Wondering where to stay in Seattle? It is a good question. The city has many different neighborhoods, and each has its own unique atmosphere and culture. In fact, its different neighborhoods are partly what gives this west coast city its charm.
There are many factors to consider when choosing where to stay in Seattle – including whether you want a central location, proximity to certain tourist attractions, or a spot on the Seattle waterfront. Seattle is a major city with lots to research before you visit.
Where to Stay in Seattle
If you want a quick answer for where to stay in Seattle for first timers, we’d recommend Downtown Seattle.
Downtown Seattle is ideal for those exploring Seattle on a weekend city break, as its hotels are within walking distance of most tourist attractions. The Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Aquarium, and Olympic Sculpture Park are just a few of Seattle’s Downtown area attractions. You’ll be able to maximize your time in Seattle by having the best things to do and see on your doorstep.
We’ve compiled a guide to all the best areas and hotels to stay in when visiting Seattle. These are the best places to stay in Seattle, from budget-friendly hotels to luxury getaways.
Best Hotels in Seattle
Best Seattle Nieghborhoods for Tourists
Within Downtown Seattle, there are a few different smaller neighborhoods. The most popular are Pike Place Market, Belltown, and Pioneer Square. However, you can let your hotel choice guide you since these little neighborhoods are close.
So, to get straight into the nitty-gritty details, let’s take a look at which areas you should stay in Seattle.
- Downtown Seattle – is perfect for first-time visitors to Seattle. is the most centrally located and is best if you want to be just a few blocks from attractions. It includes Pioneer Square, Pike Place, and Belltown.
- South Lake Union – Best for families and first-time visitors to Seattle. South Lake Union is just north of Seattle center – perfect if you want to be a short distance from the city center and is one of the safest neighborhoods in Seattle.
- Capitol Hill – Best for nightlife, culture and LGBTQ scene in Seattle. Capitol Hill is in east Seattle and is where you’ll find Seattle’s LGBTQ+ scene and plenty of cultural attractions plus it has great nightlife in Seattle.
- The University District – Best place to stay in Seattle on a budget. University District is north of the city center and is Seattle’s most international district, with many students and trendy restaurants and cafes.
- Queen Anne – is in north Seattle and is a great place to stay in Seattle for families. It is home to the Space Needle and has a reputation as Seattle’s most modernized neighborhood.
- Ballard – Ballard is a good neighborhood to stay in Seattle for foodies and for a local vibe. If you have been to Seattle before and want a different experience, this is the place.
We’d recommend Downtown Seattle, the University District, South Lake Union, Capitol Hill, and Queen Anne. These Seattle neighborhoods are the best for tourists and have important qualities and characteristics to improve your trip.
1. Downtown Seattle
As we mentioned, Downtown Seattle is definitely where to stay in Seattle if you are planning a short weekend city break. However, being within walking distance of amazing attractions is a bonus that everyone should consider, regardless of how long you stay.
Downtown Seattle sits along Elliott Bay. The Seattle waters are called the Puget Sound and are located in the Pacific Northwest – an inlet of the Pacific Ocean. Downtown Seattle is the perfect waterfront base, combining views over the Puget Sound and the Seattle skyline.
Worried about only finding luxury and boutique hotels? Don’t be. Staying Downtown is a luxury you can actually afford. The neighborhood is full of the best hotels in Seattle, most of which won’t break the bank.
Picked from the best Belltown hotels, the best Pioneer Square hotels, and the best Pine Place Market hotels, these are our favorite Downtown hotels in Seattle.
Get your Seattle CityPASS which includes admission to 5 of Seattle’s most famous attractions including the Seattle Space Needle and Aquarium, plus your choice of Museum of Pop Culture, Woodland Park Zoo, Chihuly Garden & Glass, Argosy Cruises and Harbor Tour.
Best Hotels in Downtown Seattle
Luxury: Four Seasons Hotel Seattle
The Four Seasons is a chain that requires no introduction. The luxury hotel chain has five-star hotels across the globe, and Seattle has its very own – the Four Seasons Hotel Seattle.
From the rooftop terrace and infinity pool, guests can spend their downtime relaxing with a cocktail while overlooking Elliott Bay. While inside, a spa and gym call. If you want luxury in central Seattle, the Four Seasons is where to stay.
The Four Seasons Hotel Seattle is brilliantly located in the city center, just a five-minute walk from Pike Place Market. However, you won’t have to walk that far for food, as you can sample Pacific Northwest cuisine at Goldfinch Tavern, the hotel’s in-house restaurant. Check out availability and rates on TripAdvisor / Booking
Mid-Range: Courtyard Seattle
If you like the look of the Four Seasons but not the price tag, Courtyard Seattle is a luxurious but slightly cheaper property to book.
You are an easy walk away from most of Seattle’s attractions, excellently located in Pioneer Square. We’d especially advise choosing Courtyard Seattle for first-time visitors, as Pioneer Square makes a great first base in the city. You are staying in the thick of things at this property – an ideal scenario for a city break.
Guests receive access to an indoor pool, free Wi-Fi, and a gym. We’d recommend visiting Central Saloon for a drink in the evening, as it is Seattle’s oldest drinking hole. But, if you don’t want to explore the historic bars Pioneer Square has on offer, you can always relax at the hotel bar instead. Check out availability and rates on TripAdvisor / Booking
Budget: Green Tortoise Hostel Seattle
Of course, if you want budget accommodation, hostels are usually the best option. Green Tortoise Hostel Seattle is no exception to this rule.
Breakfast? Wi-Fi? Both are included in your room price. Plus you’ll get access to a kitchen and a common room. You can choose from a variety of private and dormitory rooms, some female-only.
Green Tortoise has a fantastic location and is only a three-minute walk from Pike Place Market. Green Tortoise is budget-friendly and well-situated. What more could you ask for? Check out availability and rates on TripAdvisor / Booking
Staying at an apartment near Pikes Place? Book this highly-rated market tour that includes 9 stops for small bites and tastings. You’ll enjoy Mac N Chees and Yogurt plus Pike Place Clam Chowder. Sample Seattle’s Rainier cherry and see where local chefs by their food. At the end receive a 10% discount to purchase your own ingredients to make at your apartment rental. More details here.
Apartment: Penthouse above Pike Place Market
This penthouse apartment is ideal if you want a luxury vacation rental. Positioned on the 26th floor of a massive five-star high rise, the apartment provides sweeping views of Seattle and excellent facility access.
You’ll be able to use the gym, hot tub, sauna, and indoor pool. Plus, you’ll have access to a 24-hour concierge service. The penthouse has a hotel feel thanks to all its amenities and is a great base if you want to stay near Pike Place Market. Check rates and availability
Things to do in Downtown Seattle
While staying Downtown, we recommend visiting the famous Pike Place Market. For those thinking, hold on, isn’t Pike Place Market a neighborhood in Downtown Seattle? You are absolutely correct. However, Pike Place Market gets its name from the farmers market in its center. Pop by, and you’ll find locally sourced produce and artisan foods. For foodies, visiting Pike Place Market is one of Seattle’s best things to do.
On a sunny day, prioritize outdoor attractions like Olympic Sculpture Park. However, if the weather looks miserable, we’d recommend visiting Seattle Art Museum, Pacific Science Center, and Seattle Aquarium. On a rainy or cold day, it is great being able to quickly dash to these indoor attractions. Even if you stay on the outskirts, you can easily hop on the light rail for a stop or two.
2. South Lake Union
Not everyone likes to be in the thick of things. But if you want to balance a relaxing atmosphere with easy access to the Seattle Center, South Lake Union is a great compromise.
Unlike how Downtown Seattle overlooks the Puget Sound, South Lake Union sits on Lake Union’s shores. You’ll still get waterfront views, just slightly set back from the main tourist crowds. The neighborhood is a place that even locals retreat to and is a popular spot for corporate workers to go bar hopping after work. Leafy, waterfront, and trendy, South Lake Union is as cool and relaxing as central neighborhoods get in Seattle. And, it is easy to understand why Seattle is referred to as the Emerald City.
We’ve carefully picked the following properties as our best South Lake Union hotels.
Best Hotels in South Lake Union
Luxury: Pan Pacific Hotel Seattle
If you are chasing luxury, the Pan Pacific is where to find it. Whether you are visiting for work or pleasure, the hotel has some of the best facilities in South Lake. Separate work and play by attending to business in the special business room – not your hotel desk. While to indulge in some self-care, head to the fitness center to work up a sweat.
You can pick from deluxe rooms to suites with balconies and private city views. Take your time to scan through the room options, as each has slightly different qualities and views to consider. If you specifically want a view of Space Needle, the ‘King Corner Suite’ is a great choice. Check out availability and rates on TripAdvisor / Booking
Mid-Range: Moxy Seattle Downtown
Want the quality without the big spend? Moxy is the best mid-range hotel in South Lake.
The interior design oozes class but trendiness, with a sleek grey color scheme and wooden features throughout the property. If you want a cool, hip place to stay in Seattle, Moxy is the one for you.
Moxy has free Wi-Fi, a fitness center, and laundry services. In short, it has everything you might need on an escape to Seattle, and the trendy atmosphere is a huge bonus. Check out availability and rates on TripAdvisor / Booking
Budget: Silver Cloud Inn
If Silver Cloud Inn seems like a luxe budget hotel, it is because it is. It may seem a little pricey compared to others in our where to stay in Seattle guide. However, Silver Cloud Inn is easily the best budget-friendly hotel in South Lake. The area has many expensive hotels and also lots of cheap hotels with poor reviews, so Silver Cloud is your best choice.
Each room features a microwave and refrigerator – perfect for saving money by avoiding cafes and restaurants. Guests also have coffee-making facilities in each room, so you can start your day with a caffeine fix. Most room options include a continental breakfast as well. Check out availability and rates on TripAdvisor / Booking
Apartment: Modern Condo with Space Needle View
This condo is best for those who love a good view. As a cozy one-bedroom apartment, this condo is best suited for couples or solo travelers. It is small but sweet, and from the dining table, you’ll look out over Space Needle, Lake Union, and Mt Rainer.
The unique aspect of this rental property is that they offer long-term leases. You can stay for a month, three months, six months, or a year. If you want to visit Seattle longer term, definitely consider this apartment. See rates and availability
Things to do in South Lake Union Seattle
When in the South Lake Union neighborhood, visit the Museum of History & Industry. The museum introduces Seattle’s story and is a great way to brush up on local knowledge when visiting Seattle. Afterward, you can wander the twelve-acre Lake Union Park – perhaps stopping for a bite to eat at the Italian restaurant Buca di Beppo when you’ve finished.
- Book this harbor cruise for a narrated 1-hour tour to see one of the world’s largest shipping terminals and many of Seattles top attractions including the Space Needle and the surrounding Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges.
South Lake is a great spot to stay in Seattle. You are just a short ride on the light rail away from attractions in Seattle Center like Pike Place Market and Smith Tower. However, you’ll discover a slightly quieter lakeside area of the city. The South Lake Union district is seen as Seattle’s business center. However, while it is busy during rush hours, crowds pass quickly, leaving as a relaxing place to explore Seattle most of the time.
3. Capitol Hill
Love vibrant neighborhoods and outgoing nightlife? Capitol Hill is where to stay in Seattle. It has the best nightlife out of all our Seattle neighborhoods.
This east Seattle area is residential, indie, and extremely LGBTQ+ friendly. Capitol Hill is where you’ll find gay nightclubs, the Seattle Asian Art Museum, and more coffee shops than you could possibly count. If you want somewhere that you can retreat to for laidback nightlife or an afternoon reading in a coffee shop, Capitol Hill is your best bet.
So, are you ready to explore the best places to stay in Capitol Hill? The neighborhood is one of the best places to stay in Seattle and has great accommodation options to match its fun-loving reputation. These are our favorite properties – from five-star hotels to vacation rentals.
Best Hotels in Capitol Hill Seattle
Luxury: EVEN Hotel Seattle
EVEN Hotel is located on the outskirts of Capitol Hill on the boundary with South Lake. But don’t let that put you off, as EVEN Hotel is a dreamy luxury hotel in the neighborhood. All rooms have a seating area which gives them a suite feel. The wellness room choices provide fitness kits, too, with some even featuring stationary bikes so you can work out in private.
If you have work to attend to, there are business rooms that you can book free of charge. And, if you want to relax outside in warm weather, there are barbecue facilities and a sun terrace to enjoy. Check out availability and rates on TripAdvisor / Booking
Mid-Range: Cecil Bacon Manor
A mid-range bed and breakfast may not be what first sprung to your mind. But staying at Cecil Bacon Manor is an option that everyone should have.
Homely but luxurious, Cecil Bacon Manor is full of shared spaces – from a lounge area with a grand piano to a dining room with a long table and chandelier. The manor is one of the best hotels if you want a historic stay in Seattle. Plus, just in case you weren’t sold already, you get free parking, toiletries, and Wi-Fi. And a continental breakfast is served daily downstairs. Check out availability and rates on TripAdvisor / Booking
Budget: Gaslight Inn
Looking for value for money in Capitol Hill? Gaslight Inn is our recommendation. With a terrace, swimming pool, and free Wi-Fi, you really can’t go wrong staying at Gaslight Inn. Most room options include a continental breakfast too, which is great value for money.
Guests can choose from a generous selection of deluxe rooms and suites. Some of these room and suite options feature private balconies and terraces. Check out availability and rates on TripAdvisor / Booking
Apartment: Condo with Private Courtyard
This condo is a self-proclaimed romantic escape. It is tastefully decorated with wooden details and furnishings. The master bedroom features exposed beams and a red brick feature wall at the bedhead.
The property also has a private courtyard with a stone patio and wooden outdoor furniture – perfect for sitting with a glass of wine and having an evening conversation. This VRBO property is the best in Capitol Hill if you want indoor and outdoor space. See rates and availability.
Things to do in Capitol Hill
While Capitol Hill is a twenty-minute ride away from Downtown attractions like Pike Place Market and Smith Tower, there is still plenty to do within the suburb. Bruce Lee and his son, Brandon Lee, are buried in Volunteer Park – a huge green space in the neighborhood center. Visitors can pay respects at their graves, which is a must-do for any martial arts fans.
The graves are close to the Seattle Asian Art Museum and Volunteer Park Conservatory. Volunteer Park is also home to the Black Sun, a striking black sculpture by Isamu Noguchi. Volunteer Park is one of the best places to spend a whole day, as it has a variety of different attractions and things to see inside. Pack a picnic and soak up all the activities.
Of course, Capitol Hill is also located adjacent to Lake Washington, which is handy if you want to spend time on the water. Lake Washington is the second largest lake in Washington and a great spot for a boat trip. There are several attractions along its shores, including the Seattle Japanese Garden.
4. University District
Okay, the University District (aka U District) is not where to stay in Seattle if you want to be within walking distance from the Seattle Center. But, if you don’t mind a twenty-five-minute commute, you’ll be rewarded with a rich international culture and student atmosphere.
The district gets its name from the University of Washington. The neighborhood surrounds the University of Washington campus, encompassing a few parks, galleries, and museums. It has a diverse, cheerful, and academic atmosphere – which you might just love. Younger visitors should especially find the area a friendly place to stay in Seattle, and solo travelers should easily make friends. Those traveling on a budget will enjoy the low-cost eateries too, which are aimed at local students but can be enjoyed by everyone.
Best Hotels in University Neighborhood Seattle
The university neighborhood is easily one of Seattle’s best places to stay. Don’t come to Seattle without at least considering one of the following hotels. These are the best U District hotels.
Luxury: Residence Inn by Marriott Seattle
Residence Inn is set aside by its indoor pool, business, and fitness studio. The inn features sofa seating areas in every room – giving a suite feel even if you don’t book a suite. Residence Inn’s luxury is sensible, with facilities and a design that makes sense.
The interior is fresh and modern and perfect for a luxurious city getaway. The hotel is also well-located for sightseeing and centrally located in the U District. Residence Inn is just a four-minute walk from Burke Museum of Natural History & Culture. Check rates and availability on TripAdvisor / Booking
Mid-Range: Silver Cloud Hotel
Silver Cloud Hotel is reasonably priced and has great facilities. If you don’t want to skimp on facilities and amenities but still have a budget to keep, Silver Cloud is for you.
Each room has a microwave, refrigerator, and coffee machine. But, if you can wait a little longer for your morning coffee, you can make the most of a daily continental breakfast too. After breakfast, you can work a sweat up in the gym or head straight out to enjoy Seattle. Check rates and availability on TripAdvisor / Booking
Budget: College Inn Hotel
Fancy reliving your college experience? Except maybe slightly more luxuriously. College Inn Hotel is a great budget hotel option.
College Inn has a range of suites, studios, and a few basic room choices. Guests receive free Wi-Fi and access to a shared lounge and in-house café. Overall, College Inn is a well-located and comfortable place to stay in the U district. Check rates and availability on TripAdvisor / Booking
Apartment: Modern Studio Apartment
This apartment is centrally located and a quick walk from the University Village and campus. Ideal if you want a vacation rental in the midst of the U District action, this apartment is also on the locked off lower floor of a three-bedroom house – which is fantastic for solo travelers wanted added security.
The studio has everything you need for an enjoyable stay. You’ll have free Wi-Fi, a fully equipped kitchen, and a television to use. For a comfortable rental, this is your best option in the area. See rates and availability
Things to do in University Neighborhood Seattle
When you aren’t whisking off sightseeing around Seattle, there are lots to keep you entertained in the district. Visit the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture or the Unity Museum for a culture fix. While if you are an art lover, Henry Art Gallery is the attraction for you.
Even if you are worn out from all the attractions and sightseeing, the neighborhood has relaxing entertainment options for you. The University Village Shopping Center is fantastic for when you just want to shop, eat, and take a break from being a tourist. The center is Seattle’s ‘only outdoor lifestyle shopping center’ and the perfect place to spend a morning. Wander the boutique shops, grab a cocktail, or purchase a small home furnishing as a Seattle souvenir.
5. Queen Anne
Finally, East and West Queen Anne are primarily residential areas. The districts are joined by Queen Anne Avenue, a street known for business and corporate ventures. You’ll find coffee shops and bars, but, mostly, they are just known for being relaxing neighborhoods on the West Coast of Seattle. The best part about the East and West sections is that they aren’t too far from the city center and best attractions either.
Considering its regal name, it is no surprise that Seattle’s Queen Anne Hill neighborhood is considered one of the most upscale areas in the city. It is also one of the largest suburbs and is split into four sections. You’ll have North, South, East, and West Queen Anne to choose between when visiting.
The Southern District is also referred to as Lower Queen Anne and is within walking distance of Seattle Center and the downtown area. Here, you’ll find the best Seattle skyline views and Space Needle – a 605 feet observation tower famous for Seattle’s cityscape. We’d highly recommend visiting Space Needle on your first day. You’ll have a useful (and beautiful) vantage point over the city that should help you visualize the city layout better. So, with all that in mind, what are the best hotels? Check out these options.
Best Hotels in Queen Anne
Luxury: The Edgewater Hotel
Lower Queen Anne does luxury, and it does it well. The Edgewater Hotel is a testament to this. The four-star property sits right on the waterfront overlooking Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. And apart from having some of the best views in West Seattle, guests can admire the European design influence throughout the hotel.
Edgewater also has a gym, in-house gift shop, in-house restaurant, and a coffee bar – so you’ll be well cared for without even needing to step outside the hotel. If you decide to head out and explore, use the complimentary shuttle service, which transports you anywhere within Downtown Seattle. See rates and availability on TripAdvisor / Booking.com
Mediterranean Inn has a rooftop patio with some of the best views in Seattle. It is just 10 minutes from the Seattle Space Needle and is just 2km from Pikes Place Market making it an excellent place to stay in Seattle.
There is parking on site and they feature Starbucks coffee in the Lobby. It’s a good option for couples or families on a road trip as each guest room has a kitchenette. See rates and availability on TripAdvisor / Booking.com
Budget: City Hostel Seattle
For budget accommodation in West Seattle, look no further than City Hostel Seattle. The hostel sits on the border with Downtown Seattle but is the only well-reviewed hostel in the area – so don’t let that put you off.
The vibe is funky and cool, with street art and aesthetic graffiti featured throughout the hotel. You can choose between dormitory rooms or private rooms, so City Hostel is suited to couples, solo travelers, and even families. See rates and availability on TripAdvisor
Apartment: Studio with Garden
This studio is a dreamy place to stay in Seattle. We think that quality outdoor and indoor spaces are equally important, and clearly, the owners of this property agree. The studio has a rustic feel – not unlike the cabins in remote Washington. If you want a romantic, relaxing place to stay in West Seattle, this property is an ideal candidate.
The studio is in the backyard of a 1904 home and features a private patio and shared garden space. You’ll have privacy from the rest of the world in the shared garden, with tall green hedges enclosing the space. You’ll also have use of barbecue facilities which are perfect on a sunny day. There is a water fountain feature and a comfy seating area on your private patio. See Rates and Availability
Things to do in Queen Anne
Aside from Space Needle, Lower Queen Anne is home to the Seattle Children’s Museum. Lower Queen Anne is one of the best places to stay in Seattle and is full of educational, age-appropriate activities for families. Kerry Park is also a great spot to visit on a sunny day, and the Museum of Pop Culture. The Museum of Pop Culture is located next to Space Needle, so we recommend combining the two.
North Queen Anne is best if you want a quiet experience, distant from the Seattle Center. This neighborhood is home to Seattle Pacific University and, in term time, has a gentle, friendly student atmosphere. You’ll find the district a very laidback, peaceful place to stay in Seattle outside of term time. It is best suited to those who don’t want a hectic city experience but would like the option to commute into Seattle a few times.
If you are a foodie, you may want to choose the Ballard Neighborhood to stay in Seattle. It’s a little farther out of the downtown core, but you’ll find some of the best restaurants in Seattle here. If you are looking for a local vibe and have visited Seattle before, the Ballard Neighborhood is a great option.
Things to see in Ballard besides its fine restaurants are The Nordic Heritage Museum, Golden Gardens Beach Park and Discovery Park. There are Craft Breweries, the Shilshole Bay Marina, and Ballard Locks and there is a weekly farmers market.
Best Places to Stay in Ballard
Mid-Range: Hotel Ballard
Hotel Ballard is mid-range price-wise but luxurious in quality. While it located a little farther out, it is one of the best hotels in Seattle if you want to splurge but still have a budget in mind.
Admire the Olympic Mountains from the rooftop or head downstairs to swim in the romantically dimly lit pool. Hotel Ballard is a boutique hotel by name and nature – full of plush comforts and thoughtful details. Guests receive access to a 24-hour concierge service, room service, and all facilities at the Olympic Athletic Club.
Ballard Inn is Ballard’s premier boutique inn located in a restored 1902 building that was converted into a hotel. There is a gym, pool and hot tub, plus a sauna. It is close to the Ballard Locks, local beaches and Golden Gardens Park. See availability on TripAdvisor / Booking.com
Ballard Bliss Studio is located 7 km from Seattle Center. This apartment has a garden, free WiFi and a fully equipped kitchenette. . This apartment is 10 km from Lumen Field and 5 km from Smith Cove Cruise Terminal at Pier 91. You can check it out at Ballard Bliss Studio on VRBO
Seattle is full of incredible hotels and vacation rentals to suit all budgets. The spectrum of options is impressive and leaves visitors with plenty of choices.
The variety of views also makes Seattle’s hotel scene stand out. Seattle has a hotel to meet your request, whether you want to overlook the Space Needle, look out at the Pacific Northwest, or spot the Olympic Mountains through your bedroom window.
Take your time to choose accommodation in Seattle. The city is full of golden hotels to sift through, and you don’t want your best hotel slipping through the net.
*Apartment photos courtesy of VRBO.com