The first time that I went to Seattle was in 1996, on work from Microsoft. As I headed out from the airport, the snow-capped mountains and the weather reminded me of Kashmir — I am from Kashmir — and it was a big tug in my heart because it felt so much like home.
If you would like to stay in the main city, try Fairmont Olympic Hotel, Westin, and there is a quaint W Hotel. In the east, where Microsoft is based, there is a beautiful hotel on Lake Washington, called The Woodmark. It has one of the best views and one of the best restaurants, Yarrow Bay Grill. Seattle is known for the best fish, meat and organic vegetables in the Pacific North-West.
There is this restaurant called The Herbfarm, which has just one seating nightly, and serves a nine-course meal, with six different types of wine that costs, the last time I went, $200.
Everything they serve is produced within a 100-mile radius. It is a beautiful place, and it is a once-in-a-lifetime thing I strongly recommend. Warning: It is so popular that you have to book a table three to four months in advance. A lovely place for casual food is Matt’s, in Pike Place Market, Seattle’s famous
fish market. Zig Zag café, also in Pike Place Market, has a mixologist, who makes mind-blowing drinks. The city is known for coffee; you can find the original Starbucks there, but I prefer the local coffee shops.
Remember: The minimum tip here is 15 to 20 percent; less is considered rude.
If it is your first trip, you should do touristy things: Visit the Space Needle; take a tour of Lake Washington, where you can see the homes of Bill Gates, Paul Allen and Jeff Bezos.
There is a nice winery area about half an hour’s drive from Seattle (Washington state is the largest wine producer in the USA after California).
The city is a great destination for alternative rock and jazz music lovers. It is the birth place of Jimmy Hendrix. It is also a great place for theatre, next only to New York and LA. In the summer, there are outdoor music and theatre festivals.
On a longer stay, a must-do is a trip to Mount Rainier, a 15,000-foot dormant volcano, two-hours from the city. It is a national park; there is a glacier, pretty meadows.
Since the weather is so good in Seattle, “Friday dressing” is something you see on a daily basis. When I first went there in a suit, people wondered why I was wearing one. If you are not wearing shorts, you will not fit in here! But always carry a light jacket in summer, as the weather can turn around quickly.
(Co-ordinated by Nilofer D’Souza)