Love to bike? Then the Hotel Monaco is Seattle is for you. The child and dog friendly hotel has free bikes for guest to borrow. Then there’s the free evening cocktail hour, often accompanied by live music. Seattle also has a public bike share program, and Seattle Bicycle Tours, which offers guided tours of the city.
How to create your own biking trip around Seattle with the help of Kimpton Hotels.
One of my favorite boutique hotel chains is Kimpton, with its dog and child friendly policy, chill vibe and free bikes. These are bikes for a leisurely ride, not designed for the challenging hills of Seattle. Nonetheless, we decided to use the free bikes at the Hotel Monaco, one of 4 Kimpton hotels in Seattle, to pedal over to the Washington Park Arboretum, a free botanic garden that is part of the University of Washington.
Let me state right away that hills annoy me. I don’t find it charming to stare down a steep slope whether on skis or two wheels. Or in a car, for that matter. I like a nice, flat urban grid, then a trip to mountains for my extreme sports. But we hit a patch of unseasonably perfect northwest weather; 70 degrees and sunny, and the bikes beckoned.
The next day, we got another taste of the biking culture by joining a guided tour run by Seattle Bicycle Tours. Our cheerful young guide, Katherine, assessed our group’s skill level and decided we could handle a bonus few more miles; we took a detour to Golden Gardens Park, Seattle’s free public beach.
Despite many previous trips to Seattle, I had never seen the Ballard Locks, with its cool fish ladder; we were able to leave the bikes with the guide and take a few minutes to explore the area. We rode about 17 miles, mostly flat, though our 24 speed bikes could have handled a few hills.
We also rode around South Lake Union, aka Amazon headquarters, where there is a boat museum, and Fremont, where there is a farmer’s market on Sundays, and tours of the Theo chocolate factory. Alas, there was no time to explore here, but I’ve made a note that I need to go here next time.
Seattle Bicycle Tours provides a helmet and water cage (bring your own water) and a Kind bar snack. The only complaint I have is the timing of the tour; it's 11-2, which means you miss a meal. With so many great restaurants and cafes and so little time, I needed at least another week in Seattle to eat all the amazing vegetarian food. Luckily, the tour company is planning to offer an early evening tour, so you can end a ride with one of the city's great beers.
Another way to cruise around the city is one of Seattle's public Pronto bikes. Unlike any other bike share program I've encountered, this one provides helmets, too, which are cleaned after each use.
- Free bikes!
- Free evening happy hour, daily, with beer and wine! The concierge told us he offers lemonade to young guests. And three or four nights a week, there is live music to accompany your drinks, making the lobby a lively place to hang.
- The minuscule fitness center has hula hoops; if you require more of a workout, you can get a free pass to a nearby Gold’s Gym. And the concierge has running routes that avoid hills, once you get down to the waterfront. The Monaco is steeply uphill from the water, so the run home is, well, super annoying.
We were upgraded to a suite, which had a sitting room with a pull out couch, and a heavy curtain you can pull for privacy if a child is staying with you. The bed was super comfortable, and the eco-friendly bath products were in large reusable containers, so there is less waste.
We didn't have a chance to eat at the hotel's restaurant, Sazerac, named for the New Orleans cocktail. The Southern inspired menu has lots of bacon and pulled pork, but also healthier vegetarian options like a vegetable pot au feu with mushrooms and local produce, and spring pea gazpacho. There is also a lengthy happy hour and extensive list of local spirits, wine and beer on tap.
What works for families
- Minibar fridge has space for stowing a few drinks and snacks
- Guest dogs that kids can play with
- Coffee bar (free) in the morning has skim and soy milk which kids can drink
- Kid sized robes
- Basket of apples in the lobby
What doesn’t work for families
- No pool
- Adult size bikes only
Note: I received a reduced rate at the Hotel Monaco and a complimentary bike tour from Seattle Bicycle Tours. Opinions expressed are my own.