The Arctic Club

with William Pennington


There was a time when membership to the Arctic Club meant something.  When travelers and explorers from all over the world would come to Seattle, they preferred a place to temporarily call home.  Someone who worked at the hotel told me once that members needed to travel to the Arctic Circle (and back), in order to be eligible for membership.  However, upon doing some reading here and here, I find no such requirement.  But it does seem to be common that veterans of the Klondike Gold Rush called it home.

Today, the polar bear that's lit up in the corner of the lobby is meant for all, and that means YOU.  The pool table too, and the bar, and the comfy that you can imagine what it was like for members...if only for a little while.  Walking in, I suddenly felt like I didn't belong, but the concierge smiled and handed me a sheet of paper containing the history of their hotel.  My hooded sweatshirt and backpack and smile meant that I too could enter.  I was hooked after I saw that bear, and I bring friends here sometimes, to show them not to be intimidated by the exclusivity feel to it.  It doesn't seem to matter who you are anymore. One does still have to pay nearly $300 to stay here for one night. I'm not sure if this is a deal.

My old boss told me to come here for the dome ceiling above the bar.  Not seeing the dome ceiling above the bar, as she described, I crept up the stairs, thinking I'd get caught any minute...but...nothing, no one bothered me or yelled at me or even said a word.

Catching a glimpse of a sign that contained the word "Dome", I followed the arrows hurriedly in fear I may never get there, but one stopped me.

Once I found the ballroom, yes indeed there was a beautiful stain glass dome above me, I noticed the air seemed to stop, as if entering a Shining - esque room, deadness...just empty dead air...which is definitely less spooky if you're not alone (hint: don't go alone)...and possibly the most interesting ceiling in all of Seattle.  They even have an antique Walrus clock.

If you go: I think going during the afternoon on a weekend would be ideal.  No one really seems to care much about you at this time.  At any time, however, you may run into a wedding reception or a dinner party that I'd love to go to.  If you do know of a way to get invited to such an event, please fill me in.  

If there is no event, and you're hungry, skip the restaurant in the lobby and go next door to a fine Piroshki joint here.


Arctic Club: Third and Cherry.  Not quite Pioneer Square, but it still feels like you're in the middle of nowhere. Don't forget to examine the Walrus heads chiseled on the outside of the building. Sadly, no pictures of the glass polar bear on their website.

Their website: