The Hotel: What is a sparkling, serene hotel like the Cedarbrook Lodge doing so close to Sea-Tac airport? The property, once a corporate retreat center, is tucked into a cul-de-sac only a quarter mile from the airport's main terminal, but unless you know to take a turn across from the SeaTac YMCA, you wouldn't know it's there.
The 104 rooms are long and slim, facing giant windows that fill rooms with light, and a giant fireplace warms the well-regarded in-house restaurant. Having just celebrated a decade in SeaTac, Cedarbrook is currently upgrading rooms (more king beds) and considering a spa. The quiet suburban spot, with its plentiful meeting space and pre-travel business, all but begs for a pampering palace.
For Out-of-towners: Since Cedarbrook's 18 acres are in SeaTac, not Seattle, there's plenty of elbow room here for the city-phobic. A rolling green lawn and pond host a stream of weddings, and free shuttle service takes guests to the Light Rail or SeaTac Amtrak stations, making for easy access to both Tacoma and Seattle downtowns. Rooms have high-end detail—marble desktops, new plasma televisions, spacious bathrooms—but even better are the "living rooms" in each building: The fireplace-appointed spaces boast free snacks (including yogurt and Haagen-Dazs ice cream) 24 hours a day.
For In-towners: There's one big reason why a local would consider checking into Cedarbrook—those big runways less than a mile away. Pre- or post-flight travel makes up a large section of the hotel's business, especially among Northwesterners who live a ferry ride or long drive away from Sea-Tac's terminal. A free shuttle runs to the airport around the clock, and guests can leave their car in Cedarbrook's well-lighted lots for $15 per day. An extensive free continental breakfast, with local huckleberry-infused honey and local smoked king salmon, sure beats airport fare.
Locals also find themselves at Cedarbrook for the fine dining. The Copperleaf restaurant specializes in local ingredients, though Seattle Met food critic Kathryn Robinson notes that "farm-to-table cooking is more than just a marketing shtick in this house"; the chef worked at French Laundry before coming here. Visiting culinary masters will take over the kitchen for the restaurant's second annual philanthropic Savor: Sustaining Lives, Nourishing Hope, a dinner and auction benefiting Food Lifeline. Jazz on the Lawn, a summer program that brings world and modern jazz to the Cedarbrook grass, begins Fridays in July.