The trendy Bellevue Club Hotel, near downtown Seattle, is a luxury boutique hotel with a fitness club attached to it. Great service, comfortable rooms and good views make the Bellevue a must-stay.
BELLEVUE, Wash. - Spandex seems to be the outfit of choice. Not to be outdone by the hot accessory of the moment - a tennis racket in its case.
The first few times you walk into the Bellevue Club Hotel, one of the trendiest hotels in Seattle and the surrounding area (translation: celebrities with small dogs, or women who think they're celebrity-worthy with small dogs, would stay here), there's a good chance you'll be confused. You're more likely to see special, breathable, athletic micro fibers than micro mini skirts.
In fact, the whole vibe of the place is more healthy than hot. You don't think about asking the smiling concierges what the hippest night clubs in the area are as much as you expect them to ask to take your blood pressure.
Has a hotel clerk ever put a guest on a no-salt diet? If it's ever going to happen, Bellevue Club Hotel might be the place.
Okay, that's an exaggeration but not a giant one. This luxury boutique hotel can make you feel guilty about not working out. Though, it's really no fault of its own. Bellevue Club Hotel is a huge fitness center with its own membership that happens to have a world-class hotel attached to it.
This creates the scene of having a bunch of exercisers toting their workout gear, sharing the same parking lot with hotel guests toting their suitcases. The hotel and athletic club do have separate entrances.
The hotel isn't a second thought, by any means. The rooms are plush, with high-thread-count sheets and that major hotel rarity - furniture you'd actually want to lounge in. More importantly, they are among the cleanest rooms in the greater Seattle area - if not the very cleanest. In a region where Grunge Rock sometimes seems to have set the stage for Seattle's hygiene habits, too, this is no small plus.
When the streets are grimy, it's even nicer to return to a room that's spotless. Especially if you've been in downtown Seattle, hanging in the areas around the Seattle Mariners' and Seattle Seahawks' stadiums.
"Even if I'm in town for a conference downtown, and I know I'll be out downtown going to a Mariners game and the like, I'd still rather stay in Bellevue," frequent Seattle visitor Robert Stern said. "It's more like a community with clean air and parks and stuff."
What Bellevue is happens to be an affluent shopping area - its most recognizable feature is its large mall that occupies several different buildings over several blocks and has shoppers crossing streets and going inside and out - with a heavy Microsoft presence (it has its headquarters here). It's about 20 minutes from downtown Seattle across Lake Washington (though you take highways). There are high chain stores galore, from a big Nordstrom to a Ruth's Chris steakhouse.
The hotels in the area tend to fall along the same lines with a Westin, a big Hyatt Regency and a Courtyard by Marriott among the usual suspects. This is part of what makes Bellevue Club Hotel so refreshing.
In a land of sameness, it offers something unique. Part of that something is a pool that you could train for the Olympics in and two outdoor tennis courts that are often filled.
The room I stayed in during this stay had a view over the tennis courts, and while you're not watching Federer-Nadal, there are much worse ways to waste 20 minutes then to sit down and catch a live match between pumped-up suburbanites. It's often better than what's on the HDTV.
Just don't get involved in line disputes. You're not a referee - even with your high perch.
Bellevue Club Hotel doesn't have a natural golf tie-in. It makes for a good golf base, though, one with easy freeway access, and a staff that goes out of its way to make sure golfers have everything they need. Or anyone else for that matter.
One of Bellevue Club Hotel's best features is its 24-hour concierge service. When I needed directions to Chambers Bay, a turn-by-turn printout and several pages about the course that's creating tons of U.S. Open buzz in greater Seattle, was slipped underneath my door.
You can also get late-night room service at the Bellevue Club Hotel. Returning from a Mariners game a little after 10:30 p.m. on a Friday night and finding the hotel's signature restaurant, Polaris, long since closed and the bar Cosmos already closing, this proved to be invaluable.
The room service is super quick - especially by room service standards - as well. Alas, the dinner salad that showed up at the door wasn't very good at all.
Bad room service food is a minor quibble in the overall quality of the hotel, though. Bellevue Club Hotel only has 67 rooms, which gives it something of an intimate feel (especially compared to the goliath hotels nearby) while still being large enough - and professional enough - to avoid that annoying, overly familiar bed and breakfast type of vibe.
The bathrooms are big - in this case, a separate shower and tub - and full of granite and marble. The ceilings are also refreshingly high.
You might not feel like a member of a special club, but you'll feel appreciated nevertheless. Bellevue Club Hotel is a cool place to hang out, whether you brought your own tennis racket or not.
July 30, 2008