My first stay at the Hotel Monaco Seattle was many years ago and the only memorable part of the stay was the goldfish “Talula” that was placed in our room. Memorable because we had a pet for the night but also because we had just seen “Saving Nemo” at the movies and when we came back to the hotel we wanted to set Talula free. As you can see from the title “a comedy of errors” the Assistant Hotel Manager’s assessment, my Seattle visit would again be memorable but not in a good way. My vacation would end on a sour note as they say.
I booked the Seattle portion of my trip ten days before arrival so it was last minute and as such, the availability was tight and prices high. I searched everywhere to find a low rate in the city and the Hotel Monaco was $261.75 on Priceline, so I called Kimpton reservations and using the Rate Guarantee booked at this rate which would also provide a $25 voucher upon check-in to use at the restaurant. Three days after the booking, I received an email to add my name to the eStandby Upgrade list for as little as $10 a night (I declined the offer as I was already over budget).
The hotel is situated on 4th Avenue which is a good location – within walking distance of the Seattle Library (across the street), Speciality’s Coffee/Cookies (down the hill) and a short walk to Pike Place Market, The Seattle Art Museum and major shopping. Starbucks is on the block and the W Hotel is across the street.
I would arrive by cab at 4:30 pm. No staff was visible outside the hotel to welcome me or assist with luggage. As I only had a carry-on wheel bag, I was ok, but if i had cruise ship luggage and needed help, absent staff is a problem.
The front desk check-in was friendly and welcoming. I was given my $25 voucher from the Best Rate Guarantee as well as a bottle of wine for saying “Bicycle” (July secret word). I could see the concierge desk was empty and asked the front desk if she could find him as I needed him to book my morning tour. She wasn’t sure where he was so had another concierge help me. He booked my Whale Watching tour online and I asked for a few suggestions for someone who has been to the city before – what options are available after the normal tourist things? He had a blank look -apparently, i stumped him! With ten minutes before I was to meet a friend, I asked if he could do some research and leave it with the front desk for me to pick up later.
The Standard Room
The Kimpton hotels are known for their quirky decor. My room had a connecting door which was locked but not soundproof of the guests next door (i wanted to give him a decongestant at one point). The room was a good size due to the two double beds with a long glass table to serve as desk/minibar/tv area. The bathroom was fine, just don’t stare at the wallpaper too long.
With a $10 “raid the minibar” credit, I checked out the offerings and a few were stale dated. Not a good sign when this is not checked, one item was more than a month past its “use by” date. I opted for my friend “Fred” and used the credit for small and large bottles of Fred Spring Water
I visited for breakfast two days and for dinner one night. Service for breakfast was wonderfully attentive and the portion size was perfect. Service at 8pm dinner on a pretty empty Tuesday night wasn’t as attentive as the breakfast team. The food choices were plentiful for both breakfast and dinner which is good if you need to eat here more than once during your stay. I felt that the prices were reasonable, food tasty and the chocolate dessert was fantastic.
Prior to arrival, I contacted the concierge for suggestions, he was quite responsive to the query. I then wanted to book my Whale Watching tour through him, figuring that he would get a small commission from the booking. We started email tag while I was in Portland and when he said to email my credit card information (unsafe!), I called direct to talk with him. He was not there so i left a voicemail message on Sunday night. He did not call on Monday and was nowhere to be found upon arrival or for that matter during my entire stay -the desk remained empty. As noted above, the other concierge booked the trip online (which I could have done from Portland prior to arrival) and then never left suggestions with the front desk during my stay as I had requested. The Concierge team disappointed me (they need a bit of Portland magic).
On two nights, i went to the lobby for the wine social. The wine was environmental “green wine” and quite good. Each night was crowded with guests. I wish that all of the Kimptons did a bit more to make guests mingle so that solo guests are not sitting alone. One night with no seats available, I took my wine back to my room before dinner.
My problems or “comedy of errors” not listed above
The Wake Up Call – With an early start, I requested a 5:30 am wake up call with the front desk (the calls are not automated, you get a live person). My alarm went off at 5:30 am but the phone did not ring. As the phone is across the room at the desk, you are required to get out of bed to answer. I waited until 5:45 am. When I inquired at the front desk, I was told that according to the log he called me. I asked “Did you talk to me, did I answer?”, he replied “Most guests don’t answer”. So i guess this was a “Hope you hear the phone ringing, don’t think you are dreaming and get up” call. Later, when I talked to the front desk, I was told the standard is three calls – the log showed one for me. I think the standard should be when the guest answers “Hello”.
Housekeeping – I declined the first day and was given a $5 food voucher. The next day I opted for housekeeping and I’m not sure what they did – I do know that they did not sweep the bathroom floor, clean the tub, replace the towels nor did they fully make the beds (putting all of the decorative pillows and stuffed animal on the unused bed is a shortcut).
The taxi incident – With an early tour start, I needed to leave by 7/7:15 am and inquired the night before if I should pre-order a cab. The front desk person (same one I booked the wake up call with) said no, there is a cab stand and should be easy to get. You know where this is going….cut to the morning, no taxi at the stand, I’ve finished breakfast and ask to order me a cab while I run back to my room for my backpack. Returning to the lobby, the same front desk person said he called two companies and was not sure if they will come in time. The bellman walks me out front and says “It’s hard to get a cab in the city, especially this early”. The front desk guy failed me three times on his one shift.
Looking into the street, the bellman (the only one I saw during my stay) sees no cabs, so being ever helpful, he points to the cab stand across the street on the corner and tells me I can get a cab there. He walks with me across the street and I get into the back of the cab. At this point, the cabbie starts yelling at the bellman about coming over to the W Hotel taxi stand to give him a local passenger. He continues to yell as I sit in the backseat (of course I’m very uncomfortable during this exchange so I take photos of the “complaints phone number” on the taxi window) and the bellman then exchanges words with the cabbie before walking back to the hotel. Yes, let’s review – the Hotel Monaco bellman walked me across the street to the W Hotel (a competitor hotel) taxi stand and a war of words ensued. Great way to start my day.
The cabbie drives me to the pier and explains his side of the story -that the cabs don’t like the hotel because they send guests by towncar to the airport and only give the local rides to the cabs (they of course, want the higher fare airport rides). He said, cabs will pass the hotel and will not use the taxi stand (in three days i would see only one cab at the stand the entire time, my friend would observe available cabs passing the hotel). I told the cabbie that as a visitor to the city, his personal exchange with the bellman made me feel uncomfortable and was unprofessional- he apologized. I told him what the hotel told me – I couldn’t order a cab the night before and when they called this morning were not given confirmation of when a cab would come. He said that was incorrect, gave me the cab dispatch card and said “you can order a cab anytime”. I asked if i had walked over to him without the bellman would he have been so upset – he said “no”. So who is right in this cab issue? (the hotel assistant manager would tell me he was unaware of this and would investigate).
Back at the Front Desk
When I returned to the hotel after my day tour, I told the front desk girl of all of the issues (taxi/bellman, concierge, wake-up call) that had occurred in my first 24 hours at the hotel and she said “Sorry, that is not our standard” and was typing into the computer (I thought she was filling out an incident report for the manager). I then inquired about going to the hospital/ER (see this post) and was disappointed that they weren’t able to be very helpful (this was an odd request, but how hard is it to have a file or information tear sheet available for guests?)
During my stay, I was not contacted by a manager to discuss my issues. Upon check-out, I asked for the manager’s card and was given the Assistant Manager’s card. I contacted him by email and with no reply after four days, called the hotel directly. I talked with the day manager who passed my information onward again saying “that’s not our standard”. The Assistant Manager emailed me right away to apologize (my email was in his spam folder) and again “not their standard”. We arranged to chat on the phone the next day – I reiterated my concerns and he apologized again saying “that is not our standard” and “thanks for bringing this to my attention”. I told him that I did not feel welcome at the hotel. He said “it was a comedy of errors” and not what they are known for. I paid a lot of money for this “comedy of errors” and nothing was funny about it.
The only thing everyone seemed to know and repeat was “that’s not our standard” – I’d like to know what the standard is. To have so many points of service fail me during my short stay was disappointing to say the least especially as this was my vacation – a very expensive “comedy of errors” for me. If you just need a bed in a good location and don’t care about service, stay at the Monaco. For me, Seattle offers a variety of hotel options, I will stay elsewhere next visit – maybe at the W? I hear you can easily get a taxi there.