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.
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:
- Catch live indie bands at the famous Crocodile, where all your favorite ’90s bands played, as well as Neumos. Both are 10-20-minute walks.
- Watch the fish fly between fishmongers at Pike Place Market, 10minutes’ walk away.
- Relax in the Olympic Sculpture Park, about a mile from the hotel.
- Walk along Seattle’s waterfront, about 10 blocks away.
- Take the Seattle Monorail, a relic from the 1962 World’s Fair that ends at Westlake Center, right around the corner.
- Wander through Seattle Center, home of the Space Needle and Museum of Pop Culture, both at the other end of the monorail.
- Sample beers at the Pike Brewing Co., Cloudburst Brewing or Old Stove Brewing, all within blocks.
- Stop into the original Starbucks, a half-mile straight shot down Stewart Street.
- Take the Sound Transit Link train to Sea-Tac airport, about an hour from the Westlake station.
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 guest 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+ per night.
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
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: