The Artful Alexis Hotel

Located in the heart of Seattle’s Pioneer Square, the Alexis Hotel wins high praises from people and pooches alike.
Written by Deanna Duff | Photography by Tushna Lehman | Click on images to enlarge
The Alexis Hotel welcomes all guests as personal friends—a warm smile, a kind word and maybe even a wet nose and wagging tail. In the lobby, a colorful, chalkboard sign greets canine guests by name, “Welcome Bear! Welcome Bella!” and don’t be surprised to receive a welcome “woof” at the front desk.

“We treat our dogs just like we treat our guests,” says Jenne Neptune, Alexis’ general manager. “We want all dogs to feel welcome, comfortable and have fun just like we hope their owners do.”

In the lobby, you’ll often see two- and four-legged guests mingling. Staff members are frequently accompanied by their canine companions, and the furry friends sometimes lend a paw and help register guests at reception. Upon arrival, visiting pooches are provided with treats and leopard-print dog beds which match the Alexis’ signature bath robes. Such pampering is why famous faces—such as pop star Rihanna and her toy poodle—have chosen the Alexis.

The Alexis, a Kimpton hotel, is located on the edge of Pioneer Square in downtown Seattle. Built in 1901, the building was a hub for Klondike Gold Rush business. The current hotel underwent an extensive renovation in 2007, updating its 121 guest rooms and creating a cool, cosmopolitan vibe. The DNA of the building, however, remains apparent thanks to original, exposed brick walls and arched windows. Remnants of the city’s 19th-century storefronts—part of “Underground Seattle”—are visible via the hotel’s underground parking garage.

“There are architectural details that you don’t see in a lot of the modern hotels. It makes the building really unique and beautiful,” says Neptune. Minus one dog-free guest floor, canine visitors of all sizes are welcome throughout the hotel. “My parents have a Leonberger named Caliber,” says Neptune. “He’s about as big as they come, around 150 pounds, and loves visiting.”

With nine types of rooms, accommodations are spacious and include amenities ranging from wood-burning fireplaces to hand-crafted, four-poster beds. Rooms are animated with pops of color—apple-red lamps, neon flower vases, a rainbow of pillows. Many spaces showcase breathtaking views of Elliott Bay and the downtown landscape.

The hotel is dedicated to “the art of living” and the philosophy is evident throughout. The “Gallery Art Walk” features permanent and rotating art collections spotlighting Northwest artists. Individual rooms are decorated with special attention to the arts—visual, literary, music and more.

“Several of our executive suites are dedicated to local art entities such as Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB), Experience Music Project (EMP), Seattle Art Museum (SAM) and KMTT (radio station). The organizations provided items and helped decorate,” says Neptune.

The one-of-a-kind suites reflect Seattle’s diverse arts communities. The PNB suite boasts oversized artwork of dancers defying gravity and autographed pointe shoes. KMTT’s room features guitars signed by bands such as Coldplay and the BoDeans, and EMP’s suite, new as of 2012, includes vintage concert posters and a hallway-long mural of graffiti art. For SAM, a museum curator selects artwork which changes quarterly. Additional options include the Seattle Symphony and Canlis Glass suites.

Thanks to the décor, visitors can obtain a sense of Seattle without ever leaving the hotel. However, the Alexis also offers options for hands-on exploration. If you’re inspired by the artwork, expand your horizons with a free day pass to SAM. It’s within walking distance or take one of the Alexis’ complimentary bicycles for a spin. Available in the lobby, the vintage-style two-wheelers are designed by Ballard-based Dutch Bike Co. and come with helmets and bike locks.

Another popular, fresh-air activity are the twice-weekly runs guided by hotel employees. Offered on Wednesdays and Fridays, the 3.5-5 mile excursions trace the waterfront. Dogs are welcome and Harrison, the four-legged friend of an Alexis staff member, often joins. For a leashed, self-guided stroll, nearby Occidental Park is filled with activity and fun.

If canine companions feel more like lounging than exercising, the Alexis can arrange for in-room dog-sitting. However, “Probably 90% of the time guests just bring dogs to the lobby and we watch them behind the front desk,” says Neptune.

After working up an appetite from sightseeing, the Library Bistro and Bookstore Bar offer something for every taste. Seattle native Chef David Hatfield arrived at the Alexis in November 2011 and has rapidly cultivated a menu of clean-your-plate, mouthwatering deliciousness.

“The bacon is to die for. I love it!” says Neptune of the house-made bacon, good on its own or as the divine inspiration behind the Library Bistro’s bacon cinnamon rolls.

Chef Hatfield’s talent for taste is also informed by a dedication to sustainability. He uses locally-sourced food whenever possible. As of spring 2012, many ingredients are only an elevator ride away. The Alexis’ rooftop garden supplies herbs and vegetables such as zucchini, tomatoes, chives, tarragon and more.

Chef Hatfield also partners with the Pike Brewing Company and utilizes their spent beer grains to make the Library Bistro’s breakfast granola. Mixed with oats, a variety of nuts, honey and more, it is the all-time tastiest and healthiest start to your day.

The Library Bistro has an old-world, supper club charm thanks to high-backed booths, warm woods and leather throughout. Both the Library Bistro and Bookstore Bar are aptly named courtesy of towering bookshelves which line the walls. The Alexis is overflowing with thousands of books ranging from historical medical anthologies to Henry James novels. Visitors are encouraged to browse and read or buy any book for $5. For serious bibliophiles, the Author Suite is hardcover heaven. The Alexis is a popular destination for renowned authors who autograph their editions, which are included in the suite’s permanent library.

At the Bookstore Bar, patrons can nosh on the signature Wild Boar or Lamb Burgers—meats are hand ground—and sample one of the 150 available whiskeys. Monthly whiskey tastings are held every third Monday. After a flight of whiskeys, grab one of the many available board games—Pictionary, Clue or Jenga—for a particularly “spirited” game!

“We understand what our values are at the Alexis. Whether it’s sustainability with our rooftop garden, being eco-friendly or encouraging a general sense of wellness by welcoming pets, these are the things we’re passionate about,” says Neptune.

From literary tales to wagging tails, a visit to the Alexis is an occasion to celebrate.

More Information
The Alexis Hotel
1007 1st Avenue South
Seattle, Wash. 98104

For more dog-friendly places in Pioneer Square, read our Dog's Eye View here.
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