Thursday, April 24, 2014

Hotel Vintage {Seattle} : A Hotel Review

We've stayed in Seattle many times over the years and we've come to find a few favorites of ours in terms of hotels in downtown Seattle.  We stayed at this hotel years ago and found it a little dark and dreary to say the least.  When this trip came around and I had points that could only be used here, so we figured we'd give it another try and we were so glad we did.  I think this will become our new favorite in the city after a beautiful renovation has totally transformed this hotel!

With that, I'm adding another hotel review to the Hotel Review Guide collection today which you can find on my sidebar.  The Hotel Guides now have their very own button in my Categories section.

The view from our room - Photo by Nick
When we stayed: April 2014  |  Price Range: $200/night (average for standard room)

Address: 1100 5th Ave, Seattle, WA 98101  |  Website: Hotel Vintage

As I mentioned above, this hotel has recently undergone a major renovation which has totally transformed a once dark and dreary hotel to a gorgeous modern masterpiece.  I loved everything about it and will definitely be back the next time we're in Seattle.

Check in - Check in was easy.  We valeted our car (one thing I love about the hotel is that they have a driveway to actually pull in to valet, not just on the side of the street like most Seattle hotels), and wandered into the lobby to a quick and easy check in, then on to our room.

Room - Our room was gorgeous with a beautiful view of the Seattle Public Library (a lovely modern building by Koolhaus) and was very big.  We remarked how the rooms used to be tiny in this hotel and our room had more than enough space to be comfortable.

Bathroom -  The bathroom was a good size and plenty of counterspace.

Design - I adore the new design of this hotel.  Featuring purples and moroccan prints, the design is fresh and modern with that touch of "design" I love.  It was a much better use of bringing out "wine colors" than previously when it was red on overload.  The patterns were my favorite from patterns in the carpeting in the hallways to gorgeous wood carved bed frames, it was lovely.

Photo by me.
Overall Impressions - I really enjoyed our stay at this hotel and will most definitely be back again when we make it up to Seattle next.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Weekend in Seattle

A couple weekends ago, Nick and I drove up to Seattle (which is only a 2.5 hour drive for us) and spent the weekend in the city.  I was taking my certification exam up there all day on Saturday so we drove up Friday after work and spent a lovely Spring evening wandering around downtown Seattle. We ate at one of our favorite restaurants and took in the gorgeous warm evening.  Saturday, I was at the Art Institute of Seattle all day for my Practicum exam (basically 8 straight hours of drafting), followed by dinner at Palomino downtown, one of our favorite Seattle spots, and a quick stop through the brand new Zara before heading back to our hotel for an early night in after a very long day.  Sunday we had brunch with my brother who lives in the area at the delicious Toulousse Petit in Queen Anne (thanks for the recommendation Erica!), which was delicious and then got on the road to head home.

It was a quick weekend but a lovely one at that.  I always enjoy visiting Seattle and we got lucky with beautiful Spring weather and a nice little escape.  We stayed at the recently renovated Kimpton hotel Vintage Park, which was fantastic and a hotel review will be on the horizon for that, but for now, here are a few photos from the weekend and some that Nick took while I was at my test all day and he wandered around the city!

The gorgeous view from our hotel room including a view of the Seattle Public Library designed by Koolhaus.

The Experience Music Project by one of my favorite architects : Frank Gehry.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Travel Tips : Booking Emergency Flights

Last week, we got word that a family member had passed away in Medford, Oregon (about a 5 hour drive South of us).  When we found out when the funeral was going to be, Nick and I scrambled to find a way to be there.  At first (on a Monday evening), it didn't look like we were going to be able to make it due to schedules and flights (because we'd only be able to be there for the day due to committments and it's too far to drive for that).  But on a second look the following day, we figured out a way to make it work.  Sometimes there are things that you just have to make it for and you have to book flights/transit at the last minute to be there which can prove very difficult.  Here are a few tips to make the booking and whole trip for an emergency a little easier.

This is something that isn't well known, but most airlines will offer a bereavement rate for airfare.  It might not necessarily be cheaper than a normal fare but it's more flexible, so if you need to change it last minute or book super last minute, it can be really helpful.  It's worth making the phone call to the airlines to ask about this option before you book, because you never know if it might end up being your best option.

For us, we immediately went for our miles to fly down to Medford.  We fly Alaska down there and always keep a stash of Alaska miles in our accounts which worked out really well for this last minute trip.  We ended up still having to pay some for the trip, but it was way cheaper than having to pay for the entire last minute fare which was really high.  

For a last minute situation like an emergency, airline mileage can become a really valuable thing.  If you have MVP or elite status, this can also help you as well with getting a seat, even on planes that are mostly full.

We originally looked at our fares on a Monday evening and the flight we needed to be on coming home (as we had another previous commitment that night back here in Portland) wasn't even showing up with any available seats.  However, when I checked back the following morning, 4 seats had opened up.  Whether this is due to cancelations or seats maybe being on hold and then opened up, sometimes checking back the following day can make a big difference on availability.  

Traveling in case of a family emergency can be stressful enough, so being flexible with flights and planning for the unexpected can be helpful.  Know that things might go wrong, flights may be delayed, connections missed, so just be ready to be flexible.  Especially booking last minute, you might not get the perfect times or connections, so be ready to just go with it.

Our flight home on Friday ended up being delayed due to a mechanical issue.  Luckily we could call and book ourselves on the next flight (to confirm we'd get home that night) as well as rescheduling our commitments that we had that night back in Portland.  Use the technology available to you such as smartphones to rebook things that might come up spur of the moment and just know ahead of time that things might not go exactly as planned.

Because traveling in case of an emergency can be hard emotionally, don't worry about hiding that.  In fact, you may just find that people around you will help pick up the slack if you need.  Be honest with airlines or airport security about why you're flying if it's going to make things easier.  They might be more prone to help you or let you board early for example, if you're honest about the reason for your trip.

Monday, April 21, 2014

En Route To...

I'm off to Hawaii to start a very busy travel week.  I'll be taking in a few days on the Islands for work, catching up on a few different projects and spending some time with my parents.  Make sure to follow along on Instagram for some snaps of the beach and palm trees!  In a week filled with travel, I'll be returning home later this week, to then turn around and head down to New Mexico for the weekend, so be sure to follow along!