Even frequent travelers might be forgiven if they haven’t heard of the Lotte Hotels brand before.
Unless they’re familiar with Asia, particularly South Korea.
Lotte Hotels & Resorts was founded in the early 1970s in South Korea, part of one of the country’s largest multinational conglomerates, with interests ranging from fast food to heavy industry. Early growth was measured—the brand didn’t expand outside South Korea until 2010.
In 2015, Lotte entered the US market with the acquisition of Manhattan’s storied New York Palace Hotel, which it renamed the Lotte New York Palace. However, wanting to preserve the hotel’s iconic nature, Lotte made few changes.
The Lotte Hotel Seattle, which opened in September 2020, is the brand’s second foothold in the contiguous United States (Lotte also manages a property on Guam). The Lotte Seattle Hotel is notable for being the brand’s first property to be fully managed in the brand’s signature style.
Considering Asian luxury hotels The Peninsula and Mandarin Oriental among their brand peers, the experience at The Lotte Hotel Seattle is one of international luxury with distinctly Korean execution.
Staff acknowledge guests (and each other) with bows, and the guest experience is choreographed with expert efficiency. Guest preferences are noted from pre-arrival e-mails, and they can also chat with hotel staff via text for whatever needs they may have during their stay.
Occupying the first 16 floors of Seattle’s F5 Tower, the hotel also includes The Sanctuary among its public spaces. The refurbishment of the 1907 vintage First United Methodist Church adjacent the tower and seamlessly connected to its glass lobby is used by the hotel as function space, with much of the original gallery and pipe organ preserved.
The 16th floor is the buzzing hub of the hotel, which includes the lobby and Charlotte Restaurant and Bar (the Lotte name derives from Charlotte, after a character in a Goethe novel). Eye-catching designs figure heavily here, with bright blond woods and tables with mix-and-match collections of statement chairs that coordinate so well it takes a moment to realize they’re all different.
The bar serves up habit-forming cocktails on chic leather embossed coasters alongside house-made pickles. One particular smoked cocktail is so fragrant it often has other patrons inquiring if another guest is smoking nearby, and as good as it smells, I couldn’t resist trying the Sakura Blossom, a crisp, floral potion of gin, Sakura, grapefruit bitters, elderflower and pea flower.
For dinner, it was three unforgettable courses including a pleasantly botanical gazpacho served over mussels, fresh pasta with locally foraged mushrooms and Alaskan halibut with a citrus tapioca. Fans of the Northwest’s varied bounty will certainly feel at home dining at Charlotte, whether in the main dining room or in one of the sumptuous private dining rooms (one of which features a playful portrait of Audrey Hepburn from Breakfast at Tiffany’s—the shape of the F5 Tower is said to be modeled on her silhouette).
Guest room spaces retain some of the avant-garde art touches of the brand that had contracted to manage the hotel before Lotte. Several of these were toned down or refreshed after the acquisition, but there’s a cunning psychology behind the design. Corridors have a rather disarming palette of reds, oranges and blacks, but behind guestroom doors wait airy, light, neutral tones that seem even brighter after the mysterious corridors.
Guest rooms get plenty of natural light from floor-to-ceiling windows, and many of them share the same views of Puget Sound and Smith Tower that co-star alongside the cuisine in Charlotte.
Beds are amazingly plush; marble baths have glass mirror-walled showers and soaker tubs, and even standard rooms are palatially sized. There are also pleasant luxury touches such as bedside lighting controls and Bose Bluetooth speakers. There are Nespresso coffee makers and well-stocked minibars and artistic touches like eclectic coffee tables composed from a series of contrasting end tables.
Rounding out the suite of amenities are a workout room and expansive spa featuring two lines of high-end European spa products from brands MBR and Biologique Recherche.
Lotte Hotels appears well-positioned to grow brand recognition in the US luxury lodging market, with solid execution at its new Seattle property and two new builds in other US markets planned for the coming months.
Rates start around $360 per night.
Lotte Hotel Rewards.
Views of Puget Sound or Smith Tower from guest rooms or Charlotte Restaurant are sure to impress.
Good to Know
The hotel is three blocks from the Pioneer Square light rail station, but it’s a very steep three blocks uphill for guests with luggage.
At the time of publication, Charlotte Restaurant was only open for dinner. Room service is available 24 hours.
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