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The Westin Bellevue

by Katarina Polonsky

Some of my favourite hotels globally have been under the Westin brand, the Westin Dubai being one of my most loved hotels to frequent (oh, that grand piano, the Arabic oud, that opulent marble and those billowing silks…). It’s no wonder, then, that the Westin Bellevue proved to be a most excellent space to stay to explore this new up and coming city. With AAA Four-Diamond awards encrusted to its name, this award-winning hotel has an unbeatable location (as most Westin hotels do), right in the heart of downtown Bellevue. Next door is the esteemed Art Gallery, across the road a brilliantly large shopping mall. Behind it? The designer mall. Surrounding it? Endless bars, restaurants, and entertainment spots. A short drive across the bridge from Seattle and just a stones throw away from the beautiful botanical gardens, one couldn’t find a better location. Oh, and there are wineries just 10-15 min drive up North. Yum.

Even when it is raining, as it tends to in the Pacific North West, the Westin is still the place to be. Connected to the outside world via a series of covered bridges (one can make their way to the cinema or the shopping mall without having to step outside – very Dubai), there is also a heated indoor pool and Jacuzzi, exceptionally equipped Fitness Studio (one can hire gym kit for just $5 – no excuses), superb spa, and lively restaurant and bar. There are 337 guest rooms and suites, most with lakeside views, and each room, in typical Westin fashion, comes with a Westin Heavenly® Bed and 55-inch flat screen TV. There’s also a Heavenly® Bath to bring a spa-like beginning or end to your day. Come rain or shine, there’s plenty to do.Arriving late on a Friday night from Vancouver, we were warmed by the kind staff and their affectionate welcome. Our room was spacious and airy, with a magnificent view onto the Seattle skyline with its stunning space needle in the distance, above the beautiful Lake Washington. Surrounded by the Pacific North West’s pinetrees that we have so grown to love, the hotel room felt like a home away from home before we knew it. We reclined that first night with a bottle of local wine and film on our large TV to have a cosy night in.

Waking up after a restful sleep, we decided to brunch that morning at Lot No.3, an American gastropub just across the road offering a delicious brunch menu. A vintage-industrial inspired space, with a warm, old-school Seattle feel, this bustling restaurant was packed (and no wonder, given the sheer size of the beautiful Bloody Marys we could see). Offering spirits, a late-night menu, and outdoor seating area, this all-day restaurant with its all-American cuisine was the perfect start to our all-American weekend in Seattle. We started with the Cinnamon Roll, a warm, giant roll oozing in melted cream cheese icing, whilst we enjoyed two fresh endless-refill coffees. For the mains, I had the Smoked Salmon Benedict, a dish of two poached eggs, avocado, lemon-dill hollandaise, fried capers and toasted english muffin. Very decadent, yet not overwhelming so, this millennial take on a class dish by way of avocado making an appearance was delicious – and filling enough that I didn’t need to touch the vast expanse of potatoes on the side. (Though perhaps it was all the delicious cinnamon roll I’d eaten before.) My guest had the Lentil Hash, a somewhat more wholesome and nutritious bowl of roasted cauliflower, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, winter greens, cauliflower purée and a fried egg. Given the speed with which he devoured this dish, he evidently enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed mine. With a few more top ups of coffee, we left Lot No. 3 feeling satisfied, buzzing, and ready to take on the day.Our afternoon consisted of a trip to the Bellevue Botanical Gardens, a surprisingly large spread of (free) outdoor gardens akin to a mini rainforest that’s worth a wander through for an hour or two if you enjoy nature, and a trip to the Westin Hotel Spa – Truce. Created by Carol Loya, this Westin-oasis offers a candle lit lounge within the spa, series of private treatment rooms, nail salon, and infrared sauna. Offerings are based on a combination of ancient traditions (candlelight rituals before each massage, and essential oils, for example), as well as luxurious tropical botanicals (including CBD oil treatments). My guest and I arrived at 1.45pm for a massage treatment each, and enjoyed a 15 minute pre-massage reprieve in the candlelit lounge with hot teas beforehand. The relaxation kicking in already, I arrived to my massage with a mission to destress and decompress. I wasn’t disappointed. Much to my wry European amusement, I could have a CBD oil massage to amp up the anxiety relief and relaxation, though was warned that it would leave a pungent smell I’d (most likely) want to wash off. Without wanting to alarm my partner, I decided to opt for the more classical essential oil treatment and chose a relaxing lavender and coconut blend to experience. The massage began with a minute long candle-lighting ritual to centre me and set my intention (to relax!) and soon after, I was on the heated massage bed, waiting to begin. With the hour flying by, and my masseuse delivering an excellent job on untangling all my knots, I left the massage room smiling dazily with a glass of white wine before finding myself bundled into the infrared sauna, where I found my partner looking equally comatose. Leaning back into the wooden panels, we mulled over our deliciously relaxed we both felt, and finished our wine.Had we been slightly more disciplined, we could have enjoyed the pool at the Westin that afternoon – a long, lap-friendly indoor pool with an outdoor patio to re-energise and work out in. Instead, we chose to shower and dress before heading out to the local shops at Bellevue Square for some afternoon browsing before dinner. Dinner was at the John Howie steakhouse, a fantastic old-school venue that I write about in the dining section (see here). We ended our night with a few cocktails too many at the W Hotel prohibition bar across the road, and the Living Room bar, a lovely London-esque style space full of stylish guests, raucous laughter, a house DJ, and champagne cocktails. An excellent end to the evening.

We slept well, as to be expected, and spent the Sunday morning lounging in the hotel room enjoying the late check out of 2pm. We finished our weekend with a luscious lunch at The Lakehouse restaurant, also at the W Hotel across the road before driving home via the Charles Smith winery in Seattle. Sad to leave the second home that had become the Westin Hotel, we left with happy hearts (and hungover heads – the W Hotel really made an impression), glad to have ventured to Bellevue. If you can get yourself to this special part of the world, do. Just make sure you stay at the Westin if you can – you won’t find a better base to explore Bellevue from.

The Westin Bellevue
600 Bellevue Way NE
WA 98004

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