Monday, May 30, 2011

The W Hotel, Seattle

While attending the ceremonious delivery of a new Boeing 777-300ER aircraft to Cathay Pacific Airways in Everett, Washington, I checked in to the W Hotel, in the heart of downtown Seattle. It was a generally comfortable, if occasionally quirky, stay.

First, the good stuff. The Seattle W has all of the Starwood urban chic brand's signature stylishness. Staying there, you feel you should be attending an art opening or a design and fashion-themed event. And, indeed, film festival attendees - all arty stubble, shaved heads and black garb - were checking in when I was there. Location is important, of course, and the W has a good one, close to downtown Seattle's symphonic hall, tourist attractions like Pike Market, good restaurants such as Wild Ginger and happening watering holes like Purple, a cafe and wine bar. The W's own in-house restaurany is good, too, serving inventive, hearty and flavorful breakfasts, among other things.

But - you knew there had to be a but - I do have one quibble, about the hotel's business center. Traveling without a laptop or other electronic device, I was leaning on the biz center to get some business done. This was not easy, due partly to the fact that the center has just two PCs for guests' use - in a 26-story, 415-room property - and chiefly to its restricted hours: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., with limited access otherwise. When I asked, at about 9 p.m., if I could use the center, a front-desk agent told me I'd have to have a tech-minded staff member go in there with me, and guess what?

"I don't think any of them are here,'' she said.


I did my work the next day, with a friendly but unaccountably curious W staffer hovering close by in the small business center.

With business travelers from many time zones arriving at all hours, you'd think an urban, midsized, self-consciously proud 21st century hotel would make it easy for their guests - as in providing 24/7 access. I'm at the Ritz-Carlton in Hong Kong now - that's where I am writing this post, in fact - and I was able to get in the unstaffed Ritz business center at 5:30 this morning by using my room key. That's what a smart, customer-friendly hotel does. W Seattle, please copy.

The W Hotel Seattle is located at 1112 Fourth Ave., Seattle, Washington 98101 USA, telephone 206.264.6000, Web:

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