Seattle is a beacon for travelers who dream of the Space Needle or a trip to Safeco Field or Pike Place Market, a gathering spot for coffee drinkers and cyclists and tree-huggers. It is not, however, a city that coasts on its reputation for superb lodging. Yes, you'll find a Four Seasons and a W and the high-tech Hotel 1000, but what about rooms for the merely mortal?
My husband, Steve, and I flew to Seattle at the end of November to begin a short trip through the Pacific Northwest. Our only requirement was a desire to stay somewhere relatively close to the Washington Park area, where longtime friends (and our first-night dinner dates) live. We didn’t want to spend a small fortune, and we don’t have a problem with cozy, as long as cozy doesn’t morph into overly cute. That’s how we ended up at the Bacon Mansion Bed & Breakfast.
The mansion — and it is a mansion — sits atop the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, about halfway between downtown and Washington Park. The B&B, built in 1909 in a style that is best described as Tudor and was restored after a 1984 fire, has 11 guest rooms, as varied as the enormous Capitol Suite (with a king-size bed, a queen in an attached sun room, three couches and a great many places to read) and a couple of airy dormer rooms that share a bathroom.
Bed and breakfasts aren't for everyone. A colleague who heard about our travel plans sneered at the term “B&B,” adding: “I don’t want sherry in the afternoon. And I want my own bathroom.” In truth, we saw no evidence of sherry at the Bacon Mansion, and most of the guest rooms have a bathroom en suite. The overriding impression? Comfort.
The public rooms seemed to belong to a long-ago era, but not in a musty, dusty way. The spacious parlor was welcoming. Proprietor Daryl King, who gave us a tour, pointed to the grand piano and said, “You’re welcome to play.” The furniture in the public rooms included couches and chairs clad in leather or covered in something that looked suspiciously like chintz. At different times of the day guests stretched out with a book in hand or chatted on their cellphones, using their indoor voices.
Breakfast was served from 8:30-9:30 a.m. (coffee and tea service starts at 7:30) in a large dining room where the table easily seats 14. During our stay, it was covered with an enormous cloth in autumnal hues. King proudly showed us a large, handsome, remodeled kitchen with granite countertops and cherry cabinets, three sinks, two dishwashers, three ovens and a butler’s pantry. The facilities seemed well suited for a medium-size dinner party or a small wedding, both of which occur at the Bacon Mansion.
As for the breakfast, it was standard fare: juice, coffee, tea, yogurt, fruit and granola spread out on a buffet near the dining room table. Bacon Mansion is not a destination for travelers who aspire to customized omelets and potatoes cooked in duck fat. It is, however, a place where a traveler might pass a basket of muffins to a proud father from Fresno who explained he was in town to attend his daughter’s senior recital at the Cornish College of the Arts. (An invitation to that night’s performance followed.)
The main building on the grounds of the Bacon Mansion is about 8,000 square feet on four levels. Across a patio, a carriage house includes two separate rooms, one of which is a loft, once a chauffeur’s residence. Any flora that hadn’t shed its leaves was still green during our stay. A few trees were covered with something that looked suspiciously like moss, more evidence of the drizzle that was our constant companion.
We stayed in the Capitol Suite ($174 to $239 a night, double occupancy), a 1,000-square-foot space conducive to reading and contemplation. A large cabinet housed a TV, but we never turned it on. The bathroom, according to the website, is mostly original and looked like it. Which is not to say it was inadequate. But a guest hoping for 21st century hotel luxury, complete with botanical shampoo and conditioner, would be disappointed. On the other hand, the sun porch included a small refrigerator and a microwave, useful when hunger pangs required a late-night feeding.
We peeked into other rooms, including the Rose Room ($124 to $169), a smaller but nicely appointed space, also on the second floor. Like the Capitol Suite, the Rose Room had a lot of wood — a desk, a side table, woodwork framing the doors — but the bed was brass and somehow the ensemble worked. Like the Capitol Suite, it felt almost as though you were staying in someone’s home. (The dormer rooms are the least expensive, at $104 to $134 for double occupancy.)
Amenities are limited. There isn’t a mini-bar or vending machine stocked with expensive snacks in sight. There are no signs pointing to the rooftop pool and cabanas. No sense of irony. Rather, this B&B is for travelers who appreciate a little history, a leisurely pace and the quiet charm of the proprietor.
Contact: Bacon Mansion, 959 Broadway E.; Seattle, Wash. 98102; (206) 329-1864 or (800) 240-1864.