Hello, there. The next thing on my list of holiday activities in Seattle is a tradition that my family and I have done ever since I can remember. I mean, I never need an excuse to visit the Fairmont Olympic Hotel. But if you do, then this is a wonderful reason to visit the most beautiful hotel of Seattle (in my opinion).
This outing consists of two parts. The first is tea at The Terrace* in the main lobby. The atmosphere here is festive, inviting, and often bustling with activity. It is a wonderful way to rest your feet and relax for a bit while the excellent staff attends to you. The system is seat-yourself, here at The Terrace. So, go ahead, claim that spot before someone else does! We always order at least 3 pots of tea and a few desserts. If you’re in need of some serious refueling, order a small savory plate. Since they change their menu regularly, and I haven’t been there recently, I am unfortunately not in a position to give dish recommendations. Enjoy the enormous and beautiful Christmas tree stretching from floor to ceiling while you sip your tea and listen to the soothing live piano music drifting from the corner.
Price: If my memory serves me correctly, tea costs about $4 per pot, and desserts usually run from about $5-$12, depending on the size/uniqueness of the item.
Local trick(s): My favorite person on the waitstaff is Peggi (yes, spelled with an “i”). She’s been working there for a while, and is practically a member of our family now. On Saturdays and Sundays, there is usually more activity in the lobby; I have been privileged enough to catch glimpses of many weddings, balls, and other black-tie events during the holiday weekend evenings. There is high tea that is served in The Georgian Room, but it’ll set you back $65 per person. Don’t forget to get a close-up view of The Fairmont’s very own gingerbread house, located at the center of The Terrace’s seating area.
Location: Fairmont Olympic Hotel, 411 University St., Seattle, WA 98101
Dates/Times: Tea is served year-round, and I believe the lobby is open until 11 pm (but I’m not positive). Unfortunately, I can’t find a open/closed time listing anywhere.
Get your camera ready, dear reader. The Teddy Bear Suite is a not-to-be-missed sight, especially if you have young children (or children of any age, my sister and I still love visiting it). During the holiday season, one of the hotel’s suites is transformed, brimming with Christmas tidings (and, of course, teddy bears) from floor to ceiling. This activity has provided our family with many Christmas card photos over the years, with the decked out room and bears providing a beautiful backdrop. There is a special sitting area to read some teddy-themed books, which is my favorite part of the whole suite. Every year, the decorations change, so this is one activity that you and your family can enjoy for years to come!
Price: Entry is free, however donations are accepted. The money goes to uncompensated care at Children’s Hospital.
Local trick: The lines to get in can get quite long for this activity, and the room is monitored by a volunteer. This means that only a certain number of people can be inside at a time. Though this provides for a better experience when inside The Teddy Bear Suite, it also means longer lines for you. I have found shorter lines when going on a weekday and/or right before closing time.
Location: Directions to the suite are clearly marked, or you can ask the concierge.
Dates/Times: November 23-December 30, Monday-Thursday: 11:00 am – 5:00 pm, Friday-Sunday (and Christmas Eve): 10:00 am – 7:00 pm
* Please keep in mind, The Terrace does not serve high tea. High tea is only served in The Georgian Room. High tea will set you back about $65 per person. I am trying to provide an alternative, to those who don’t want to pay for/don’t like high tea. Personally, I believe that the atmosphere and pastry selection are better in the lobby area anyways.