Bristol Business News Travel – 48:00 hours in Seattle

January 11, 2019

Seattle is fast becoming one of North America’s leading tech hubs and is home to global giants such as Microsoft and Amazon. It’s also one of the US’s coolest cities. Bristol Business News travel editor ANNE GORRINGE went there on Aer Lingus’ latest transatlantic route – which clears US immigration at Dublin Airport on connecting flights from Bristol.

CITY FACTS: Sitting close to the Canadian border and hemmed in by water with Puget Sound to the west and lakes Washington and Union to the east, the West Coast city of Seattle is known for its tolerant and educated stance on many issues.

A truck at Pike Place Market

It is ranked as the top literate city in the US due to its high percentage of residents holding at least a college degree. It’s also where aircraft manufacturer Boeing and global coffee company Starbucks started out. Seattle’s compact ‘downtown’ area has grown rapidly in recent years with new building. Must-see sights include the iconic Space Needle and Pike Place Market. The city’s location makes it a prime destination for several major cruise lines with trips to Alaska being key and Seattle’s Pier 52 is the busiest ferry terminal in the US.  

GETTING THERE: Aer Lingus’ four-times-a-week, year-round Seattle link is its 14th transatlantic route while the connecting flight from Bristol Airport to Dublin is operated by Stobart Air. Dublin is the only airport in Europe to offer a special ‘pre-clearance’ service which means on arrival at Seattle-Tacoma (Sea-Tac) International Airport, UK passengers are treated like US domestic passengers and can head straight for baggage reclaim without having to queue for passport checks.

THE FLIGHT: Aer Lingus’ business class transatlantic service offer fully lie-flat seats, which extend to 6ft 6in long and 22 inches wide with a ‘massage’ option. There is complimentary wi-fi and noise-cancelling headphones. I was impressed by the ample workspace at the side of my seat and the chance to stay connected on the 9-hour 45-minute flight across the Atlantic. The USB outlet meant I arrived with my phone fully charged.

Anne’s seat in business class

In-flight dining includes a selection of French and Italian wines. In economy, Aer Lingus also provide complimentary in-flight meals and soft drinks and wi-fi is available for an additional cost. From London, Virgin Atlantic, British Airways and Norwegian also offer a choice of non-stop, daily direct flights to Seattle.

GETTING FROM THE AIRPORT: A light-rail system links to downtown Seattle in around 35 minutes. Despite my flight touching down 45 minutes late at 6.20pm, by 6.42pm I’d picked up by bag and, after buying a $3 (£2.30) single ticket, was on the train by 7.03pm, arriving at Westlake train station in the city centre 35 minutes later. 

WHERE TO STAY: Downtown Seattle has a good choice of hotels, many within walking distance of the main business conference centre on Pike Street, which is just a couple of blocks from Westlake Station. A good, cost-effective option is to stay at Homewood Suites on Pike Street. Each ‘suite’ has a kitchen area with fridge and a good-size desk/office area.

Anne collected her bag and was on my way within 25 minutes of landing

Prices in September were from around $215 including breakfast. Top tip: Ask for a room on the higher floors, overlooking the courtyard. That way you’re completely away from any road noise and can easily get a restful, undisturbed night.

TAKE A WALK: In many US cities, the car is king. But downtown Seattle’s size makes it easy to get around on foot, like many UK cities. To US travellers this is something of a novelty, but it certainly made me feel at home. I also tried the local transport, hopping on buses as well as using Uber.
PIKE PLACE MARKET: At the heart of downtown Seattle is Pike Place Market – one of the oldest continuously operating markets in the US. It has battled through times of adversity and come under real threat of closure at various times since opening 111 years ago.

Downtown Seattle. The Cheesecake Factory

It has more than 500 individual small traders with some putting on a show for the public. Lookout for the ‘flying fish’ food stall – the traders who excel in throwing their fish to one another. And you’ll find the first-ever Starbucks on the street next to the market.

 MARKET TRADERS’ STORIES: There’s much more to the two-hour ‘Savor Seattle’ food tour than tasting different award-winning foods – although that’s a big part of it. It’s a great way discover the stories behind the individuals who’ve battled to succeed here.

Rainbow carrots in Pike Place Market

My favourite was the company that set up to make Russian-style Piroshky (a kind of pasty) and was helped by a secret $1,000 anonymous donation. A great example of how a small business has taken on the ‘big boys’ across America. The tour, which includes a chance to taste lots of samples, costs $41.99 (£32).

THE SPACE NEEDLE: When the Space Needle was built in 1962 for the Seattle World’s Fair it was the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. Now $100m is being spent to add extra glass – and the world’s first revolving glass floor – to the impressive structure. Visitors can still take a trip to the observation deck at the top for stunning views of the city – but, the restaurant there is currently closed.

THE MONORAIL: Built at the same time as the Space Needle to transport tourists from the centre to the lookout tower, it’s a fun way to visit the top tourist attractions. Back in 1962 it was way ahead of its time, giving a bird’s-eye view through office windows as you fly past on the short journey.
THE MUSIC MUSEUM: Seattle is renown as a music city. The birthplace of Jimi Hendrix and indie musical giants Nirvana and Pearl Jam, it is second only to New York City in the US for live music performances.

Seattle’s impressive Music Museum

The fascinating shape of the museum of pop culture here, MoPOP, is said to be modelled on a smashed Hendrix guitar. There’s also a chance to discover your superhero here – at a special ‘Marvel’ Exhibition celebrating 80 years of superheroes with art work, costumes and props, which runs until this month.

LIKE A DUCK TO WATER: It’s 25 years since Sleepless in Seattle hit the big screen but the houseboat house where Tom Hanks lived is still there – you can see it on the Ride the Ducks tour of Seattle. This is a tour with a difference, the amphibious vehicle hops around some of the main sites in the city then takes you onto the water of Lake Union. Tickets are £25 ($35) for adults. Also on the water, the Washington State Ferry system is the largest in the country, carrying more than 25m passengers a year. And nine major cruise lines provide seven and 14-day trips from Seattle to Alaska.

WHALE WATCHING: An experience of a lifetime. A half-day Puget Sound Express whale-watching tour guarantees seeing orcas and humpbacks. Puget Sound Express is located just north of Seattle in Edmonds. Adult tickets are $135 (£96).

GOING UNDERGROUND: Seattle not only has land based and water-based city tours, it also has an Underground City Tour telling the story of why – and how – the city was raised by 12-15ft.

Wine-tasting in Woodville

It takes you underneath modern-day sidewalks to stroll past subterranean old store fronts which were built over when the city affected by the fire of 1889. Adult tickets are $19.11 (£13.65). 

THE BOEING FACTORY: Aerospace enthusiasts can visit this huge factory on the edge of the city to learn the history of Boeing, which became the largest employer in Seattle during World War II when the US government suddenly needed to build huge numbers of aircraft. 

BEER TASTING: Washington State is the leading producer of hops in the US, providing them not only to its many thriving micro-breweries but even to German beer makers. Celebrating this, Seattle Road Dog Brew Tour takes you to three breweries in three hours with, of course, samplings. $79 (£56.50) per person.

TIME FOR WINE: Washington is also second only to California for wine production. Its wineries are mainly four hours’ drive from Seattle on the eastern side of the state. However, you can sample them on a ‘tasting tour’ in Woodville, just 30 minutes’ outside Seattle’s centre.

Chihuly Gardens

There are more than 100 different wine-tasting centres owned by vineyards in this pretty, countryside area. You can sample a great selection by booking a four-hour day trip – complete with driver and guide to show you around. Bespoke tours organised by Bon Vivant Tours.

EAT OUT: Check out the Collections Café at Chihuly Gardens and Glass at the Seattle Center near the Space Needle. The café has glass-topped tables full of fascinating collections by artist Dale Chihuly while his glassblowing skills and amazing sculptures are showcased in a garden of glass flowers. www.chihulygardenandglass.comTop Tip: It’s worth looking into a Seattle City Pass, which you can buy at any of the main attractions and gives admission to five top attractions, including the Space Needle – saving you up to 45%.

MORE DETAILS: For further information on visiting Seattle and Washington State visit or 

Food on board the Aer Lingus flight

FLIGHT DETAILS: Aer Lingus economy class seats from the UK to Seattle start at £239 each-way when booked as a return trip. Connections from UK airports, including Bristol, are on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Business class flights from Bristol start at £899 each-way including taxes and charges. Information on fares and schedules from

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