What gives a hotel that elusive “cool?” At Hotel Max, a 163-room boutique lodging in downtown Seattle, it’s a combination of art, amenities, and attitude.
Built in the 1920s, the 10-story Beaux Arts-style property underwent a complete overhaul before opening as Hotel Max in 2005. It’s run by the Provenance Hotel group, which operates the Hollywood-chic Hotel deLuxe in Portland, Oregon, among several other accommodations. Most of the Provenance properties aren’t super-deluxe, but like the Hotel Max, they’re funky and fun.
Black-and-white photos decorate the Hotel Max hallways, with works large enough to cover each guest room door.
The coolest floor is the fifth, which the hotel calls the “Sub Pop” floor, after local indie label Sub Pop Records, best known for launching the group, Nirvana. When you exit the elevator on the 5th floor, you almost smash into a life-sized photo of Kurt Cobain, Sub Pop’s most famous musician.
The 5th-floor rooms also come with record players — yes, those classic machines that spin actual records — along with a changing selection of discs that Sub Pop curates.
On all the floors, rooms are furnished with modern honey-toned wood furniture and white linens with charcoal grey and orange-red accents. Each room features original artwork, too.
Because Hotel Max is an older property, room sizes and configurations vary. The smallest and least expensive units, the “Mini Full,” are designed for a solo traveler or a very cozy couple (they measure only 175 square feet), while the “Max Studio King,” with a king bed and seating area with a sleep sofa sleeper) are the most spacious.
Bathrooms, with stainless-steel sinks, glass countertops, and large mirrors, vary from petite to more expansive as well. Bath products come from California-based LATHER.
In-room amenities include all the expected goodies — coffeemakers with Torrefazione coffee and Steven Smith teas, Wi-Fi, iPod docks, flat-screen TVs, safes, seersucker bathrobes — but Hotel Max goes one step farther.
The room phones have a button labeled “You Got It,” which connects you to a helpful hotel staffer, whether you need directions, room service, or a toothbrush. It’s not really any different than a button that calls the front desk — it just sounds cooler.
You can choose your favorite pillow type or request to borrow an iPod that’s preloaded with indie or classic rock, jazz and blues, hip hop, or other tunes.
Like the other Provenance hotels, Hotel Max doesn’t offer a standard in-the-drawer Bible, but an entire “Spiritual Menu.” You can request everything from Buddha’s Eight Nobel Truths, to the Koran, to the Book of Mormon, should your soul need extra attention during your stay.
And not only can you bring your pooch or other furry friend, you can also choose reading matter from the “Pet Spiritual Menu,” on topics ranging from pet psychology to dog massage.
Hotel Max has a spacious lobby, where you can meet a friend, check your email, or hang out over your (complimentary) morning coffee. You can stop into the lobby from 5:30-6:30pm for the daily “Craft Beer Hour” that’s free for hotel guests, offering brews from local producers.
The lobby features several eclectic original artworks, including an original Andy Warhol, Campbell’s Soup Can I – Vegetable (F&S48); Chilean-born Ivan Navarro’s Revolution #2, which incorporates a stacked set of drum heads; and a larger-than-lifesize matchbox dubbed Enjoy, by Skylar Fein.
The hotel has a small fitness room but no pool.
Valet parking with in-and-out privileges costs $45 per night. If you’re a resident of Washington, Oregon, or British Columbia, ask about the “local’s parking package.” There are slightly less expensive parking lots nearby, including an open-air lot right across the street from the hotel.
Restaurant and Lounge
Just off the lobby is Miller’s Guild, a “boutique steakhouse” that serves barrel-aged spirits and dry-aged beef grilled over a wood-burning fire.
It’s a popular local brunch destination, too, for dishes like steak and eggs with chimichurri, wagyu beef burgers with cheddar cheese and bacon, or a classic cobb salad topped with wood-grilled chicken. The fried Brussels sprouts and fresh-baked biscuits are excellent as well.
Miller’s Guild serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, weekend brunch, and an afternoon and late-night happy hour bar menu.
Location and Rates
You can walk from the Hotel Max to Pike’s Place Market and to most downtown attractions and shops. The Seattle Visitor’s Bureau has the scoop on things to see and do around town.
Winter (low-season) room rates at the Hotel Max start at $149, and summer rates begin at about $249/night. Check the hotel’s website for discounts and special packages, and compare rates with Priceline and Hotelopia.
That’s not bad for an urban hotel that combines cool art, cool amenities, and a cool attitude. Hotel-Scoop approves!
Review updated May 2016.
Hotel review by Vancouver-based travel, food, and feature writer Carolyn B. Heller, author of the books Moon Handbooks: Ontario (now available in a new 2nd edition) and Living Abroad in Canada. Her latest book, Moon Vancouver and Canadian Rockies Road Trip, will be published in summer 2016. Hotel exterior and lobby photos courtesy of Provenance Hotels. Other photos © Carolyn B. Heller. I paid a discounted media rate to stay at Hotel Max.