Our Roving Office with Hotel RL Olympia, a Cozy Pacific Northwest Basecamp
Travelers in the Pacific Northwest will want to know about our latest roving office location: a friendly, newly redecorated hotel with refreshing amenities, charming details and local flavors in Washington's capital city.
The Hotel RL Olympia is located just off Interstate 5 between Seattle and Portland, and across the lake from the state Capitol. Its place on the map made it a perfect central basecamp for exploring some of our Pacific Northwest favorites.
A huge thanks to the team at RL Olympia for making my mom and I feel welcome throughout our stay!
RL is a new brand of hotel by Red Lion, with a fresh look, hip touches and convenient offerings.
An RL Olympia team member told me that the hotel was remodeled to its current look about a year ago (in 2015-2016). New decor is primarily mid century modern, with some folky touches.
The lobby is spacious, welcoming and warm with plenty of colorful seating and a crackling fireplace. The fireplace area doubles as The Living Stage, a showcase of local performers, speakers and classes intended to inspire and cultivate community among travelers.
The lounge offers a beautiful view and plenty of pods for reading, dining and getting work done. (See photo above for our favorite morning work spot. We shared it via Facebook live.)
And the bedrooms! The renovated rooms are papered with lovely depictions of the Pacific Northwest landscape: forests, mountains and streams. Bedding is super-soft and luxuriously padded, perfect after a day of hiking. My mom wanted to take the pillows home.
We were lucky enough to get a room with a view of the lake and a balcony, so we watched the sun rise over the water every morning. (The second sunrise view is from the lounge, which was also an ideal spot to read the paper and sip a cup of coffee.)
As a side-note for my business-minded friends: the hotel is HUGE and clearly well equipped for events. There are conference spaces of all sizes, including one with a view of the lake and a ballroom for larger groups.
There was a bicycle expo on-site during our stay; so the lobby and restaurant were often bustling with guests ordering espressos and chatting.
I was happy to notice that – unlike typical chains – RL partners with Pacific Northwest brands in a number of ways.
One of our favorites: the Victrola Coffee Roasters bar in the lobby.
A treat in itself, Seattle-based Victrola is posted up and serving premium espresso drinks from about 7am to 3pm daily. The roaster is well known to be a Pacific Northwest favorite; I even spoke with one person in line who said they work elsewhere but come in for their coffee most days.
Tip: these guys make macchiatos the classic Italian way (and not the Starbucks way). It's strong espresso topped with a bit of foamed milk. Delicious if you're ready for it, and will absolutely wake you up.
There are also pastries by Olympia's own San Francisco Street Baking Co., Olympia-brewed beers and Washington wines.
As for other touches, we also loved (and Instagrammed) the environmentally-friendly bath products by Red Lion's own Cascadia Soapery, made with ingredients like hemp and lemon and covered in charming illustrations. (Apparently we aren't the only ones who liked these soaps; by popular demand, Red Lion tweeted they plan to offer the products for sale in the near future.)
We're breakfast people, and we really liked the breakfast at RL. The hotel offers a free breakfast option when you book, and the selection on that menu alone is impressive. I especially savored the quiche and greek yogurt parfait. My mom enjoyed tucking into the hearty bowl of "Snoqualmie Oatmeal with milk and fresh berries."
As a service for adventurers or busy guests, RL offers a separate takeaway menu of items that pack well. One morning, I took a breakfast quiche to go. Not only was it delicious, but I got to enjoy half of it for lunch on a road trip to the ocean!
Our server recommended an her favorite off-item menu to take away, the breakfast burrito. She said it was hearty enough to take you through lunch.
Plus, there are two happy hours. In case you miss the pre-dinner session, you have the post-dinner option for digestif and dessert. The happy hour red wine was a bit dry even for my taste, but it grew on me; my mom loved the whiskey sour. And we devoured the fresh-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookie a la mode.
Although we were out and about a lot, we managed to have a one Pacific Northwest-themed dinner at the hotel. Mom loved the halibut fish and chips, my brother Sean left no bit left of his "Picnic": a half slab or ribs and cornbread. I ordered the salmon, brussels and new potatoes – and found the potatoes to be surprisingly stand-out.
Service at the restaurant was relaxed, which was a welcome alternative to the Chicago pace we are used to. Our servers were always smiley and awesome and offered insight into taking on the PN.
For example, when you go to the ocean beaches to dig clams (be sure to get a permit), you might instinctively pile on layers to keep warm. But, if you take off your shoes and socks and roll up your pant legs before getting started, you'll avoid soaking your clothes, stay warmer than you think, and have dry things to put on at the end of the day.
Another tip: Olympia's Evergreen State College, a short drive from the hotel, sits on miles of land and has hiking trails that are available to the public. Some even go to all the way to the water, and many are beautiful. (I love collecting these tidbits.)
While we loved the feel of the hotel itself, like most travelers, we consider our hotel to be our basecamp, a cozy place to rest and prep for adventures.
With my brothers in town and family nearby, we spent most days and evenings out wandering. We love to day-trip to the ocean. (The nearest ocean beach is just over an hour west of Olympia, but you can drive farther for many options.)
We also visited Wolf Haven International, a wolf and coyote sanctuary for rescued and endangered animals. I took videos but not too many photos inside the haven, every effort is made to stay quiet and respectful; but I encourage a visit! We did hike over to a the huge "grandfather tree" on the grounds. It stood at least a 100 feet tall, majestic and endearing.
And a trip to Olympia is not complete without a stop at Olympia Coffee Roasters and a walk around downtown.
You can tell by now that we very much enjoyed our stay at RL and would absolutely visit again. Since we visit Olympia often these days, we will certainly have the chance.
As an added bonus, rooms at RL Olympia are priced competitively, and the chain offers periodic promotions, so it's perfect for frequent travelers like me who want charm and amenities on a budget.
Hope you enjoyed the rest of the photos from our stay!
Thank you to RL Olympia for sponsoring this post; article and opinions are my own.