Living That Cloudy Dream in Seattle
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14th Mar 2015
It seems Seattle didn’t get the memo announcing the demise of the American Dream. The emerald city is one of America’s fastest growing metro areas and has become a magnet for lifestyle testing around many types of cloud technology.
The result is a boomlet making Seattle home to many cloudy start-ups, with widespread integration of high-tech and a rapidly expanding IoT ecosystem anchored by Amazon and Microsoft. This all adds up to new cultural heft that makes Seattle feel very future forward.
Arriving into Sea-Tac, (the Seattle-Tacoma airport) is a breeze, but you’ll want to skip the public transportation. For such a small city (less than 700,000 residents) Seattle is extremely spread out, so what you really want to do is follow every single other person to the rental car centre, where you can pick up some wheels to get around. Public transportation and buses are not comprehensive here, so you need your thumb on Uber if you are not the driving type.
Once on the road you will discover Seattle is a driving city, with a collection of waterfront neighbourhoods featuring some of the best suburban architecture anywhere. Seattle feels new and modern, and homes you pass on the freeways soak up those beautiful Pacific northwest views - airy spaces and glass-front faces are the norm. As such, it is about the only place where gawking at residential architecture is a respectable activity while cruising freeways.
resting your head
Like everywhere, the heart of Seattle is ringed by cool up and coming neighbourhoods that feature a fantastic list of Airbnb offers. Capitol Hill, Queen Anne and Belltown lead the pack. Downtown is the iconic Ace Hotel, still a home for hipsters and genesis of a certain Pacific aesthetic that has yet to fully run its course. The Ace started down in Portland, but the Seattle property expresses a similar message, and that message is, “Look at this beard and get in line for artisanal coffee.”
For the less involved, the Hotel 1000 offers an upmarket take on high tech lifestyle, with a gorgeous property well suited to camping out all-day for meetings around their lobby cum fire-pit as you scroll Geek Wire. The other undisputed cool kid on the block is the Hotel Max, which recently went through a renovation to become a home for local artists and creatives with a focus on ultra-modern design. The bar here has quite the scene and the location is impeccable, right in the middle of the action.
Seattle does a good balance between west-coast tech elitism and fisherman’s astute simplicity. This is reflected in the lingual cuisine: delicious but not too pretentious. It does seem Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s are locked into an organic oligopoly, but Tom Douglas is king of the haute and hip with the Yucatan inspired Cantina Lena, Hot Stove Society, and Dahlia Lounge.
On the more simple side, check out the well established Pink Door for Italian, down by the Pikes Place Market - which by the way is simply a must-do for brunch browsing on the weekends.
Other spots of note include Wild Ginger and Mamas’ Kitchen, which are on the case for small groups or a business team dinner, or the BluWater Bistro, which has good brunch and comfort food with sea-planes landing in the water while you nosh.
Seattle is a city for enjoying dark and cozy places at night and sweating it out on a run the next day. This is not a clubby city, but instead offers a lot on pubs to play cards, live music by dirt bands, and gritty dive bars where its hard to tell if the patrons are longshoremen from the docks or sugar bears from Tinder. Those mysteries make conversation all the more interesting after a third pint of craft ale.
The 5 Point Cafe in now trendy Belltown was the first bar in the country to ban Google Glass, which says it all. Also: Twilight Exit and Linda’s Tavern. If you're into carnival rides and craft beer, the Unicorn in Capitol Hill features sections of a creepy dismantled carousel to keep you tossing and turning later at night.
Meanwhile, the rest of the city appears to be dating their Fitbit, enjoying gorgeous views, miles of integrated cycling paths, and the Burke-Gilman trail, which winds its ways up down and around the city and its many bays. People here are fit and active, and with such fresh air and beautiful views, an enthusiasm for Lululemon running tights and ponytails is contagious.
All in all, today’s Seattle feels like a perfect little place. The mix of London’s weather, Sydney’s topography, and Silicon Valley’s smarts make for a wonderful quality of life that for both visitors and locals does feel like a dream come true. As they locals say: Seattle doesn't settle.