Hotel Max

What can we say about boutique hotels that hasn’t already been said before?  They’re stylish, usually somewhat affordable, have incredibly inventive lighting design inside the elevator... and lack many of the comforts you might otherwise expect within such a refined setting.  The Hotel Max, part of the Provenance chain of hotels, is no exception.  Located smack in the middle of most anything you might want to visit in Seattle, Hotel Max (formerly the Vance Hotel) is an impeccably-decorated property that occupies one half of the block between 6th and 7th Avenue on Stewart.  The attractive, airy lobby and adjoining Red Fin Asian-fusion bar/ restaurant beckon visitors and locals with its whimsical mix of accent red, orange and hot pink hues.  The Hotel Max prides itself on showcasing local artists, and fans of photography, sculpture, painting and design will enjoy the 350 different pieces on display!

One trip up the aforementioned elevator however, and we’ve found a slight problem.  The hallways are incredibly narrow, and the rooms cozy to say the least.  Though it was well-furnished with a comfortable bed, a handsome credenza and even a cadre of current local hip magazines, there was little room to place a suitcase, even a closed one!  The bathroom fared worse I am afraid, with virtually no place to store anything at all.  Even more troublesome, you have to sit on a 45 degree angle to use the toilet.  Otherwise your knees will hit the wall!

After checking in, it was time to freshen up.  I must say I was happy it was Friday night and I was heading out for the evening as the walls were so thin, I could hear each and every word coming from the adjacent room.  (A couple of young sasses were also getting ready for a night out on the town.)  If you are looking for peace, quiet and comfort during your stay in Seattle, Hotel Max would probably not be my first choice.  Not that is mattered during my stay, only one night in length.

Aside from the art, the staff of the Hotel Max is its best asset.  There was no pretense or sourness to be detected in any of the associates I came in contact with, and their efforts made retrieving my car effortless, even during a busy check-out period.  Overall, I was pleased with my stay at the Hotel Max, though I doubt we would spend more than a couple nights here at a time thanks to its tight living quarters.

Set of Drifters tip:  Thirsty for some agua at night?  Plan ahead and bring your own.  The mini-bar charges $6 for a bottle of Smart Water, albeit a jumbo-sized one.

Hotel Max - 620 Stewart Street, Seattle, WA  98101, (206) 728-6299‎ or (866) 986-     8082 for reservations

Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort (Olympic National Park)

Booking accommodations in a location that you have never been to before can be a risky prospect to say the least.  Without knowing the overall vibe or logistics of a city and its relation to a port of entry, you can end up placing yourself far out of reach from the essentials of daily life.  While researching a weekend getaway to the Washington’s Olympic National Park, the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort appeared to be the best option.  The photos and amenities from the website looked promising for sure, nestled deep within the forest at the nexus of underground thermal hot springs!

Unfortunately, what I had not taken into account was the fact that the journey from Seattle would end up taking much longer than anticipated (see “essentials” for more information).  I almost went completely mad controlling the car along the curvy shoreline road that hovers just slightly over the rim of Lake crescent.  (Naturally, the last 45 minutes of the drive were the most treacherous, as they were also the darkest.)

When I finally arrived at Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, it was just about 9:00 PM, the witching hour for the lobby and its adjacent restaurant.  Unless I wanted to dine on Hostess powdered sugar donuts or pumpkin seed trail mix, there would be no dinner this evening.  I settled on a couple beers and my already open box of Cheez-Its and retired to my simple “modern” log cabin for the evening...

Once I had unloaded the car, I opened up the cabin to discover that while there was a small elephant fashioned out of hand towels sitting on my quilted bed, there was little else.  Alone without television or Internet access in the middle of a National Forest?  This was going to be a verrrry quiet evening, or so I thought!  Red Stripe, an alarm radio/ CD player, and a Chelsea Handler audiobook were my saviors from virtual insanity!  In fact, it must be reported that I had a few freak outs in the silence that accompanied my restless sleep, believing at one point someone had knocked on my cabin door - and then ventured inside to “snuff me out.”  Needless to say, I was pretty exhausted the next morning.

An adequate shower was soon followed by a stroll outside that revealed surroundings previously shrouded in darkness the night before.  (Although I had heard no trickling from inside my cabin, my rustic accommodations were apparently butted right up against the Sol Duc River itself!  Who knew?)  The Sol Duc Hot Springs are at the base of a snow-topped mountain, oh which I do not recall the name.  Nevertheless, it was interesting to see such temperate foliage growing in an otherwise Alpine environment.  While blades of grass in various shades of velveteen green carpeted the river bank, moss grows in every nook and cranny like it’s going out of style.  As usual, I was lovin' the lichen too!  Of course, this was just the first taste of the pungent lushness that would follow throughout the day.

Now, I did not come all the way to Sol Duc Hot Springs just to sweat out the silence in the darkness of night!  I also wanted to check out the therapeutic spa pools as well!  Unbeknownst to me, I booked the spot on the first day of the season!   Thus, while the hot springs facilities were probably the cleanest they would be all year, they were also quiet busy.  The three different pools on offer were teeming full of tourists, seemingly all from either Japan or Russia.  (Who is their travel agent?)

While traipsing through the hot springs, I tried to photograph the steam rising from the waters, yet it was much too bright to capture the moisture by morning.  Easier to lens were the wispy strands of sulfur in the water!  (Believe me, you could definitely smell their presence in the air!)  Ultimately, the hot springs were not quite as relaxing as I had hoped with all of those kids running between the pools and the changing rooms.  I did not stick around for too long, especially since I had quite the busy day ahead of me.

Set of Drifters tip:  While up in this literal neck of the woods, make sure to check out the Sol Duc Trail and waterfall nearby.  It makes the long journey to Sol Duc worth it.  (See “sights” for more information.)

Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort - 12076 Sol Duc Hot Springs Road, Port Angeles, WA 98363, (360) 327-3583