Megan and I spent a night at the Grand Hyatt Seattle for New Year’s Eve using a free night certificate. This is, in my opinion, one of the best benefits of the Hyatt Visa credit card. Every year you pay your $75 annual fee, you get a free night at a category 1-4 hotel. There are lots of nice category 4 properties – even a few Park Hyatts – and a single night once a year sounds like a perfect New Year’s Eve excuse (published rates were over $300).
I reviewed the Hyatt Olive8 around the corner and was interested to see if there were any significant differences. Some people really prefer the Grand Hyatt, but the breakfast amenity at the Olive8 is much more generous since it includes a full meal for four at Urbane. The Grand Hyatt also has a limited number of rooms with two beds since it is primarily a conference hotel. Here’s a tip if you stay at either hotel: check a bag with the bell desk. Your claim ticket will include a 10% off coupon for Urbane or the Olive8′s spa.
My 1:30 check in was pushing it, and while I had been upgraded to a suite, it was not yet available. Instead I was provided a key to the Grand Club and told to expect a phone call when the room was clean. I waited until about 4:30, and the room still wasn’t ready. After some looking at the front desk, they did find a room for me, and they claimed it was a corner suite, but it was one of the narrowest suites I’ve ever seen. I actually had difficulty finding room to take pictures.
We selected the wine and cheese amenity instead of the points. I know that the two hotels work together closely, and the last time I got the wine and cheese amenity at the Olive8 it was very good goat cheese. This time was no different. The front desk also upgraded our bottle of wine to apologize for the delay.
I thought the bathroom was very tastefully done and spacious enough even if the rest of the suite felt cramped. The separate shower and tub were excellent to have, although we were still stuck with the old White Ginger toiletries. I think this was actually the last Hyatt where I’ve had to use them. Fortunately most properties seem to have moved over to the new products by now.
We then continued our snacking at the Grand Club. Food options included the excellent trail mix and dried fruit I saw earlier that afternoon, but it had expanded to include some cured meats and more of that delicious cheese. If I had known this, I would have just taken the points instead.
Sadly, drinks were not complimentary. I’ve had good luck at most other Grand Clubs. I dutifully fill out the slip at the honor bar yet the charges never make it to my folio. Washington state has bizarre liquor laws, so they must pour for you, which meant prices double what I usually see and a guarantee the bill won’t be forgotten. Other than that, I think the food here was better than during my recent stay at the Grand Hyatt San Francisco.
We then headed off to RN74 for our 6:30 dinner reservation. If you’re in Seattle, I highly recommend you try this place. We really enjoyed the $75 prix fixe Festivus menu when my dad and his girlfriend were visiting a few weeks prior. The New Year’s Eve prix fixe, also $75 for the first seating, was still good but not quite as extraordinary. I hope to go back there for lunch soon, when the prices are more reasonable.
After running up to Capitol Hill for a friends’ party, we then trekked back, stopped to warm up on a chilly evening, and headed to Denny Park to see the fireworks at the Space Needle. This was actually the first time I ever did this despite living here for five years. We were near Fisher Plaza, but if you plan to try something similar, you’ll get a better view if you stop a block short at 5th and Vine.
Breakfast at the Grand Club was staffed by the same friendly staff as the day before. Although buffet style, it included several hearty dishes including eggs, sausage, and potatoes. All delicious. The bakery selection was broad, but I’m a pastry man and didn’t see much of anything with custard and decided to pass on that. I have a free bagel from Panera that I will never eat.
It’s worth noting that there is no real coffee in the Grand Club, just a machine that grinds and brews on demand. Maybe that’s real enough, but I’m used to a French press. Machine-made coffee that takes less than 2 minutes on demand seems suspicious. They take away the half-and-half after breakfast, so you may have to ask if you don’t want artificial creamer.
Finally, I took a few shots of the gym before leaving. It was pretty nice and reminded me of the Andaz Wall Street. Although the gym at the Olive8 may not be quite so luxurious, I do know the Olive8 has its own saltwater lap pool.
Overall I was pleased with our stay. A few lasting impressions were that the Grand Hyatt is larger and more crowded, and I also thought the living room furnishings were just too awkward. The sofa and desk chair were uncomfortable and the desk had no obvious power outlet. (I should not have to move furniture to plug in my computer.) It seems unfair to compare an otherwise great hotel to a sister property, but in Seattle, I would choose the Olive8 every time.