Several years ago, I was booking a hotel visit for Alaina and myself as one of our first trips to what would eventually become our hometown of Bristol. The property in question had a special requests section on their booking form, and when I asked the woman I would one day marry what she would like, she suggested a drawing of a dinosaur.
We didn’t actually travel to Bristol that day – instead stopping some sixteen miles short at the previous station, Bath, and cycling the remainder. As a fitting introduction to the West Country, it rained pretty much the entire way, and on arrival at the Novotel I squelched across the lobby in a less than cheerful mood. This was remedied at check-in, though, when I was solemnly handed a large Manila envelope by a member of staff who kept an impressively straight face at its contents:
This might not have been enough to launch the #hotelosaur project, but the very next stay also netted a similar response and so we begun to make a thing of it. These early successes turned out to be unusual; of the occasions I’ve asked (whenever both of us were staying – excluding our honeymoon as I fished for upgrades – and provided there was a requests box in the booking flow), I estimate less than half have produced results. Despite this, we have built up quite the herd over the years, all of which can be found on Instagram.
Not only did our hotel for the second half of the trip – the Arctic Club Seattle – play along, they may have set the bar impossibly high for future establishments. It was clear from the moment we arrived that they had put together something special, with the check-in staff visibly unable to contain their enthusiasm once they realised we were ‘the dinosaur people’. Perhaps thanks to the late hour of our arrival, practically every department had been able to contribute. The result? Well, see for yourselves…
As a conversion brand, Doubletrees can be variable in quality. I’ve generally been happy with their UK offerings (particularly ex-Mint hotels), which can even compare favourably to Hilton-branded properties; but have been less impressed state-side. This, though, is clearly one of their best, even without the elaborate welcome surprise (and standard-issue warm cookies).
Certainly The Arctic Building itself is far from your average identikit hotel in a box – it even appeared on various lists of downtown architectural highlights which I found after booking. Thoughtful use of the Arctic theme (to which I was already vulnerable from my Svalbard adventures) turned quirks arising from the age of the building into features. Although the lobby bar is probably an acquired taste…
A particular highlight is the Juneau restaurant. This operates a la carte instead of as a buffet, and our extensive research over five mornings confirmed that pretty much everything on the menu is huge and delicious. Better still, whilst the letter of the law on benefits for Hilton gold at Doubletree is free continental breakfast each day, here they were happy for us to use that as $12 credit each to trade up to whatever ridiculous bacon-based creation we really wanted.
Location was pretty convenient, with several bus services running past the front door, and a Link light rail station on the next block. The piers are easily walkable, and once the weather finally cooled down the Westlake Center (for the monorail) seemed reasonable too. However, there are more central options; there aren’t loads of restaurants in the immediate vicinity; and there’s a pretty large homeless community a couple of blocks down which occasionally needed police or medical attention late at night. But these are minor points- I thoroughly recommend a stay, and we were very happy with it both as a base for our sightseeing and to spend time on site.