We pride ourselves on giving honest and positive reviews of the hotels we visit, the parks we go to, the restaurants we dine in… but now it’s time to share one that’s not so great. As we go to more and more destinations and stay in different types of accommodations, we’ve really learned what works well for our family, what makes a stay really fantastic, and we can tell when a hotel is comfortable resting on its laurels. The Westin Seattle is that hotel: it knows it’s got clientele and it’s cool sliding by, in our honest opinion.
Before we arrived at the Westin Seattle we were expecting a completely fantastic, amazing stay in a beautiful hotel. We were booked into the luxury suite on the top floor and ready to have a great time exploring the city with the kids. What we experienced was not awesome. While on the surface the hotel was pretty, there were some problems that weren’t cool. If you must see those things first, scroll down…
Why are we sharing a negative stay? I have worked in the hotel industry and I understand when something doesn’t go as planned or when a hotel misses the mark a little bit, but I always expect follow-up to happen or some sort of positive response while we’re still at the hotel. That’s not what happened here, including following a negative review via TripAdvisor and after completing the survey provided by the Westin.
Note: I want to be so very clear in calling out that we have waited to publish our review of the Westin Seattle in hopes of getting any sort of follow up regarding either our survey or Trip Advisor review. Since they’ve chosen not to respond, we feel it’s important to let other family travelers know what our experience was like so they can make an informed decision as to whether or not the Westin Seattle is the hotel for them.
General impressions of the Westin Seattle
Before we checked into the Westin Seattle we had really high expectations, as it is a premier hotel in Seattle and it’s been around for long enough to have really established itself for service and comfort. We were in the city traveling for work/business so we didn’t let the hotel know that we, 2 Travel Dads, were checking in, that is in the form of travel writers staying in a hotel.
Parking at the Westin Seattle
The first impression we got at the hotel was pulling up to discover how costly parking is. We always expect parking to be a shock when we are in the city because, well, it’s the city. Parking at the Westin was more than $43 a night after tax. That’s right, just to leave the car unattended and parked by yours truly, not parked by a valet ($57). So that was the first thing, just the cost of parking by itself without valet service.
The second thing that spoiled the impression was upon arriving at the hotel and starting to get the kids out of the car the bell staff immediately started to unload our stuff onto a bell cart. That might sound very helpful, but when you’re traveling with a baby and a four-year-old it’s not. Not that I don’t want help, but when the bellman takes your diaper bag and change of clothes and bag of toys and everything you might possibly need in the next 5 minutes and scurries away with them, yeah no. I actually didn’t have the chance to stop the process as I had to get the kids re-situated in the car to be able to park the car myself and save $15 per day. Moving on…
Tip: don’t get out of your car without talking to a bellman or doorman first. That way you have the opportunity to confirm parking options as well as set expectations around luggage and other arrival details. My bad for not doing this.
Note to hotels everywhere: arriving on property IS the first impression, not walking into the lobby. THIS is the opportunity to start a visit on the right foot, either with great guest service or family friendly parking options.
Check-in at the Westin Seattle
Checking into the Westin Seattle was fine, albeit slow. Maybe it seemed so slow because I was managing two kids and there was no visible sense of urgency from anybody anywhere. I had called ahead to be sure that either myself or my husband could check in, so there was no hiccup there, but it was just so slow. And at check-in I also requested a crib to be sent up to the room for impending naptime… But I’ll get back to that later.
Is the Westin Seattle kid-friendly?
We went up to our luxury suite and it was fine. It was a very nice room, as would be expected, but immediately we discovered how non kid-friendly the room was. Once we were in the room I set the baby down and scurried about trying to collect up all of the breakable display items, the weird iron balls that were heavy but could still roll, and anything else that was breakable and below my own knees. It was decorated for somebody who was looking to explore things at shin-level only.
Do you know what else wasn’t kid friendly? The mini bar and mini fridge set up. It was all on sensors. That means that as soon as we got into the room and the kids saw familiar snacks they went and touched everything and picked everything up and incurred loads in charges instantly. That was rectified by a simple call to the front desk and they removed the charges and said they would later send somebody up to remove the items from the mini bar, which they ended up doing. So no ultimate problem there, but it was just one more thing I had to manage checking into a hotel suite with kids. Checking into a nice hotel with kids should be stress free.
What we liked about the Westin Seattle
You know that we love bathrobes. The Westin Seattle had nice bathrobes that we did indeed enjoy across various occasions on our stay. Even our oldest got to enjoy a bathrobe in the afternoon. And the Westin did indeed provide slippers, which isn’t always the case even in the nicest hotels. We appreciated that touch.
Tip: ALWAYS enjoy the bathrobe in a hotel. Always.
Room with a View
We also enjoyed the view very much. In Seattle you’re not always going to have a great view because chances are it’s probably raining or foggy, but we were fortunate and we got a beautiful sunset as well as some beautiful breaks in the clouds throughout our stay. The kids enjoyed being able to watch the people in the condo across the street taking their dogs up onto the roof to use the doggy bathroom. I have to say, not living in a city that was a funny sight for all of us.
The best feature of the hotel that we got to take advantage of was the swimming pool. And here comes one more service issue: when we asked for directions to the pool the first three people we asked couldn’t give us clear directions. We ended up walking around in the lobby wearing our bathrobes and swim shorts for several minutes before we went to the FedEx shop in the lobby and they told us how to get to the pool. I don’t know if we were just asking the wrong staff or if the staff of the Westin Seattle has not gotten the chance to become familiar with their whole property, but it was odd that we couldn’t actually get clear instructions on how to get to the swimming pool.
Once we got to the swimming pool at the Westin Seattle we really loved it. The pool area was very clean, it was well stocked with swimming pool towels, and there was plenty of seating around the pool. There was even a nice view from the pool area as it was not at street level and gave you an elevated city view. I think I appreciated that aspect more than the kids did.
Bedding at the Westin Seattle
The Heavenly Bed is nice. The quality of the sheets and duvet are clear, but the complexity of the making is a bit of a nightmare. We’ve stayed in Westins and other Starwood properties before and not had a weird bed situation like we had at the Westin Seattle. Strangely we had at least three sheets, 1 coverlet, a duvet, and some other form of blanket. It was a whole lot happening and when you go to get in bed and there is that much going on… It just made it weird to get in between the sheets… If we actually got in between the correct ones, who knows, but the quality of the bedding was clear and the mattress was indeed heavenly.
What we didn’t appreciate about the bedding at the Westin was that there wasn’t appropriate bedding provided for the sofa beds. It might not be that luxury suite guests often used their pull out sofas in the master bedroom or in the living area, but being a family of four we did indeed need to use one. To our surprise, it wasn’t actually made up within the couch already nor was there bedding provided in the closet for the pull outs. It did have some sort of fuzzy cover on the mattress and then there was an extra blanket provided in the closet, but that’s it. There were no sheets. Why was this a problem?
Had we pulled out the sofa bed earlier in the day before it was bed time we would have known that we needed to call to the front desk to request linens to be delivered. When you’re a family who’s getting ready for bed after a long day in the city you don’t necessarily think that you’re going to have to scramble to find a place for your kids to sleep at 8 o’clock at night. We made do by using the provided blanket from the closet as well as blankies that we had brought too.
Safety and service issues at the Westin Seattle
Safety issues? Yep that’s correct. Two big safety issues were noticed almost immediately.
The first one was that the notepad in our room actually had the name and room number of another guest on it. Did that guest already check out? Is that guest still there in that room? Was somebody just in the room a moment ago and wrote that down? Why in the world do I have another guest information? Well I wasn’t going to do anything bad with that information, but I wouldn’t want anybody else knowing what room the Taylor family was in. It’s something so small and so basic but is a genuine safety concern. Like I said, I’ve worked in several hotels and guest confidentiality and safety is always number one.
The other issue we discovered immediately was that the smoke detectors in the luxury suite at the Westin Seattle had been covered with shower caps. Covered with shower caps? Yep, that’s right. Why would somebody cover a smoke detector with a shower cap? Well, maybe it’s because they were smoking in the room or maybe it’s because they were lighting candles and they didn’t want the smoke detector to go off? I don’t know. Luckily we didn’t have any actual fire problem because well, the smoke detectors would not have let our family know that there was any sort of danger.
The thing that also was upsetting about this was that when we removed the shower caps a lot of dust just dropped off the tops of them. This tells me that those shower caps have been covering the smoke detectors for who-knows-how-long and through how many guests’ stays. How many guests have potentially been in danger? We cannot stress enough how severe of a safety hazard this is and how poorly the hotel responded to this.
Tip: if you see something that is a safety issue, fix it yourself and then notify the staff. The response we got from the Westin Seattle staff when we called the front desk “Oh, um, can you remove it?” Well, yeah, we did, but should we have even had a safety concern to call about?
Direction: if something as dangerous as this is discovered, speak to somebody in person at the hotel so that they can understand the severity of the situation. Seriously, having smoke detectors that were intentionally disabled by somebody is actually a life threatening situation that is more serious than the Westin Seattle acknowledged.
It’s funny that I stay service second because that’s what I’m talking about second. I talked about safety first. Because safety is most important. And service, well it definitely holds the second place to who-knows-what with the Westin Seattle.
Calling the Westin Seattle
The first issue we faced happened even before we checked in. I had called The Westin Seattle ahead of time to arrange a crib to be placed in our room. Knowing that we were going to be in the luxury suite I felt like this was a simple request, especially because you’re not going to be shuffling a lot of pre-blocked rooms in order to accommodate putting a crib in there prior to arrival. Well, when I called the hotel the lady on the phone was very rude and wouldn’t let me speak or check my reservation or anything. When I said that I was calling to arrange a crib, she just cut me off and told me that I had to ask when I was finally checking in. She quickly asked if there was any other questions, and then I said no, and then she hung up. She was a gem to deal with.
And lucky us, when we arrived at the hotel and called the front desk to ask to have the mini bar turned off due to the kids incurring charges immediately (like I mentioned before) I got to talk to the same girl. And she was just as pleasant the second time I talk to her. Wow, I wish I could interact with her all day every day. What was her name? I have no idea because she also never identified herself, which is one of the key points that is important in making a good connection with guest service.
The other service issue we faced was with general bell service. Before, I mentioned that when we arrived at the hotel they quickly took our stuff from us and I wasn’t able to get control of things like the diaper bag and toys. Well, this came back to bite us in the butt when we finally got up to our room. We got there and while I was scurrying about trying to baby-proof the joint, the baby pooped. Yep, this IS a parent blog isn’t it? I’m talking about poop.
Well, like I said there was a poopy diaper that had to be fixed and quickly. Oh wait, I didn’t have a diaper bag or change of clothes. Now, you might be thinking that that’s such an obvious mistake to make, to allow somebody to take your diaper bag away, but it wasn’t. That’s how swiftly the belstaff moved when we arrived.
Since we’re still talking about service things, I guess we should group cleanliness into the overall service picture. Our windows were smudgy, there was trash from the previous guest under the table in our dining area, the desk in the bedroom was falling apart, there were the shower caps, and then there were the wine glasses. From lipstick to residual food material from previous guests, the wine glasses weren’t clean. That was the icing on the cake for what should have been an awesome, so so so so so so clean room.
Overall impression of the Westin Seattle
I wouldn’t book a room at the Westin Seattle myself. The service, the cleanliness, and the overall stay did not meet my expectations of a nice property like the Westin Seattle is supposed to be. I think that one reason this stay set so poorly with me is because we’d recently stayed at the Hyatt Olive 8 and it was perfect. We have also recently stayed in other hotels and resorts that may not have touted such a grand or nice reputation as the Westin Seattle, but they overperformed and were more comfortable and clean than the Westin was. I think that had we not had ideal, perfect Hotel experiences prior to arriving at the Westin our overall impression may have been very different and we might not have minded all of the little things and big things, including safety issues, that we encountered.
And like we said at the start of this review, we like to share the positive aspect of any hotel stay so it’s a bummer that we’re sharing one that doesn’t have that theme. It’s not our intent to cause any malady towards the Westin Seattle, but they just missed the mark on too many things without any form a follow-up, so as an honest travel blogger it’s my duty to recount our experience in hopes that others can have better ones when they visit Seattle.
Tuesday 19th of April 2016
Interesting. It's not often that travel bloggers post a "negative" review, so I find this rather refreshing. I appreciate that you took the time to mention what you liked about the hotel, as opposed to a full-on rant. This appears to be a fair, honest assessment of a not-so-good situation. Thanks for sharing!
Tuesday 19th of April 2016
No problem; thank you for checking it out! Yes, it was a tough one to write because it's not easy to share negative feedback, but it's just the best way to give a heads up to travelers since the Westin itself wasn't responsive to our feedback during or after our stay. Blogging is about sharing honest travel experiences. :)
Monday 4th of April 2016
This hotel is surely off my radar, m8!
Tuesday 22nd of March 2016
You have provided detailed information and an honest opinion and that is what is required, thanks for sharing,
Patricia - Ze Wandering Frogs
Monday 21st of March 2016
Thanks for that honest review! For an hotel of that standing, they definitely need to get their act together
Monday 21st of March 2016
Rob, I totally agree with the idea of writing a bad honest review and I don't think you were so bad in your comments. For a high class standard hotel, what you mentioned is just unacceptable. As you said, sometimes things are not perfect even if the staff does his best. But they have to recognize their mistakes and correct it. With my teams, I always used to say that I prefer a bad comment that a nice one. Why ? Because there's always something to leverage and a bad comment is the best service a customer can return to a commercial service. When I was in the south east two weeks ago, I had two bad experiences I will use in my blogs. 1. Alain llorca restaurant : A luxurious restaurant with a famous chief. I stopped my car close to the place to shoot a pic of Saint Paul de Vence by night. A lovely guy arrived. When I told him what I wanted, he invited me to enter and shoot from the terrace. The place was great, as the chief was preparing the food in an open kitchen in the hall. Everything seemed fabulous and when I was back in Saint Paul de Vence, I decided I wanted to write an article about the exceptional tables of the area, especially this one. I also thought about my private tours and thought it would be a great place for the guests who want a fabulous table + view. So I called... OMG ! The guy on the phone was so different ! He didn't considered me as a potential customer but as someone requesting for copyright-free pics. He was so haughty with me, as if I were less than nothing. He told me to use the pics of their website - it's not copyright free ! - and nothing else - what "else" ? So, they both lost a free good review and a market ! And I earned a case study for my future blog on hospitality... 2. Close to another famous village, Eze, a restaurant had a wonderful view on the sea. it seemed a perfect place for a sunny lunch and spend a few hours working (free wifi). The menu : very ordinary and quite expensive, except two kind of fish. An interesting long desserts' card. So I chose one of the fish and asked for the dessert of the day. Answer : "tiramisu, caramel cream and another special cream". I chose something else. Answer : "oh no, I only have the three desserts I mentioned". I ordered a tiramisu and a glass of red local wine. Two minutes later : "sorry, I don't have this fish. I only have this one". Okay, I ordered the other one (same price). Two minutes more : "sorry, I only have one fish" (triple price !). I asked for the menu again and left after checking again. The few things they had were very expensive and ordinary. They had no choice. Why did they pretend to have such a menu ? This is not honest.