With a refreshing glass of sparkling water in hand, I walk out onto my room’s private balcony at the Hotel Bellwether. It’s a typical Pacific Northwest March day with gray clouds and a little rain. From this lofty nook, I see the shifting waters of Bellingham Bay, joggers and dog walkers strolling along the Squalicum Promenade, and boaters cruising into the marina.
A stone’s throw away is the Hotel Bellwether’s 220-foot private dock just inside Squalicum Harbor. There are a handful of boats tied up, taking advantage of Bellingham’s boutique hotel and restaurant that is worthy of five-star standards.
This boutique hotel has plenty to offer boaters:
- A private dock with 220 feet of space with power (for guests of the hotel).
- Large and luxurious rooms with private balconies, which will allow you to keep an eye on your boat at the private dock.
- Western facing onsite restaurant and bar with an outside patio.
- Spa services within walking distance.
- Small putting green onsite.
- Next to walking trails.
- Dog-friendly with a $25 pet fee, per day.
- Outside seasonal fire pit.
Hotel Bellwether on a sunny Pacific Northwest day. Photo courtesy of Hotel Bellwether.
Hotel Bellwether Rooms & Amenities
The Hotel Bellwether has several suite styles – Lighthouse Suite, Bellwether Suite, Owner’s Suite, Island Suite, Premier Suite, Studio Waterview, Executive Waterview, Studio Plaza, Executive Plaza, and the Garden, Harborside and Sunset Suites. All suites have an air-jetted tub, 32-inch TV, down pillows and comforters, complimentary Wi-Fi, some have pull-out sofas, and most have a living room area and a private patio or balcony. The hotel offers a variety of packages like Bellwether Bed & Brews, Early Bird by the Bay, Massage in a Bottle, Ultimate Relaxation with Still Life Massage and Float, Romance by the Bay and Dog-Friendly.
Lighthouse Bar & Grill
The on-site restaurant, the Lighthouse Bar & Grill, has views of the harbor and bay, and during those warm months a seasonal outdoor patio. (Talk about a great place to watch the sunset!) The menu focuses on Pacific Northwest Cuisine, and you’ll find Northwest favorites like Oysters on the Half Shell ($15 for a dozen), Seafood Cobb ($22), and the Fresh Catch, as well as steaks, rack of lamb and duck. They also have vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free options, which are all clearly marked on their menu.
- Breakfast from 6:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday through Friday, and 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
- Sunday Brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Lunch daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Dinner from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
The lounge has a nightly happy hour from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. seven days a week, and occasional live music. They serve drink specials like $4 house wines, $1 off draft beers, $4.50 well drinks, $6 martinis, and $5 selected cocktails. And, every Wednesday is Ladies’ Happy Hour from 3 pm to close. The night includes special pricing for a bottle of wine paired with a gourmet cheese plate.
The hotel has partnered with two spas within walking distance of the hotel – Zazen Spa and Still Life Massage and Float. If you have kinks to work out or want to try sensory deprivation flotation therapy they’ve got you covered.
Hotel Bellwether Review
I stayed in a Premier Suite, on the third floor. The room was very spacious with stately furniture. It had a very large bathroom with an air-jetted tub and a walk-in shower, a bedroom with a very cozy king bed with down comforters, and a living room with a gas fireplace, a pull-out sofa, and a private balcony. For late night snacking or drinking, there is a basket of goodies that includes nuts, chocolates, wine, and more. Overall, the room had a very grand feel, and with the view from my private balcony, I could easily enjoy the harbor and sunset views (as well as check on the boats at the private dock) and then retreat inside and cuddle up on the couch and warm up next to the fireplace. Or in my case, soak in the air-jetted tub, which is a must.
Lighthouse Bar & Grill
My dinner from start to finish was exceptional. I started with the Cascadia Rose, a tequila cocktail ($12), and the Bayside Prawns which came with four panko-encrusted prawns on a bed of cabbage slaw with sweet soy and sriracha aioli ($11). There were many tasty looking options for dinner, like the Seafood Risotto with wild salmon, scallops, prawns and Dungeness crab with seasonal vegetables ($32), the Duck & Gnocchi with a mustard and maple-glazed duck breast served with butternut squash gnocchi and sautéed kale with red wine blackberry reduction ($32), and the New York Strip Steak with braised greens and roasted garlic mashed potatoes ($38).
In the end, I decided to try something I’ve never seen before on a menu – the Butternut Squash Tower with coriander roasted butternut squash medallions layered with house-smoked goat cheese and sautéed Cascadia mushrooms, baby kale, and golden beets, served on a bed of quinoa with a side of brussel sprouts ($27). The flavors of the dish blew my mind. I’d definitely order it again. Dinner was so good I decided to check out the dessert menu. I had a hard time deciding between the Poached Pears, Key Lime Pie, and Croissant Bread Pudding. After my server raved about the bread pudding, I opted for that and was not disappointed.
Hotel Bellwether Highlights
Private dock: Steps away from the hotel is a 220 private dock for boats up to 150 feet with 30, 50 and 100 amp power.
Rooms with a view: Rooms with balconies and patios have an amazing view of the harbor and Bellingham Bay. If you opt for the Lighthouse Suite, expect to get even better views of Bellingham Bay.
On-site restaurant and lounge: The Lighthouse Bar & Grill offers exceptional food and drinks, and they too have a fantastic view!
Pet-friendly: When a hotel has a very cute and furry Canine Concierge named Bellwether Bella, you know your four-legged friend will be a welcomed guest. The first two floors of the hotel have pet-friendly rooms, and the $25 charge is per night, per pet. Squalicum Promenade, which goes right past the hotel, is a great place to get out and stroll with your dog, and there are plenty of grassy areas along the way.
Location: Once you’ve arrived at the Hotel Bellwether by boat, you’ll be tempted to stay there, as they have a onsite restaurant and nearby spas. If you want to explore the Bellwether on the Bay complex you’ll also find other restaurants like Anthony’s Hearthfire Grill, Giuseppe’s Al Porto, and Sea Breeze Coffee House, which are all are within walking distance of the Hotel Bellwether. And, if you want to visit the Marine Life Center, Squalicum Promenade will take you right by it. Just keep in mind it is only open during the summer months.
Note: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary accommodations and meals for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.
Lara Dunning is a member of the Waggoner Cruising Guide team and has made one trip up the Inside Passage to Ketchikan, AK. She is enthusiastic about small town living, and you can read more about her discoveries at Small Town Washington. She has been published in Bainbridge Island Magazine, Northwest Travel & Life Magazine, Wander With Wonder, and Whidbey Life Magazine.