Preservation Magazine, Fall 2021

Seattle's Swanky Fairmont Olympic Hotel Gets an Update

When Seattle’s Olympic Hotel opened in 1924, it instantly became the city’s main landing pad for well-to-do travelers. “[The hotel] announced to the rest of the country that Seattle had come of age, it was no longer the last frontier,” wrote architectural historian Miriam Sutermeister in 1979. Seattle’s maturity is no longer in question, but the Olympic (now the Fairmont Olympic) remains.

Chandeliers, Fairmont Olympic Hotel

photo by: Fairmont Olympic Hotel

Antique chandeliers and hand-carved oak woodwork at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in downtown Seattle.

The hotel’s $25 million interior renovation of its public spaces opened in April of 2021 and included the restoration and maintenance of significant historic details such as crystal chandeliers, terrazzo and marble floors in the stairwells and stairwell landings, and hand-carved oak woodwork. A mezzanine level above the main lobby displays a handwritten opening-day guest registry, an oyster fork, swizzle sticks, and black-and-white photographs, among other hotel memorabilia. “This is such a historic property, and it’s so important for us to maintain that history,” says the hotel’s Kristy Mendes.

The Spanish studio of Lázaro Rosa-Violán led the overall design, which also includes new elements like a central lobby bar topped by a kinetic art installation. Interiors firm Parker-Torres designed the renovated meeting rooms and event spaces, and MG2 served as the architect of record. The Fairmont Olympic is a Historic Hotel of America.

Meghan Drueding

Meghan Drueding is the executive editor of Preservation magazine. She has a weakness for Midcentury Modernism, walkable cities, and coffee-table books about architecture and design.

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