Friday, August 13, 2010
I was stuck in Seattle for a few days earlier this week and it was so nice to play tourist in my hometown. So many new businesses and restaurants have opened up and it's great to explore new places and visit some old haunts too.
One place friends took me too falls into another category. The Panama Hotel is one of those places that somehow feels like it's been there forever and just recently popped up. When I lived in Seattle I shamefully underutilized the International District, a unique and bussiling area that seems so insular compared to the rest of Seattle. The Panama is around the corner from some new boutiques and across the way from a run down old restaurant who's sign hangs precariously from the building, raising your heart rate when you walk underneath it as it's probably been this close to falling down for the past 30 years. As we walked up to the Panama Hotel's tea room, I was embarrassed to admit I'd never even been on this side street before. The first thing I noticed was the type on the sign. So refreshingly appropriate and in such perfect contrast to the white walls and high ceilings that great you when you walk into the cafe. This is was my favorite part of this tucked away find, the clean modern feel against the old wood floors and black and white photos of old japanese families. As you walk to the back of the tea room, there's a hole in the floor covered by glass where you can look down to the lower floor of the building. In the late 1940's families being herded out of the city to internment camps, packed up their belongings and stored them in the basement here.
As I left, loose leaf tea and shortbread cookies in hand, Jan the owner since 1985, mentioned that people can still stay at the hotel. I took her card and plan on making a reservation to stay here after a wedding we're attending at the end of the month. I can't wait to share interior photos of the rooms. It's so calming and humbling to be surprised and wowed by a city you lived in, or a very short distance from, for 24 years.