Tuesday, April 19, 2016

KIRKLAND, WA: The Heathman Hotel

Wanting a change of scene one recent weekend, my wife and I decided to steal away and spend a night at the nearby Heathman Hotel in Kirkland.

Because we live only 25 miles away, we’ve visited Kirkland many times but never stayed over. This time, we made The Heathman, a luxury boutique hotel located in the heart of the city's downtown, our base of operations.

Classic King guest room
Kirkland, which was a sleepy suburb when we moved to the Seattle area in the early ‘80s, has blossomed into a hip, happening place with dining choices ranging from small family spots to white table cloth restaurants, lounges specializing in craft cocktails to dive bars, shops from upscale boutiques and clothiers to consignment stores.

Most appealing to us is that the city, which is located on the eastern shore of Lake Washington, extensively uses mixed-use buildings, with retail space on the ground floor and residences above. In an area where the population is exploding, it makes perfect sense and makes for a more appealing urban setting.

Eager to explore this area like a local, we checked in to the hotel, gave our car keys to the valet (at a very reasonable $15 per night), and walked wherever we wanted to go. The Heathman’s central location is perfect for that.

The four-story hotel itself is fresh and modern. Done in earth tones, it blends well into the architecture of the area, which itself blends in with the stands of fir trees that have been allowed to remain on the nearby hills despite prolific development in the area.

Upmarket bath amenities
Service was excellent. We were checked in swiftly, given a brief overview of the property, our room keys and an offer to escort us to our room, which we declined.

Our room, a Classic King, was on the top floor and featured high ceilings, a large flat-screen TV, king bed, sitting area with individual chairs and a side table, a hot pot and French press coffee set up (complete with instructions for the uninitiated), bathrobes and slippers waiting in the closet, an increasingly rare in-room mini-bar, bath with high-end Gilchrist & Soames amenities and a large soaking tub.

Once settled, we planned to put our champagne on ice before heading out to explore the area but learned there are no ice machines on the floors. A call to the front desk brought a bag of ice to our room within minutes.

Living room of Terrace Suite
A bigger challenge arose when we returned from our wanderings to find that the air conditioning did not appear to be working, as the room was even warmer than when we’d left. Hotel staff tried to trouble-shoot the issue but, when they were unable to resolve it, immediately offered to move us to one of the property’s one-bedroom Terrace Suites, complete with a gas fireplace and its own rooftop deck. At this writing, Terrace Suites are available from $339 per weekend night, compared to $169 for a Classic King room.

The hotel also has a well-equipped fitness center in the basement, a business kiosk, 24-hour room service, free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel (with higher speeds available for purchase), complimentary turn-down service, complimentary newspapers, and free transportation via the hotel’s “Hybrid SUV” to locations within a 10 mile radius of the hotel. That distance includes the shopping areas of downtown Bellevue as well as the wineries of Woodinville, among other destinations.

One area where I believe The Heathman is missing the mark is the pricing of its food and beverages.

Most travelers realize that hotel bar and restaurant prices reflect a premium for the convenience of not having to leave the hotel for a meal or adult beverage. However, The Heathman is literally across the street from a couple of fine-dining venues with more options available within a two-block walk so there is very little, if any, inconvenience involved in going off-property.

In addition, the hotel is two blocks from a full-service grocery store where guests can readily purchase beer, wine, bottled water and other items instead of paying the higher hotel prices. In my estimation, The Heathman would do well to consider those realities and bring its prices more into line with other nearby purveyors.

With that single caveat, I highly recommend The Heathman in Kirkland. We will definitely return!

Visit my main page at TheTravelPro.us for more news, reviews, and personal observations on the world of upmarket travel.



Photos by Carl Dombek
Click on photos to view larger images

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