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Choosing a hotel is an important part of the planning process for any vacation. Whether you’re looking for the luxury of an upscale hotel or just a comfortable place to crash, there are many factors to consider before you book.

The hotel culture in one destination is not always the same as the next, but even if you’re only traveling domestically, you may notice slight differences in how hotels are run.

When it comes to Seattle, the following are a few things you should know before you book a hotel.

Things to Know Before Booking a Seattle Hotel

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Negotiate for a Better Price

The hotel industry throughout the United States is competitive, and a great way to score a great deal on accommodation is to negotiate for a better price. Unless your travel coincides with peak season, there’s usually a little bit of room to move on the nightly rate.

The easiest way to score a cheaper rate is to simply ask. At worst you’ll be told no, though you would be surprised by how likely hotel staff are to work with those who are polite.

Tipping is Expected

If you’re a foreigner visiting Seattle for the first time, you should be aware of the culture of tipping in the United States. Tipping is expected within the service industry, and you should factor this into the budget for your stay.

If driving and using a valet, a $2-$5 tip is appropriate for handling your car. A couple of dollars is also a proper tip for the bellman, as well as for the housekeepers for servicing your room each day. A standard tip for restaurant service is 20 percent of your total bill.

Money tipping tip

Pot Smokers Can’t Light Up Just Anywhere

Washington may have recently legalized marijuana for recreational use, though that doesn’t mean you’ll find a Seattle hotel that will give you a smoking room. Most hotels across the state have done away with their smoking rooms, and you’ll find yourself hit with a hefty fine if you’re caught lighting anything up inside.

If you’re a smoker, you should try to find rooms at hotels that allow smoking on balconies; otherwise, you can usually find a small designated smoking area somewhere on the grounds — often, this is at the front of the hotel or in the car park. Do note that regarding the use of marijuana, very strict limitations outlaw smoking in all public spaces, including inside private restaurants, bars, and clubs, and hotels.


Ditch the Car

Parking in Seattle is hard to come by, especially if you’ve booked a stay in the downtown area, and most hotels charge for parking at a premium, regardless of whether you opt to self-park or hand your keys to a valet. Street parking in Seattle can prove difficult, as streets throughout the city are narrower than in other destinations.

Also, don’t think for one second that navigating Seattle traffic will leave you in a good mood. Ungodly gridlock is not the way to kick-start a holiday. To ensure a pleasurable stay, book your hotel as close as you can to your favorite attractions and sights. If possible, walking distance is ideal.

That said, there are a huge range of incredible day trips from Seattle, so you’ll have to weigh up whether you’ll need a car as part of your itinerary if you’re exploring the surrounds.


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Megan is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging since 2007, with the main aim of inspiring others to embark on their own worldwide adventure. Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

Follow their journey on Facebook, TwitterYouTube, Pinterest and Instagram.


  1. Great tips and things to think about before booking a hotel in Seattle! Definitely agree about the car–unless you are heading out of the city, you really don’t need a car there. I never think to negotiate for a better price–I’ll have to try that next time!

    • Thanks Jenna! One of our more amusing passtimes in Seattle was watching people try to street park … between the narrow streets and impossible parking to the traffic, so much easier and less stressful to catch public transport or walk. It’s super easy to get around, so should be a no brainer!

  2. Some good tips there Megan. Even though I’ve visited the USA many times, I don’t like tipping and still get confused. If one bellboy carries your luggage from your room to reception and (while you’re fixing up your bill) a second bellboy picks up your bag and puts it in the taxi, do you tip one or both bellboys? How much each?

    • Thanks Christina :) I know – tipping confuses me too, it’s sad that the culture of tipping has gotten so out of control – it’s getting to the stage where I’m almost rude now about carrying my own bags and doing my own thing because otherwise half your budget just goes towards tips!

  3. Seattle is definitely on my bucket list and I plan to mix it in with Vancouver when I finally make it. What are your best recommendations for boutique hotels?

  4. Great tips, as usual, Meg!

    I’ve traveled extensively in the US and tipping still bothers me in some situations but I respect it as it’s a cultural thing.

    As any other big American city, driving I’m sure driving is just crazy. Best avoid it, like you say.

    My company has an office in Seattle and I’m likely to have to travel there quite soon. I’ll keep these in mind.


    • Thanks Hugo! Yes, driving is honestly just as crazy in other big US cities too – we did a roadtrip recently throughout and tried our best to avoid big cities at all costs – as soon as you came within an hour of them the traffic just became deadlocked!!

      Have a wonderful time in Seattle if you end up there on a work trip :)

  5. Doing Marijuana is legal? I didn’t know. These are quite useful tips. Talking of tips, the plateful of $$$ is an aweful lot of tips. :)

    • Yes indeed – they recently legalized it in Washington State.

  6. You know, even though I am American and have stayed in countless hotels….I have never ever thought of bargaining and asking for a cheaper rate. Thank you and good to know:) You are right about parking…a major nuisance in cities. These are great tips for Seattle and appropriate for many other cities across the country :)

    • Absolutely Rosemary – Reservations will have 5 or 6 room rates for any given night, and will usually start by quoting you somewhere in the middle. There’s less wiggle room during peak season or busy nights, but the worst they can say is no! Never hurts to ask :)

  7. Good to know it’s worth bargaining in a hotel – I don’t often think of it.

    • Absolutely Monika – Reservations will have 5 or 6 room rates for any given night, and will usually start by quoting you somewhere in the middle. There’s less wiggle room during peak season or busy nights, but the worst they can say is no! Never hurts to ask :)

  8. I’ve never considered negotiating prices for a hotel. But, I’ll definitely take this into consideration the next time I book one. Like you said, the worst they can say is no. Great tips!

    • Absolutely Colby! Good luck! :)

  9. A great list of tips there for booking hotels in Seattle! I never quite got used to American tipping when I was there! After 2 years in Japan where you NEVER tip, it was hard to switch! haha

    • Thanks Danielle :) We’re the same in AUstralia – tipping is not part of the culture here at all so it takes some getting used to and can be quite confusing knowing what the norm is!

  10. Hi Megan. Thanks for sharing these important tips. (Tipping is important, haven’t left my mind. LOL) Planning to visit Seattle soon.

    • Hope you have a wonderful trip! Glad the post was helpful :)

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