After counting down the days and waiting a whole extra month after our anniversary, last month, we finally took our yearly anniversary trip!
This year, we decided to go on a cruise to Alaska and try to see the glaciers and Nordic animals before global warming wipes them all out. I’ll be telling the story of our cruise trip over the course of six individual trip reports, so stay tuned for the others as well!
In the meantime, I’ll cover our pre-cruise day, where we did a little exploring in the city of Seattle, our embarkation city for this particular cruise. We flew to Seattle directly from Austin on Southwest, and our flights were free as the hubby booked with points, and then I got my free ticket via our companion pass. If you’re keeping track, we’ve done 10 free roundtrip getaways on Southwest for the two of us since we re-qualified for Companion pass status last year. That comes out to 18 completely free tickets over a year and half time period (the hubby’s works paid for his flights for one trip).
As for hotel options, we were planning on arriving in Seattle the day before we boarded the cruise ship (which we always like to do, if for no other reason than to cut down on the stress of possibly not making all aboard time) and staying through the weekend after we disembarked as well. That meant we’d have two opportunities for hotel stays. In researching our options, I was particularly impressed with the reviews I’d seen about an independent boutique hotel called the Hotel 1000. It was billed as one of the most high-tech hotels around, and was located right in the heart of downtown Seattle, where I wanted to stay.
Unfortunately, being independent, the Hotel 1000 didn’t partner with any of the mainstream hotel loyalty programs. However, as we had a number of Chase Ultimate Rewards points available, I took a look at the rates via the Chase travel portal and was able to find a great price for a room at this hotel – and best of all, I could pay in points. So, I traded in 23,599 points for a night at the Hotel 1000, which normally runs about $600 a night. That means I got a redemption value of 2.5 cents per point, which was a pretty good deal.
The hotel was also helpful in getting us set up with a private car from the airport, as Uber and Lyft still aren’t allowed to pickup passengers at the SeaTac airport. In fact, everyone we dealt with on the hotel staff was very helpful and friendly.
That being said, our stay wasn’t without a couple problems. Our room, which we were told was an upgrade from the one we’d booked, was sufficient but the tv didn’t work and there was a large water stain under the air conditioning vent. These weren’t huge problems for us, as we were only staying in the hotel for a single night, and when we pointed them out to the hotel staff at checkout, they were very apologetic and actually comped our private car from the airport.
It’s also worth noting that Loews recently purchased the Hotel 1000, and in talking to a few of the staff members, they mentioned that so far it had been a good experience. If you happen to be part of the Loews YouFirst Loyalty program, even though it’s not a particularly beneficial loyalty program, I’d say it’d definitely worth considering this hotel. The location was fantastic, and at least for a short stay, sometimes that’s all that matters.
Once we were checked in to the hotel, and seeing how it magically wasn’t raining (a theme we’d see a lot of over the course of our trip!), we headed over to the Chihuly Gardens to explore the collection by the famous glass artist. While the museum is rather small and carries a hefty admission fee ($27 for an adult for an exhibit that only takes about 30 minutes to fully experience), the sculptures were magnificent, and it was interesting to learn a bit more about the artist’s life.
After the gardens, it was nearing dinner time, so we hopped in an Uber to Mamnoon, a middle Eastern restaurant specializing in Lebanese and Syrian style cuisine. Truth be told, we were hoping to recreate the magical culinary experience we’d had last year at Zahav in Philadelphia. While Mamnoon was tasty, it wasn’t quite at the Zahav level, even though it had several similar dishes.
Our favorite was the hummus bil awarma, followed by the shamndar bi tahini. All were served with a light and crispy pita bread. By the time our main course (greek yogurt and garlic marinated chicken) arrived, we were already quite full – one could easily make a meal of just their metzes.
Stuffed to the brim, we left Mamnoon and waddled down the Belltown streets towards Canon Whiskey & Bitters Emporium, a tiny, 24-seat bar housing one of the largest whiskey and bourbon collections in the world. Getting in to Canon can be a bit tricky as it’s so small – your best bet is to spring for one of the $25/pp reserved seats (which of course give you a $25 food and drink credit). However, we did see a few people who arrived early – before 8pm – that managed to earn a couple coveted seats at the bar.
At Canon, the hubby opted to let our waitress pick his bourbons after naming a few of his regular favorites for her. She brought him a couple rare varietals that were in the $30-40 per pour range, including a Willet 8-year that he particularly enjoyed. I stuck to the cocktail list and sampled the Khaleesi Cocktail, a mix of rye, bitters, and strawberry liquer served in a (Mother Of) dragon skull shaped glass.
With that, our first night in Seattle came to a close, and we headed back to our hotel. Check back soon for the next installment, my review of our cruise on the Celebrity Solstice!