The Watertown Hotel and Yelp Sleepers – Where to Stay in Seattle

Posted by on Aug 7, 2013 in Seattle, Seattle Where to Stay | No Comments

 

The process by which we discovered the Watertown Hotel was not entirely obvious to me when I attempted to reverse engineer it using Yelp. But the Watertown was one of the better hotels I’ve experienced in the US, and the price was astonishingly low. All the more reason it deserves special mention in the Seattle series.

The Watertown has an underwhelming 4 stars on Yelp. Spots like the Inn On The Market, featured in The Layover, The Maxwell, also downtown, and the University Inn, just down the street, have 4.5. I’ll speak below about teasing out a “yelp sleeper” – a spot that’s underrated on Yelp and likely to be a good deal – but for now it’s useful to note that the Watertown differed from two in price, and another in location.
For now, the review.

The Watertown sits in the exact place you would locate a hotel if you aimed to cater to the parents of perspective students at the University of Washington. It’s two blocks from an off-ramp of I-5, Seattle’s main north-south conduit, and two blocks in the other direction from University Place, UW’s main drag, and the campus itself. Close to all that activity, but just far enough to occupy a sleepy block on Northeast Roosevelt Avenue.

For now, the review.


The Watertown sits in the exact place you would locate a hotel if you aimed to cater to the parents of perspective students at the University of Washington. It’s two blocks from an off-ramp of I-5, Seattle’s main north-south conduit, and two blocks in the other direction from University Place, UW’s main drag, and the campus itself. Close to all that activity, but just far enough to occupy a sleepy block on Northeast Roosevelt Avenue.

 

watertown exterior

The first thing that catches your eye is the modern construction. The Watertown is built in the style of a lot of Seattle’s new construction- a large-windowed, aluminum-sided, vaguely Scandinavian-looking affair with striking art-deco “forced perspective” lines. “New construction” is usually reassurance that rooms will have modern amenities, and inventive architecture that the proprietors are attentive to detail. Both assumptions proved correct when we saw our room.

 

watertown interior chih yu

Bear in mind that this is Hampton Inn prices.

Anyway, we learned partway into our stay that our room is nicknamed “the view room”. We were lucky enough to score a corner room on the sixth floor, with wall-to-wall windows facing the city.

 

watertown view

With regard to amenities, the Watertown is a few ticks north of what you’d expect for about $50 more per night. Let’s be clear though – it’s not the Trump or the Four Seasons. Instead it’s more like a model home in a modern furniture gallery – hardwood floors, clean lines, modern amenities like flatscreen TV and free wifi. To maximize the view, the loo was located at the “core” of the room, with the non-private areas wrapping around it.

The king bed was firm but comfortable. Front desk service was the best I’ve ever experienced, from a young, energetic-yet-laid-back staff who had the demeanor of bartenders at your favorite happy hour joint, and I mean that completely positively. (I’m not big into pomp and ceremony, “sir”, “madam”, fancy uniforms, etc – just give me somebody competent who I can level with.) Room service, a staple at higher-end hotels, was non-existent. Parking was free in the cavernous garage.

I would stay again at the Watertown if I returned, or possibly down the street at the University Inn. The University district is situated at almost the exact center of the city. It’s north of the river, so it’s quieter and cheaper than the downtown, but it’s only five minutes away in good traffic.

Ok – a word about using Yelp.

The Watertown, it turns out, belongs to a company that also owns the University Inn and the Maxwell downtown. It’s no coincidence that all score highly on Yelp, and all are a full price-echelon below other hotels with the same score.

Let’s make this clear – there’s not much work for you to do at this point if you’re traveling to Seattle – just stay at one of those three.

If you’re interested in how Chih-Yu found them, however, here are a few best practices-

1) Look not just at rating, but at rating/price. Either view all results and eyeball it, or filter by two “dollar signs” and tease out the top three or four.

2) Once you’ve isolated the “outliers” – those hotels uncommonly highly rated for the price, look more closely. Look at the photos, and the reviews. For Seattle, we decided to prize modernity, though there are some highly rated B&Bs and some classic hotels people love.

3) Look at the reviews to find “sleepers.” Sometimes a low review completely unrelated to any parameter likely to affect your stay is dragging the average down. My favorite example is the Gansevoort in New York, where the hotel shares space with a nightclub – a nightclub where some disgruntled clubbers wrote “one-star” Yelp reviews after being turned away by a bouncer. None of which has anything to do with the hotel, whose reviews are mostly rave, but it’s enough to give the Gansevoort a 3.5-star average.

Finally, I’ve written this elsewhere, but for the love of Pete join AAA. Discounts, people. Good luck, and happy hoteling!


Leave a Reply