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Hotel Ändra

by Katarina Polonsky

For a boutique hotel experience in Seattle, look no further than Hotel Ändra. Voted amongst the top hotels in downtown Seattle by Fodor’s, Smarter Travel and USA Today’s 10 Best, this is an elegant yet chilled out venue well worth rooting your Seattle experience in. Situated ideally in the heart of Belltown (the chic ‘downtown’ area of Seattle), a stones throw from the famed Pike Place market, stunning Seattle waterfront, and iconic ferris wheel, it’s the perfect place to come back to after a weekend of indulging and sightseeing across Seattle. For those that haven’t been to Seattle – Belltown is the spot for delicious dining destinations, live music, art and oodles of history. Of course, the Spaceneedle is a short gander away.

In typical Seattle fashion, though, there is more than meets the eye to Hotel Ändra. This is not just a boutique hotel – this is the home of a bustling, popular restaurant, Lola, and year-round cooking school, the Hot Stove Society, operated by Tom Douglas Restaurants. Seattle’s most celebrated chef and restauranteur, it is telling that he has chosen this hotel to base his cooking school in. The hotel has 119 stylish guestrooms, each boutique and beautiful, plus various plush spaces for meetings and events. With names like ‘the Northern Lights Room’, these are sophisticated abodes for weddings, dinners, celebrations, or even board meetings. One can pair their event with exclusive catering by Tom Douglas, or choose their own, ensuring that this hotel is truly able to satisfy all. There is also a beautiful Loft space, a mezzanine above the lobby where one can escape for true serenity, peace, and quiet.

Boutique because it is small and unique, but also because it is a breath of fresh air in this Pacific North Western city with its Scandinavian feel. “Ändra” means “change” in Swedish, and one can certainly feel a change as they escape the frenetic pace of Fourth Avenue and step into the serene, Scandinavian interior of Hotel Ändra – fireplaces and sofas in all the right spots. It emanates not just a change in vibe, but also a change in the history of Seattle: the building was originally open in 1926 as efficiency apartments, and then became a transfer station for members of the Women’s Army Corps from 1945-1947. Becoming a hotel only in the 1970s, Andra’s space epitomises change: from housing Seattle’s nascent gender equality changes and women’s movement, to bringing European elegance into an American city, it is simply a truly boutique hotel.

Stepping into the hotel, one is transported back to the city’s Nordic roots: with prominent use of water, wood, and stone, muted browns and natural tones, the Scandinavian feel is prominent in a perfectly Pacific Northwestern way. It is at once different yet familiar, foreign yet firmly American. Arguably, a perfect representation of everything Seattle stands for, a new and liberal city built by immigrants in an ancient, lush land.

The lobby area, with its beautiful fireplace, is a cocoon of rich brown woods, walnut and maple tones, wool rugs and clean stone features. The fireplace, with it blazing embers, is set against split-grain granite, nestled into a towering bookshelf of old and new texts on Scandinavian culture, Northwest cuisine, culture, and things to do. Colourful glass vases litter the shelves, adding floral life to the woody scene. The wooden floor, distressed and rugged, reflects the wilderness of the Pacific NorthWest, whilst the low, warm sofas and leather ottoman cubes amidst the wooden tables (recycled from actual fallen Seattle trees) create a woodland ambience that lends itself to the Scandinavian retreat vibe. A natural space to recline in, the lobby reflects the cosy atmosphere of the hotel at large, with the vast maple and walnut front desk set upon a glass floor reinforcing the sense of floating on the ocean outside. Meanwhile, the art behind the front desk is beautiful, and the staff kind.

Above the lobby, there is that mezzanine space, the “Loft”. A short, meandering staircase of metal and wood to the left of the front desk takes you to an exposed loft area. Separated from the lobby only by way of sheer elevation and a minimalist glass and steel railing, this wide open space, with its large contemporary salon chairs designed by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, is at once homely and intimate, vast and expansive. Aimed at the soul purpose of socialising and get-togethers, this feels even more of a retreat. Who doesn’t love a secret tree-house?

The bedrooms are equally restorative. Large, warm, and filled with muted, earthy colours (think: mahogany, maple, walnut and cream), with comfortable large beds, televisions, a kitchen area, these feel more like studio apartments than hotel rooms. The expansive walk-in wardrobe emanates luxury whilst the clean, minimalist bathroom with its powerful shower screams Scandinavian sophistication. Fittingly contemporary for the Swedish style of the hotel, yet aptly American with its studio-style amenities, Hotel Ändra comes out as a clear boutique winner of a hotel.

Hotel Ändra’s combination of earthy, Pacific North Western warmth, cool Scandinavian style, and contemporary American features marks it as a truly unique and boutique hotel in the heart of downtown Seattle. For a city retreat and get-away that really represents the best of what this beautiful part of the world has to offer, why would you look anywhere else?

Hotel Ändra
2000 4th Avenue
WA 98121

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