On Sunday morning, Dec. 7, 1924, The Seattle Times published a five-page feature and an incredible 32-page rotogravure photo series celebrating the grand opening of the Olympic Hotel. Located in downtown Seattle between Fourth and Fifth avenues and University and Seneca streets, the original site of the University of Washington, the city's new luxury hostelry cost a whopping $4.6 million. Since then, Olympic's hoteliers have continued to invest in this historic property with high payoff.
Most recently, Fairmont Resorts & Hotels, the owners of the Olympic Hotel since 2003, dedicated $25 million to restoring the hotel’s lobby and public spaces. “The lobby is the heart and soul, where the magic begins,” says Sunny Joseph, the general manager. “It’s where our guests get the feel of turning moments into their memories.” Uncovered, after decades under carpets, are original terrazzo and marble floors. Two 300-pound chandeliers have been moved and rehung. Original woodwork has been refurbished. A “history walk” of vintage ephemera adorns the mezzanine. Subdued lighting throughout aims for warmth and intimacy. A striking addition is an enormous, largely wooden kinetic sculpture with 400 parts, including seven wheels, emulating the nautical theme of the hotel’s original sailing-ship logo. Hanging above a central bar, the sculpture has no name, but doubtless it will acquire an informal one.
Throughout the decades, the hotel has racked up an astounding guest list including Joan Crawford, Bing Crosby, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and several U.S. Presidents. In 2018, the Olympic Hotel, now owned by Fairmont Resorts & Hotels, joined the leagues of other iconic luxury hotels when it was inducted into Historic Hotels of America. Now with this most recent renovation, the Olympic Hotel stands to draw a new generation of guests looking to experience the historic luxury of this Roaring Twenties hotel.
Read more about the Olympic Hotel's history here.
Read more about the Olympic Hotel's renovations here.