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Fodor's Expert Review Inn at El Gaucho

2505 1st Ave., , , , United States, Seattle, Washington 98121, USA See on Map Fodor's Choice

The Inn at El Gaucho stays true to its 1950s roots with classy retro style. In the heart of happening Belltown, the three-story hotel was once a union building for sailors, with studio apartments upstairs for retired men. Now it’s a popular place to stay with a single-screen movie theater downstairs and a swank old-school steakhouse right next door.

YOU SHOULD KNOW The inn can only be reached by stairs and is not handicap-accessible by elevator. Contact El Gaucho about assistance for accommodating guests with special needs.


Junior suites come in queen and king options with city and/or mountain views. Both include comfortable Italian leather seating, pillow-top beds, and handsome furniture; the king suite is a bit more spacious and includes a foldout sofa. Warm yellow walls are especially welcoming at night, while black-and-white photos of silver-screen stars play up the vintage vibe. All you need is a little whiskey and jazz for an escape to another era.


There’s no getting around it: El Gaucho’s bathrooms are small by today’s standards. But they are also charming, featuring midcentury square tiles, a petite tub or walk-in shower, and a good amount of storage space.


Warm and welcoming, the lobby lounge calls to mind a 1950s gentlemen’s club, with fluted banquettes, dark leather sofas, wood paneling and a fireplace. Photos of Hollywood icons hang on deep orange walls. El Gaucho hosts a lovely happy hour with wine and cheese from 5 to 7 p.m. They also leave delicious fresh-baked cookies in your room at check-in!


You’ll be greeted by a tuxedoed maître d’ at the fabulous El Gaucho steakhouse, which features impeccable tableside service, live piano music, and romantically dim lighting. Cozy up in a leather booth and indulge in a perfectly shaken martini while people watching at happy hour, or linger for a long dinner. Classic seafood dishes such as crab cakes and Oysters Rockefeller dominate the starters list, and thick steaks and chops are seared over coals in the exhibition style kitchen.


It’s not a bar per se, but the 21-and-up Big Picture movie theater, tucked in the basement of El Gaucho, serves booze and tasty truffle-butter popcorn. The screen is on the smaller side, and the intimate theater only shows one movie at a time, but it’s a fun spot for a date night.


Getting Around

From El Gaucho, it’s a 15-minute walk to Westlake Station, a main hub for Seattle’s light rail system. Also in the vicinity of Westlake Center: the Monorail, which connects to Seattle Central; bus lines servicing every corner of the city; and the South Lake Union Streetcar terminus. Or skip the walk from El Gaucho and grab one of the many buses that stop at Westlake, including the D and E lines and buses 1, 3, 4, and 5, which also continue on to Pioneer Square.


Barely a block away, local favorite Macrina Bakery can’t be beat for breakfast. Also nearby, Sarajevo Lounge (2-minute walk) serves up traditional Bosnian and Mediterranean fare in a friendly setting. The hotel’s free shuttle can drop you off for an evening at AQUA by El Gaucho (10-minute drive), which has won serious kudos for its upscale seafood fare. At the end of Pier 70 on Elliott Bay, the restaurant offers some of the best waterfront views in Seattle--the expansive deck is a big draw for summer sunsets. You’ll pay a lot for the pleasure, but it’s popular for special occasions.


The Whisky Bar (8-minute walk) doesn't need much explaining--it stocks 50 different bottles of the good stuff, along with craft beer. A meat-centric menu and weekly bagpipe jam sessions will bring out your inner Scot. Does a little Skee-Ball with your highball sound appealing? Head to Rabbit Hole (6-minute walk), a cool dive that features cocktails, pub grub, and the aforementioned arcade game in a dark-paneled clubby setting. If bars are your thing, Belltown has plenty of options.


The Inn at El Gaucho hits the perfect note with its Hollywood Ratpack style that's retro-chic and never cheesy. The small boutique property feels like an escape to another glamorous era--especially the fabulous old-school steakhouse with live jazz downstairs. There's nothing else quite like it in Seattle. As a bonus, Belltown is a happening area for dining, shopping, and bar-hopping.




Phones: 206-728–1133;866-354–2824

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