Few travel destinations in the United States are more iconic than Seattle. But for travelers planning a trip to this Washington State metropolis, choosing where to stay in Seattle isn’t always cut and dry.
The largest city in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle is a melange of interesting neighborhoods. Each district offers a unique vibe and shows off a different facet of its urban mix.
Many of Seattle’s top-rated areas for travelers fall within its city center. They include Downtown Seattle, Pioneer Square, Belltown, and Queen Anne. Most of the best hotels in Seattle also lie within these popular districts. If you want to go further afoot, locales like Capitol Hill and South Lake Union offer plenty of great accommodation options, too.
Not sure how to find the perfect Seattle hotel? Dig up the city’s top lodgings with this complete guide to the best places to stay in Seattle, WA!
Best places to stay in Seattle, WA
With a metro area of almost 4 million people, unraveling which area to stay in Seattle can be challenging. The city itself sprawls over 142 square miles (368 km²) between Lake Washington and Puget Sound. Its diverse areas & neighborhoods stretch to all ends of the West Coast city’s urban core.
For first-time visitors, Downtown is the best area to stay in Seattle. Downtown offers easy access to the top tourist attractions in Seattle, including Pike Place Market and Seattle Art Museum. The downtown sub-neighborhoods of Pioneer Square and Belltown are popular choices, too.
Outside of downtown, areas like Queen Anne, Capitol Hill, and South Union Lake are excellent alternatives. Staying in these neighborhoods, you’ll still be close to the city center. You’ll be able to experience all the city’s finest moments while enjoying the districts’ more “local” vibes.
The best areas to stay in Seattle are:
✔ Best area to stay in Seattle for first-time visitors
Visiting Seattle for the first time? Set your compass for Downtown Seattle. Pushing eastward from the waterfront, Downtown is the heart of the city. It’s home to many of the city’s top restaurants, shopping malls, and major attractions. On a first-time Seattle itinerary, there’s no better place to base yourself than here.
Downtown Seattle is anchored by the famous Pike Place Market. Located near the Elliott Bay waterfront, Pike Place Market is one of the USA’s oldest farmers’ markets. Founded in 1907, the famous market still springs with fishmongers, produce stalls, and gourmet food vendors. There’s also a dash of restaurants at Pike Place Market with views over the bay.
Coffee lovers will also recognize the city’s downtown as the mecca for North American coffee culture. Not far from Pike Place Market lies the world’s first Starbucks. For many everyday coffee drinkers, it’s ground zero for their obsession. True coffee connoisseurs, however, may prefer the micro-roasteries of Belltown or Capitol Hill.
Elsewhere in Downtown Seattle, shopaholics can unleash their wallets at some of the city’s finest shopping malls. Both Westlake Center and Pacific Place sit in the eye of the city’s commercial district.
Traveling with the kids? There’s also plenty to see & do for families here. Head to the newly rejuvenated Waterfront Park to take a spin on the Seattle Great Wheel. Kids will also love marveling at the fascinating sea creatures of the Seattle Aquarium.
The quality & selection of hotels in Downtown is excellent. But since it’s the most central district in the city, expect to pay a premium here.
Located on the doorstep of Pike Place Market, Palihotel Seattle charms guests with its cool vintage style. For its location, this 3.5-star hotel offers some of downtown’s best value. Upgrade to a deluxe room for fantastic views over Elliott Bay and Puget Sound.
Representing Hyatt’s new boutique brand, Motif is one of downtown’s trendiest hotel picks. Rooms are fitted with remarkable artwork & furnishings. During your stay, you’ll enjoy facilities like a fitness center, outdoor patio, and an on-site restaurant & bar.
One of the best luxury hotels in Seattle, this 4.5-star hotel dazzles with its striking contemporary style. Besides luxurious accommodations, the W’s on-site restaurant & bar shines. Enjoy inspired local cuisine and cocktails in the shadow of the lobby’s resplendent 3-story fireplace.
✔ Best neighborhood to stay in Seattle for historical sightseeing & sports
Located south of downtown, Pioneer Square hints at Seattle’s roots as a Pacific Northwest outpost. Pioneer Square is the city’s oldest quarter. The neighborhood dates back to the late 18th century when it welcomed Seattle’s first settlers. It teems with 1880s-era Romanesque Revival buildings. They’re among the city’s most impressive architectural examples to spot.
To get the full Pioneer Square experience, hop onto an Underground Tour. On the tour, you’ll learn all about the city’s humble beginnings. It traverses the few subterranean structures remaining after the Great Fire of 1889. The Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park also gives an interesting historical low-down on the city’s roots.
Besides its history, Pioneer Square teems with trendy restaurants and bars. For a dash of nostalgia, pop into the historical Central Saloon. Dating back to the 19th century, it’s the city’s oldest bar. At this now legendary music venue, grunge bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Alice in Chains found their sound in the 1990s.
Pioneer Square is also a great spot for sports fans. During football season, you can watch a Seahawks game at nearby Lumen Field. Or, in the baseball season, catch fly balls at a Mariners game at T-Mobile Park.
With its location & style, this 3-star hotel delivers some of the best value around Pioneer Square. The rooms and studios give guests tons of space to unwind. Retire to the indoor pool to cool down after a day of sightseeing.
For luxurious comfort in the city’s historic district, look no further than the Embassy Suites. Upgrade to one of its corner king rooms for more space and superb panoramic views over the city. Reservations include a daily American breakfast and access to a large indoor pool. The International District/Chinatown Link light rail station is a quick 5-minute walk from the hotel.
Bringing its brand of Korean hospitality to the West Coast, this 5-star hotel is one of the city’s top luxury picks. Facilities include a fitness center, sauna, and full-service spa. Done pampering yourself? Pop in next door to the Columbia Center, the city’s tallest skyscraper. The observation deck is even higher than the Space Needle!
✔ Best district to stay in Seattle for shopping & dining
Sitting in the north end of the center, Belltown is one of Seattle’s coolest quarters. Not long ago, Belltown was known as a grungy, semi-industrial corner of downtown. Today, the story’s much different.
Along its main streets, Belltown flaunts one of the city’s finest shopping & entertainment areas. Both 1st Avenue and 2nd Avenue burst with trendy boutiques and restaurants serving up some of the city’s tastiest eats.
At the southern edge of Belltown, keep on the lookout for the Crocodile Back Bar. Formerly known as the Crocodile Cafe (or The Croc), it’s one of Seattle’s most legendary live music venues. Famous local bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden all hit the stage here.
Like much of the city center, the accommodation selection in Belltown leans towards mid-range and luxury prices.
With its stripped-down retro style, Ace Hotel is one of the best budget hotels in Seattle. The central location in Belltown is perfect, too. It’s a 10-minute walk to both Pike Place Market and the Space Needle. The hotel serves a continental breakfast if you’re in a rush to hit up all the attractions.
For mid-range travelers, it doesn’t get much better than the Belltown Inn. Each well-appointed room includes a kitchenette, flat-screen TV, and ensuite bathroom. The hotel’s rooftop terrace is a fantastic outdoor space for relaxation. From the rooftop deck, you’ll enjoy gorgeous views of the downtown core.
A bold, turn-of-the-century style greets guests at the Kimpton Palladian Hotel. Staying at this 4-star hotel, you’ll love the vintage designs fused with contemporary touches. Upgrade to one of its luxury suites to soak your cares away in a classic clawfoot tub. Pike Place Market is a short 5-minute walk from the property.
Located on the edge of Belltown, the Hyatt Regency is one of the city’s top luxury picks. Staying at this 4-star hotel, you’ll revel in a full range of amenities, including a fitness center and room service. The central business district is a quick walk from the property.
✔ Best neighborhood in Seattle for mid-range travelers & families
Want to enjoy great city views & family-friendly fun? Base yourself in Queen Anne. The upscale neighborhood butts up to the northern edge of Belltown.
Queen Anne delivers a mix of residential streets and commercial blocks. In Lower Queen Anne lies Seattle Center, a 74-acre park built for the 1962 World Fair.
At Seattle Center, you’ll spot the city’s most iconic landmark, the Space Needle. Zip up to its 520-foot observation deck to marvel at spectacular 360-degree views over the city. You can even see as far as Mount Rainier, the Cascade Mountains, and the Olympic Mountains on a clear day.
Music & film fans should carve out time to visit the funky Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP), formerly the Experience Music Project. Be sure to check out the permanent Jimi Hendrix exhibit. It showcases some of the rock legend’s most famous stage costumes and guitars. The Seattle Children’s Museum and Chihuly Garden and Glass also sit within Seattle Center.
While exploring the residential quarters of Queen Anne, head over to Kerry Park. Located on the southern slope of Queen Anne Hill, the park delivers one of the most iconic views of the city’s skyline and bayfront.
For an even bigger dose of nature, head 15 minutes west of Queen Anne to Discovery Park. At 534 acres, Discovery Park is the city’s largest green space. The seaside park offers miles of hiking trails through the greenery. From its beautiful beaches, you’ll lap up panoramic views over Puget Sound.
Most of the top hotels in Queen Anne ring around Seattle Center. Expect to pay mid-range prices and upwards.
Looking for excellent value in Queen Anne? Grab a room at the Hampton Inn & Suites. At the budget-friendly hotel, you’ll be within a 10-minute walk of popular attractions like the Space Needle and MoPOP.
Want to add a little pizazz to your vacation? Staypineapple The Maxwell Hotel is one of the coolest boutique hotels in Seattle. The room design is both quirky & fun. You’ll also enjoy extra amenities like an indoor pool and gym. Upgrade to a junior suite to enjoy views toward the iconic Space Needle.
Located across from the Space Needle, Hyatt House is perfectly placed to squeeze the most out of your trip. The modern rooms are spacious and include extras like flat-screen TVs, kitchenettes, and coffee machines.
✔ Best district in Seattle for hipster-approved dining & nightlife
Looking to spend your nights out on the town? Lay down your head in Capitol Hill. Located to the northeast of the city center, the neighborhood is one of the coolest places to hang out in Seattle at night.
Capitol Hill is known for its laid-back, liberal attitudes. The area teems with hipster-approved coffee houses, hip boutique shops, and vintage clothing stores.
By day, Capitol Hill is a fantastic place to roam around. Stroll along its leafy boulevards and settle down with a cup of gourmet coffee at one of its chilled-out cafes.
The best time to hit up the streets of Capitol Hill, though, is at night. The area is a forerunner in the city’s nightlife & live music scene. Wherever you find yourself in the district, you won’t be far from a cool bar or nightclub. Capitol Hill is also known as a center for Seattle’s LGBTQ community.
Traditional sightseeing options in Capitol Hill are more limited. Want to learn more about the history & culture of Seattle’s Asian community? Head up to the Seattle Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park. Built in the 1930s in Art Deco style, the museum hosts an array of interesting Asian artwork & artifacts.
Above Volunteer Park at Lake View Cemetery, you can also take a day trip to pay tribute to Seattle’s most famous Asian-American resident, Bruce Lee.
Perched on the southwest tip of Capitol Hill, Homewood Suites dole out some of the area’s best value. Suites offer plenty of space and full kitchens. Extras include a games room and a heated outdoor pool.
This historic B&B occupies a 1909-era mansion. With its vintage decor & furniture, it offers one of Capitol Hill’s most unique accommodation experiences. You’ll love hanging out in the private courtyard and exploring the quiet neighborhood. The B&B is minutes from Volunteer Park and the Asian Art Museum.
The 4-star Silver Cloud hotel is located in the Pike/Pine area south of Capitol Hill. It’s perfectly set to embark on the ultimate Seattle culinary adventure. Within blocks lie some of the city’s best places to eat, including Chophouse Row. The hotel is also within walking distance of a light rail station.
South Lake Union
✔ Recommend area in Seattle for business travelers & lakeside pleasures
Wedged between downtown and the lakeshore, South Lake Union is a favorite choice for where to stay in Seattle for business travelers. South Lake Union is most famous for hosting head offices for Seattle’s tech heavyweights, including Amazon.
Beyond its business-first agenda, South Lake Union is a surprisingly hip urban neighborhood. Explore the area to uncover its tasty food trucks, cafés, and restaurants. Be sure to check out Lake Union Park. Located on the southern lakeshore, the park is a great place for a stroll to relaxing lake views.
With its focus on business travelers, prices in South Lake Union tend towards the mid-range and luxury segments of the market. If you stay here, you’ll still be a quick hop from downtown. From several spots in the neighborhood, you can hop aboard the Seattle Streetcar for the 10-minute ride to Westlake in the center of the city.
Want to enjoy the city’s lakeside comforts? Give this value-laden 3-star hotel a whirl. Upgrade to one of the lake-view rooms to get the most out of your stay.
A fresh modern style ensures a restful sleep at the EVEN Hotel. In-room amenities include a flat-screen TV, free Wifi, fitness kits, and a seating area. The hotel is just two blocks from Lake Union Park.
Located across from Fairview Marina, this 3-star hotel offers excellent value for the South Lake Union neighborhood. The rooms are bright & spacious. Reservations include a complimentary continental breakfast.
Marriott’s new urban hotel brand adds a dash of retro style to the South Union Lake accommodation scene. Throughout the property, you’ll bask in snazzy industrial chic and rustic designs. The Moxy is located beside a link light rail station. From here, you’ll have no problem getting around the city with ease.
Other areas in Seattle
Sitting in the city’s northwest, Ballard is a hip bayside neighborhood. The district was once a separate city—and still has an indie feel in parts. Known for its Scandinavian roots, Ballard has developed a penchant for brewing. Craft beer lovers will love staying in Ballard to explore its almost dozen breweries. For shopping and eating, historic Ballard Avenue is the area’s most coveted destination.
A 15-minute drive from Pike Place Market, the University District is a good alternative for younger travelers. The University District centers around the University of Washington. The leafy neighborhood adds plenty of credence to the city’s “Emerald City” nickname. Budget travelers looking to spend their nights plying through dive bars might enjoy staying here. Otherwise, you’ll find better options in the center.
Located north of Queen Anne, Fremont is one of Seattle’s coolest suburbs. Fremont dishes out a laid-back, artsy vibe. On its streets, you’ll stumble upon vintage shops and trendy restaurants & bars. Even if you don’t stay here, don’t miss out on the area’s most famous resident, the Fremont Trail. Clutching a crushed VW Beetle, the massive concrete troll dwells under the Aurora Bridge. The skyline views from Gas Works Park are also worth a gander.
Although minutes from downtown, Seattle Chinatown-International District shows a surprising lack of accommodation. And with its scruffier reputation, it’s hard to recommend it to most travelers over nearby areas. For foodies, though, the International District is one of Seattle’s tastiest corners. Saddle up in the area to enjoy the city’s finest dim sum, noodle soup, and sushi.
Located southwest of downtown across the harbor, West Seattle is a great option for catching some summer seaside charms. West Seattle centers around Alki Beach. With its beautiful views over Puget Sound, the area’s most popular beach is home to a string of laid-back cafes and restaurants.
Surrounding its eponymous lake, Green Lake is, well, one of the greenest suburbs in Seattle. Green Lake is a great place to stay if outdoor adventure sits high in your plans. Walk around the lake or take to the water on a kayak to get the full experience.