Perched on a cliff just above Snoqualmie Falls, a 268-foot waterfall that plunges into a river below, the Salish Lodge and Spa is as Pacific Northwest as it gets. Just 30 minutes from Seattle and surrounded by emerald green forest, the rustic-chic resort at the edge of the Cascade Mountains features luxurious touches like wood fireplaces and large jetted soaking tubs in all guestrooms. A top-notch spa and dining room views to die for add to the allure.
Salish Lodge will be immediately recognizable to fans of "Twin Peaks." Known fictionally as the Great Northern Hotel, the lodge played an integral role in the cult-classic TV show that was recently revived for a new season. Don’t miss the resort’s well-curated gift shop, which carries a quirky variety of "Twin Peaks" items.
While a bit worn-in, inviting guestrooms feature warm wood tones and soft natural hues, with accents of native carved pieces, nature photographs, and historical images. With amenities like a wood fireplace and a jetted tub, rooms are ready for romance. In fact, the hotel is a hugely popular place for honeymooners. Rooms include a private balcony, patio, or large window seats. Splurging? Try to snag a room with a river view.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The waterfall isn't all unobstructed natural beauty. A historic hydroelectric plant at the top, built in 1899, provides power to tens of thousands of homes but doesn't exactly add to the view. A small museum about the plant is free to the public and is available to tour Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Spacious bathrooms feature an oversized, two-person jetted tub (it’s huge), which also doubles as a shower. A slatted screen above the tub slides opens to the rest of the room. If you stay on the resort’s 4th-level spa floor, the bathroom includes a Salish Bath Butler sampler (milk and honey bath salts, honey body scrub, and body butter).
Just as you might expect, the lobby goes for a grand lodge vibe, with natural stone floors, warm wood columns, a large double-sided fireplace, and armchairs encircling large leather ottomans. A lot of visitors to the waterfall pop in to check out the hotel, so the sitting areas aren't necessarily relaxing. For guests only, the adjacent high-ceilinged Library room features handsome built-in bookcases, plenty of comfy seating, and a crackling fireplace.
Don't miss the lobby's Country Store, which stocks a very browsable assortment of gift items ranging from honey, jam, and coffee to jewelry, coffee table books, and darling baby clothes--much of it local (no touristy tchotchkes here). The Twin Peaks section is particularly on-point.
A paved path runs from the lobby to a series of viewpoints for the famous Snoqualmie Falls. If you're in shape for it, hike a dirt trail down to the bottom of the falls--it's a haul back up but the views are worthwhile.
If pampering is an essential part of your vacation, the luxurious Salish Lodge Spa knows how to please, from the soothing natural decor to amenities like a steam room, dry sauna, and two therapeutic soaking pools. Treatments include skin care, body therapies, and massage--some even feature honey from the hotel's hives. For a romantic splurge, the spa offers couples massages in an airy and very private room right above the falls.
Spa devotees should consider staying on the fourth-floor spa level, which includes perks like spa facility access, a hosted evening wine hour, and a light continental breakfast.
If it's still daylight, wait for a window seat at the hotel's Dining Room, which overlooks a dramatic view of the forested hillside and the waterfall crashing into the river below. You can almost feel the mist that fills the air. Hotel guests are greeted with a glass of bubbly at the intimate restaurant, which features the kind of excellent service that makes a special occasion even more memorable. Make no mistake: This place is spendy. But the food--a simple, seasonal menu showcasing seafood and meats, including choice cuts with a la carte sides--is very good and the views sublime.
Reservations are recommended. For especially important moments like popping the big question, consider booking one of the dining room's private dining nooks, which feature the best views in the house.
You'll definitely need a car to visit the Salish Lodge and Spa. From Downtown Seattle, take I-90 East to exit 25 for WA-18 W toward Snoqualmie Pkwy. Follow WA-18 until Railroad Ave. and take the third exit of the traffic circle. To get to North Bend from the lodge, stay on Railroad Ave. until you hit the town.
A 10-minute drive down the road from Salish Lodge and Spa is North Bend, a town that will reverberate with fans of Twin Peaks, who absolutely must stop by Twede's Cafe, the old-school diner that served up damn good coffee and cherry pie (a real-life bestseller) on the show. North Bend isn't known for its dining scene--especially when Seattle is only 30 minutes away--but spots like Trapper's Sushi and Il Paesano Ristorante are solid. Great coffee and breakfast options include Georgia's Bakery and Pioneer Coffee Co.
Mt. Si Pub, named after the nearby mountain that attracts legions of hikers each year, is a dive with personality (think worn wood and dollar bills pinned to the ceiling), as well as a pool table, live music, and collectible beer koozies. The Piccola Wine Co., a popular spot for locals housed in an old fire station, serves a good selection of wine on tap, which can be taken to-go in growlers. It's dog-friendly too.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Seattle is one of a handful of cities in the world surrounded by astounding natural beauty. The Salish Lodge and Spa, just 30 minutes from Downtown on the edge of the Cascade Mountains, offers a glimpse of what makes Washington State so special. Romantic and relaxing, with upscale dining and spa options and fantastic views, the lodge makes a great bookend to a city visit; the beautiful natural setting is as memorable as any tourist attractions. And for Twin Peaks fans, it's practically a pilgrimage; the hotel even offers themed packages.