Hotel Max in Seattle. Photo by Shutterstock.

Hotel Max

THE SHORT VERSION

No hotel in Seattle celebrates the rock ‘n’ roll culture of the city quite like Hotel Max, where every room tastefully memorializes the glory days of grunge. With free craft beer daily and proximity to the best of Downtown and Seattle Center, the Max is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in Seattle’s music history.

THE SCENE

An endless tribute to Seattle’s music

As soon as you step in off of Stewart Street and into the lobby of the Hotel Max, the aura of music surrounds you. Yes, there’s vintage Soundgarden, Nirvana and even Hendrix and Heart playing over the speakers, but the lobby also greets you with an autographed Gibson guitar from Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic, which sits not far from a modern art piece of vertically stacked drums. 

The lobby walls are done up in colorful Pop Art, including an Andy Warhol original, and the floor-to-ceiling windows let you feel like you’re right on the Seattle street. Though the place isn’t exactly teeming with locals, you’ll feel part of the city more than you would in most downtown hotels. And during the free beer happy hour, you’ll mingle with other guests who ostensibly are just as captivated by Seattle music as you.

LOCATION

At the crossroads of Downtown, Belltown and Seattle’s waterfront

Though Amazon has swallowed up a lot of the character that once made the blocks north of Downtown Seattle such a special place, the corner of Stewart Street and Seventh Avenue is still perfectly central to almost anything you’d want to do in the Emerald City. The Space Needle, Pike Place Market, a handful of local breweries and, yes, the original Starbucks are all less than a 10-minute walk from the Max. And if the weather is unusually not-rainy, you can even take a scenic stroll down to T-Mobile Park or Lumen Field to see the Mariners, Seahawks or Sounders play. For a guide to the most notable and quintessential experiences in Seattle, check our guide to the city: Best Things to Do in Seattle.

Within a short walk of The Max, you can:

ROOMS

Small, colorful rooms with more personality than personal space

The Max actually dates all the way back to 1926, when it first opened as the Vance Hotel. While it’s gotten a serious upgrade over the last 90-plus years, the rooms are still 1920s small, and if there’s one knock on the place, this is it. That said, the views still aren’t bad, as lower floors feel like you’re sleeping on the treetops and higher ones surround you with the historic architecture of the neighborhood.

The small rooms are still bright and filled with energy, with loud orange walls and bright aluminum sinks in the bathrooms, and pictures of artists who made the Seattle music scene in the bedrooms. The style in all the rooms is modern but minimalist, with dark walls, light woods and sleek furniture.

The fifth floor, a tribute to Seattle’s legendary indie label Sub Pop Records, is far and away the one to stay on. Each room on the floor is adorned with large black-and-white photos from legendary ’90s music photographer Charles Peterson, as well as poster art from the era. And they’ve all got vintage record players inside with albums from Sub Pop bands past and present. 

Beyond that floor, the Max has four categories of rooms:

  • Mini Rooms are only 175 square feet, and ideal if you’re traveling solo and don’t plan to hang out in your room much. They have walk-in showers, old-style radios and full-sized beds,  but not much space to put much of anything.
  • Modern Rooms are a little bigger than Minis with larger king or queen beds inside. Though the art on the walls is captivating and the bathrooms bright and cheery, storage options are still limited.
  •  Max Rooms are probably a little more along the lines of what you expect in a modern hotel room, clocking in at least 270 square feet with a desk and entry hall. They’re still not exactly places to throw a pregame and might not be worth the extra money unless you need a private workspace.
  • Traveling with your crew? The Bunk Rooms might be the move. You can re-create all your favorite scenes from “Step Brothers” with three twin bunk beds along with a full-sized regular bed. This might work for families too, but you better like being close.

 Room rates vary from 99 to 215+ dollars per night.

AMENITIES

A free beer happy hour is just the beginning of the benefits

Probably the coolest amenity at the Max is the nightly happy hour from 5:30-6:30 p.m., where the hotel pours free craft brews for all the guests. It’s not only a great place to get your night started for free, it’s also the time to meet that person you made slightly-too-long eye contact with in the cozy elevator.

Free beers are usually enough when it comes to hotel amenities, but the Max keeps delivering with other useful perks like:

  • Free same-day laundry and dry-cleaning service
  • Free Nespresso and Smith Tea in-room
  •  Free shoeshine service
  • A virtual concierge named Paige
  • Nightly turndown service
  • 50-inch televisions and Bluetooth speakers in every room
  • A 24-hour fitness center with basic weights and cardio equipment
  • A menu of spiritual books that can be delivered to the room 
  • Contactless checkin
  • Bowls, toys and treats for pets
  • Electric vehicle charging
  • Bike rental 

MILLER’S GUILD

A James Beard winner delivers to your room

In addition to being a music and coffee capital, Seattle has also garnered itself a reputation as one of America’s top food cities. Right in the lobby of the Max, you can sample food from James Beard Award-winner Jason Wilson at Miller’s Guild. It’s a meat-tastic spectacle of a restaurant, combining nostalgic accents like leather-covered menus with new steakhouse staples like ahi tuna poke tacos and a double-Wagyu burger.

While we wouldn’t recommend dinner here if you’re not a meat eater, the bar is still worth a session with its handful of original cocktails. Miller’s Guild also does room service at the Max if you’re more comfortable eating a $35 rib-eye from the comfort of your pillowtop bed. Although, given the size of the rooms here, the bar is still a better bet.

See our Best of the U.S. Bucket List series for your guide to the city:

Best Things to do in Seattle