasting portion of all five house reds! (All quite decent, and we settled on a blend.) We also found the prices really reasonable—$90 for two fish entrees, which came with soup or salad, two pieces of pie, and the bottle of wine.
So except for one lunch in the park cafeteria, we ate all our Rainier meals there—breakfast and dinner.
Lake Crescent Lodge, at Olympic Park, had a beautiful setting:
But we almost had crisis there, because we didn’t have wifi in our room! We knew about the no TV or phones (staff there communicated via walkie-talkie), but no wifi? That’s crazy! (I was also out of cell phone range, so that was no help.)
Fortunately, we found that there was wifi at the main lodge. Not as convenient, but enough to feed the addiction. 🙂
Our room at Lake Crescent featured cool-looking wood furniture, but was overall more barren than at Copper Creek. They were very environmentally focused: It was the first hotel room I’d ever seen with a compost along with a recycle bin. Possibly related, the shower water temperature was somewhat… Uneven. But it was otherwise a comfortable place to stay.
And the food at their restaurants, my friends… That was good stuff!
Meals there admittedly tended to be more than $90 for dinner, but it was a more gourmet approach than Copper Creek, as per this fancy plate presentation:
And the items generally tasted as good as they looked. Particular standouts were their roasted Brussel sprouts and boar bacon appetizer, the crab Hollandaise breakfast (Jean had that), the pictured Heirloom tomato appetizer, and the seared scallops with lemon foam:
We ate all our meals at that restaurant, while in the park.
In Seattle itself we stayed at The Maxwell Hotel, a very modern-looking place with a bright colour scheme. Our room was quite spacious and had all the amenities one could want, including open wifi (though that was a little flaky at times).
They also had pretty friendly staff, offered free cupcakes daily (tiny but good), and the food at the bar restaurant was considerably better than we’d expected it to be.
But that was the only meal we ate there. We were in Seattle! Too many other options to explore.
- Breakfast daily was at a cafe three blocks down, that the hotel staff recommended. I don’t seem to have noted its name, but it was very good, offering a lot of crepes.
- Local 360 had a menu focused on ingredients from within 100 miles (or something like that). It was also the first restaurant I’d been to that wouldn’t seat us until the other two members of our party arrived, Hmm. And, the print on its menu was too small for me to read by candlelight. Grumble.
But on the plus side, food was good—weirdly, I started with a cheese plate while Jean had salad—and the waiter was very helpful with wine suggestions (given I couldn’t read the menu myself!).
- Black Bottle was an excellent tapas restaurant. The highlight were the clams in garlic sauce, rivaling those we’d had in Spain, but no complaints about any dishes, which included deep-fried olives, raw oysters, and lemon tart on a lavender crust. On arrival, we feared the place would be too noisy, but they sat us in back where the volume was quite reasonable.
- The Chihuly Museum had a good restaurant in it, the Collection Cafe, which was quite convenient for lunch on our “running around to museums” day in Seattle. With museum entry, you got a free small appetizer or dessert with your meal.
- La Vita e Bella was a very enjoyable Italian restaurant, with generous serving sizes and very well-prepared food, Jean had a rigatoni with chanterelle mushrooms in white wine sauce, which was very delicious. I couldn’t resist having fish again, so went with their fresh halibut special.
- Cafe Presse, in the Capitol Hill area, effectively revived memories of our trips to France with its menu of rillettes, fromage, and olives marinés. (Our French pronunciation on ordering threw the waiter off a bit, though! Menu items really were in French, but with English descriptions.) We ordered only appetizers, but still ended up with too much food. All good, though. And French wine.
Making several of these meals more special was that we had another couple joining us! (And we even got a delicious, home-cooked brunch out of the deal.)
E. and I were matched as “pen pals” (remember those?) many years ago, when we were both around 13, via some teen magazine. I had quite a few pen pals back in those pre-email / Facebook days, and some of those correspondences endured for years. But only this one has endured to this day.
This was the first time we’d spent any amount of time together “in person”, filling in those details of real life that you’re never going to write each other about. And, it was the first opportunity to get to know E.’s husband in his own words, not hers. It was great. Jean commented after the first meeting how comfortable it all was. By the end of the trip, he was musing that spending time with them might have been his favorite activity of all.