Seattle and San Digeo over the holidays

Jan 27, 14 Seattle and San Digeo over the holidays

In a previous post, I told you all about the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card and all the wonderful things that you can use your Starpoints for – such as hotel stays, flights, experiences, merchandise,etc. Well, AmEx and Starwood decided to really show me what you can do with Starpoints and that’s how I ended up with 100,000 Starpoints to use on a destination of my choosing.

Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market

My sister recently moved to Seattle and when I plugged in “Seattle” in the Starwood website, one of the hotels available was the W. There is a cool W here in Leicester Sq., which I’ve been to, so I knew I’d be in for a treat. I knew I wanted to visit Seattle but I thought if I’m going all the way to the West Coast, might as well make it worth my while. I went to university in San Diego and of course, there is a W in downtown San Diego. A quick search on the Starwood website and I was booked in for both hotels. 5 days in Seattle and 7 in San Diego – all courtesy of my Starpoints.

Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market at Christmas

Ferris Wheel, Seattle

Ferris Wheel, Seattle

I’d never been to Seattle so I really wasn’t sure what to expect other than rain and coffee but Seattle is a great city. Even though I arrived at Christmas time, there was still plenty to do in the city.

crowds at the original Starbucks

crowds at the original Starbucks

The first thing we did was check into the W – located a few blocks from Pike’s Market and the main shopping district, it was in a great location. Walking in, I was wowed by the high ceilings and vast lounge, the ‘Living Room’ that all W’s have. This one had a fireplace that was centre stage in the Living Room and made for a cosy welcome whenever we returned to the hotel. Our room was on the 22nd floor and we had a great view of the cityscape as well as the sea at the end of the road.

early morning view, my room, W Hotel

early morning view, my room, W Hotel, Seattle

Xmas in the market

Xmas in the market

As I was there over the holidays, Seattle was full of the Christmas Spirit. Our first stop was the famous Pike Place Market. Founded ¬†in 1907, it’s THE place to go for fresh seafood as well as having an artists market and lots of fresh fruit and veg. I love wandering around markets and this one was no exception.

fish for sale, Pike Place Market

fish for sale, Pike Place Market

me and Rachel the Pig, mascot of the market

me and Rachel the Pig, mascot of the market

Christmas Carousel, Seattle

Christmas Carousel, Seattle

There were plenty of cafe style restaurants to choose from and directly across the street, the very first Starbucks. We stumbled upon it when we were stopped by a huge queue blocking our way on the pavement. After sidestepping the queue, we discovered that it ended at Starbucks. There was a real carnival feel about it, lots of picture taking and there was even a folk band to entertain the punters while they waited.

at the Space Needle

at the Space Needle

Seattle monorail

Seattle monorail

Of course, we also had to visit the Space Needle. The Space Needle was erected for the 1962 World’s Fair but has since become the symbol of city and a landmark of the Pacific Northwest. There is an observation deck as well as a restaurant where you can dine 500 ft. There’s a great park surrounding the Needle with an IMAX theatre, museums and even an arena for musical acts to perform.

view from the 73rd floor of the Colombia Center

view from the 73rd floor of the Colombia Center, Puget Sound

looking down from the 73rd floor

looking down from the 73rd floor

We didn’t go to the top of the Needle because the day before we had visited the Colombia Center which is the tallest building in Seattle. Their observation deck is on the 73rd floor, which at nearly 1000 ft high is almost twice as tall as the Space Needle and even higher than the Shard here in London. We had great views at sunset and even had a view of a burning warehouse down below. Fortunately, nobody was injured but it did make for a bit of excitement to see the helicopters buzzing around below us.

Purple wine bar

Purple Cafe wine bar

Etta's Restaurant

Etta’s Restaurant, great brunch, near Pike Place Market

Seattle has plenty of great wine bars and restaurants as well. We visited the Purple Cafe and Wine bar one night, situated just down the road from the hotel, they have a great wine list with plenty of Washington wines to choose from. The W as well has a nice selection of Washington wines and every evening put on a Happy Hour for guests. How I miss Happy Hour! It was great to be able to come back to the hotel after a long day of being the tourist to relax around the Living Room fire. The staff at the W Seattle were extremely nice and friendly and when one of the concierges found out my next stop was San Diego, he helpfully called them to find out what their New Year’s celebrations were going to be, considering I was going to be there for New Year’s Eve.

sushi at Trace in the W Hotel

sushi at Trace in the W Hotel

street performer, Seattle

street performer, Seattle

I really enjoyed Seattle and would love to go back when the weather is a bit warmer. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait long for warm weather as the day after Christmas, I was on a plane headed for sunny and warm Southern California.

Living Room at W Hotel, San Diego

Living Room at W Hotel, San Diego

The W in San Diego was completely different from it’s Seattle counterpart but breathtaking nonetheless when you first walk in. I loved the fireplace in Seattle but San Diego had a more laid back, California feel to it, naturally. I especially liked the bar at the far end of the Living Room but even more, I loved the roof top pool and The Rooftop, their open air bar on the third floor.

fireplace on the Roof Bar at W Hotel, San Diego

fireplace on the Roof Bar at W Hotel, San Diego

At night they had an awesome bonfire which was a sculpture of jumbled chairs shooting out jets of fire to keep you warm. During the day, I used the deck as my own personal sun lounger, it was perfectly situated to catch the rays.

deck pool at the W Hotel, San Diego

sunning on the deck pool at the W Hotel, San Diego

The W is again right downtown, a short walk away from many of the shopping and eating attractions of downtown; Horton Plaza, Little Italy, the Gaslamp Quarter, Seaport Village, all within literally 5-10 minutes walk away. And if we wanted to venture further, there was a San Diego trolley stop just round the corner from the hotel where we could catch a tram to venture to Old Town San Diego or go south and hit Tijuana.

San Diego trolley

San Diego trolley

Old Town San Diego

Old Town San Diego

palm trees and Xmas trees, typical southern California

palm trees and Xmas trees, typical southern California

San Diego mission

San Diego mission

I spent a lot of time at Seaport Village in San Diego. A charming collection of shops and restaurants, it’s a great place to just relax and watch the tourists go by. It’s also a great spot to watch the sun dip down into the sea. One day while we were there, we caught the ferry to Coronado Island.

Coronado Ferry

Coronado Ferry

on the Coronado Ferry

on the Coronado Ferry

 

at the marina Seaport Village

at the marina Seaport Village

It’s only a short 5 minute cruise across the bay but Coronado is a world away. It really does feel like you are on an island. I didn’t think it was possible to be anymore laidback but Coronado shows that it is. There’s plenty to do at the Ferry landing on the ¬†Coronado side but we decided to visit the Hotel del Coronado, famous for having been the hotel used in the Marilyn Monroe movie, ‘Some Like it Hot’.

Hotel del Coronado

Hotel del Coronado ice skating rink

This being Southern California at Christmas time, of course they had set up an ice skating rink right in front of the hotel on the beach! It was 23 degrees that day but that didn’t stop people from trying to skate in what was essentially a puddle of water. The experience of watching ice skaters on in front of you and then turning around to the beach and seeing people sunbathing in swimsuits was surreal to say the least! Oh, I do miss Californians sometimes… ūüôā

New Year's on the beach

New Year’s on the beach

Another day we caught the tram to Old Town San Diego. Old Town actually a State Park and marks the early days of the city with many historic buildings dating back to 1820. There are plenty of gift shops sprinkled around the various museums on site as well as an old city cemetary on the outskirts of the park. Old Town also has some great Mexican restaurants and even though it’s very touristy, the food is good. As a matter of fact, you really have to try hard to find bad Mexican food in San Diego.

Seaport Village

Seaport Village

There is so much to do around downtown San Diego that I didn’t have enough time to go whale watching, visit SeaWorld, the San Diego Zoo or even the local wineries in the hills of Ramona, only a 40 minute drive away. I guess I’ll have to save those for my next trip to San Diego.

WW II memorial, San Diego Harbour

WW II memorial, San Diego Harbour

Seaport Village fountain

Seaport Village fountain

New Year's Day parade, San Diego

New Year’s Day parade, San Diego

All too soon it was time to get back on that plane to London but it was a great trip all in all. Going from Seattle to San Diego made it feel like I had two vacations in one, which in a sense I did. I used 98,000 of my 100,000 Starpoints, not bad considering the wonderful W hotels that I got to stay in while I was in the States.

California seagull

California seagull

The average number of points I needed for the W’s was 7,000 points. I could have used my points for meals, excursions, etc but it was far more worth it to me to be able to stay at the W using my Starpoints. If you’d like to know more about the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card and how you can start earning points to use on your next holiday, click here.

sunset over San Diego harbour

sunset over San Diego harbour

A huge thanks to American Express and Starwood for allowing me to not only have a great holiday but also to share it with my family and meet up with old friends.

 

American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card

American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card

 Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express Representative example: Representative 36.2% APR variable. Based on annual fee of £75 and assumed credit limit of £1200. Interest rate for purchases: 19.9% p.a. variable.

Applicants must be 18 years old or over.

Approval is subject to status and terms and conditions apply. The information relating to the financial information of the Card is the responsibility of American Express Services Europe Limited and SPG accepts no responsibility for inaccuracies. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc, registered in England and Wales is an introducer appointed representative for insurance mediation activities only, of American Express Insurance Services Europe Limited. The American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card is offered by American Express Services Europe Limited registered office: Belgrave House, 76 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 9AX, United Kingdom registered in England and Wales, Company Number 1833139, and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority under the Payment Services Regulations 2009 (reference number 415532) for the provision of payment services. American Express Services Europe Limited is an appointed representative for insurance mediation activities only, of American Express Insurance Services Europe Limited (reference number 311684) who is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Details can be found on the Financial Services Register. American Express Services Europe Limited also subscribes to the Lending Code which is monitored and enforced by the Lending Standards Board and is licensed by the Office of Fair Trading for the provision of credit products and related services.

 

 

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