roomless in seattle: playing hotel roulette sometimes shoots you in the foot

seattleI’ve been trying to find the perfect hotel in Seattle for next weekend. Yes, next weekend. See, I thought I had the perfect hotel picked out for me and my family months ago. In fact, I had two hotels booked in case one proved a better choice than the other. But then my family started weighing in, and the hotel on Lake Union or the one at the very edge of upper downtown/lower Queen Anne proved to be not what they were looking for. My husband is usually OK with whatever I pick, but this time even he said, “If we’re going to be near downtown, why not actually be within walking distance to everything?”

And you know what? He was right. After getting into town exhausted, as I’m sure we will be, why not be amid the action? Why not be able to walk out the door and find a great restaurant and not have to worry about driving back to the hotel and finding parking? Or why not be able to  get up early the next morning and check out the city, the actual city, as it wakens, walking down to the waterfront, sampling coffeeshops or waiting in the long line at the original Starbucks, or, even better, watching the fish throwers at Pike Place?

So off I went, hunting down the perfect hotel, a daunting task because none exists. Either the rooms are too small, the housekeeping staff cleans like a bunch of teenagers, the front desk fails, the check-in is like the line to get into hell, the parking fee could feed a family of four in Malaysia for a month, the noise from the elevator sounds like pigs being dragged to their deaths, or the view is of a brick wall. But let’s be honest, my real problem isn’t finding a perfect hotel. I’m super good at comparing and contrasting numerous places, searching every search engine, and scouring websites for the best deals. I go on Google maps to find the street view and get a feel of what it’s like to walk the streets around the hotel. No, I’m a seasoned hunter and gatherer of hotel rooms. My real problem is trying to please everyone else. Like a lot of women, I am a people pleaser.

Two days ago, when I thought I’d found the “perfect” spot, right in the middle of the Pike Pine retail core, i.e., the shopping mecca of Seattle, just blocks from Pike Place and a shortish walk to the Space Needle, I hesitated, as I’m wont to do, and my perfect hotel filled up. Because the hotel chain is running a “second day at 40 percent off” deal, everyone and her sister is booking the Friday night of the Thursday-Friday-night combo I need. Panicking, I called the hotel (yes, directly to Seattle instead of Mumbai, India, or wherever the 800 number takes you) because when I was in the middle of booking, with my personal info and credit card number input, I got a message saying the dates were unavailable or there was ongoing website maintenance or both. The nice woman at the hotel confirmed that there were no rooms available. She suggested one of the other nearby hotels in the chain, which are more expensive and have exorbitant parking fees (as if “my” hotel’s $57 was a bargain!), I might add, but I booked at one of the others anyway and continued trying to book at the perfect spot. The hotel rep had suggested I keep checking as rooms get cancelled “all the time.” So I tried later that night, but still nothing.

The next morning, I gave it another shot and what a surprise! A suite opened up and it was under $400 a night. Yes, people, that is a good price in the heart of Seattle in the middle of tourist season (if only Washington and Oregon kids started school in August like the rest of America instead of after Labor Day), and one week before my visit. I did the same as the previous day: put in my info, my hotel club number, my credit card number, my third child’s middle name, clicked on the Review button, and once again was told that I was too late.

I ended up booking at a nearby hotel, cancelling the overpriced sister hotel I’d booked the day before. But the hotel I booked at doesn’t have the glowing reviews of the one I wanted, nor does it offer the breakfast I was hoping for, but it did have a room when I needed it–and free wine in the evenings, which I will need as well. But I didn’t stop at booking one room there. I booked a room with two queens and then another room later in the day that’s a suite and will fit all five of us. For $90 more a night (which is a lot, I know, but…), I figure we would each get a bed to sleep in instead of someone having to sleep on the floor. There are a few perks at this hotel, too (did I mention the wine?), although it sounds as if it’s trying to please a younger, hipper crowd than I mingle with on a regular basis. But at least I have a couple young adults with me who will appreciate it, I suppose. The teenager will be left out and middle-aged me and my husband, too, but you know, you can’t please everyone all the time. I hope I can remember that next time I’m booking a hotel.

Now if only I can make it not rain….



One thought on “roomless in seattle: playing hotel roulette sometimes shoots you in the foot

  1. Good post. I have done the same and have waited too long to book and lost a great opportunity. Hopefully, hotel no. 2 will work out for you.

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