As a general rule, I am not interested in pampering weekends, over-indulgent spas or fancy hotels for the sake of fancy hotels. Accommodation choices are usually fixed around cost and convenience, and so far my life has been complete without seaweed wraps or unnecessary five-star decadence, thank you very much. Give me forests, a hot shower and WiFi and I’m a happy bunny.
So, when a close friend suggested we indulge in a night at the luxurious Salish Lodge & Spa during our road trip into the Northwest, I was skeptical of whether the experience would be worth the cost (and it's not an insignificant cost – upwards of $200/night).
Even though it didn’t quite match up to the stunning beauty of our cabin overlooking Lake Crescent (left) (it would have been greedy to expect anything more perfect than that), it was a truly memorable stop on our trip.
Less than an hour’s drive from Sea-Tac Airport and perched atop the mighty Snoqualmie Falls, Salish Lodge is an outstanding place to stay. I returned with my husband to celebrate our anniversary the following year.
I wouldn’t normally devote so many words to a hotel, but I absolutely love this place. First off, there's the view. The falls are stunning, and definitely worth shelling out the extra dollars for a room overlooking the roaring mists. Nestled among the dark pines and swirling waters, the lodge feels quintessentially Washington, and at night, tasteful lighting illuminates the cascade. At the time we visited, there was a smattering of building work at the top of the falls – a hydro-dam due for completion this year – but it hardly intruded on the vista.
The hotel itself is a quaint mix of old-lodge rustic charm and modern, upscale luxury. Log fires, tasteful décor harking back to the timber industry, and locally sourced dishes and ales keep the lodge grounded in its surroundings. It would be a crime not to try the smoked salmon chowder at The Attic, the less formal of the lodge’s dining options and much more suited to old friends wanting to set the world to rights and chase away the jet lag with wine and more wine. Make sure to grab a table by the window for a raised view of the falls as the sun slips away and inky night swoops in.
The colossal grandeur of the lodge is hard to overlook. And if it looks familiar, that’s because it was a setting for David Lynch’s iconic Twin Peaks. On the (slightly inebriated) stumble back to our room, we were disoriented by the confusing maze of indistinguishable hallways – carrying a definite The Shining vibe – but we made it to bed unmolested by spirits or kids on tricycles. The lodge probably won’t thank me for this comparison, but I love a bit of creep to my night.
After a dainty lumberjack breakfast and a gentle stroll around the falls, my friend persuaded me to try out the spa.
The soaking pools overlook the lush forests and, surprisingly, we were able to enjoy them in peace. If you want treatments and scrubs and that kind of fussy attention, you’ll find it here, or you can just hang out by the pools and sauna and enjoy complimentary herbal tea whilst debating the important matters at hand: who is the cutest, sparkly vampire in the neighborhood and did they, in fact, kill Laura Palmer?
(My apologies, humble Washington, but you have spawned two very important legacies – Twin Peaks and Twilight. Deal with it).
Rejuvenated and feeling ten years younger (thanks to some harmless flirting with the charming valet boys), we explored the local area.
Snoqualmie itself is a sweet little town – there isn’t much to it, but it's as cute as a button. If you’re a fan of trains, then prepare yourself, as it is home to the Northwest Railway Museum. The short drive into town runs past some imposing train cabooses, evidence of the area’s railroading past (and, according to one legend, the grimy train car where Laura Palmer may have breathed her last).
More interesting is nearby North Bend, the true home of Twin Peaks; you can almost hear the dreamy theme as you cruise through the shivering pines (or if you’re a recovering goth, Marilyn Manson’s homage to the Peaks, "Wrapped In Plastic," is just as fitting a soundtrack).
It is imperative that you stop at Twede’s Café (impossible to miss) for the cherry pie and damn-fine coffee (left), to quote Kyle Maclachlan. It is a cute, old-style diner that embraces its Lynchian heritage, but seems more invested in good food and good service than riding the hype. (I should admit that I parted – willingly – with $20 for a Twin Peaks mug and I still drink my tea from it to this day.)
Our one night stop at Salish Lodge and Snoqualmie Falls was all too brief for my liking, but it’s not hard to see why Agent Cooper loved this place – you could say he came for the murder and stayed for the ambience – and why many Seattlelites have retirement dreams in the area.
As a fitting introduction to the spectacular Olympic and Cascade regions, you could do much worse than treat yourself to a lavish night at the lodge before embarking on an adventure of mountain, lake and forest log cabins. I’m already planning my third visit.