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Seattle’s Fairmont Olympic Hotel

Aug 31st, 2010 | By | Category: Movie Locations

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Another location that I stalked back in May while visiting the Pacific Northwest was the famous Fairmont Olympic Hotel located in Downtown Seattle.  The Olympic is a landmark Seattle building that has appeared in countless productions over the years and has played host to dozens of celebrities in its almost ninety-year history, so there was no way I was going to miss stalking it while visiting the area!  The hotel, which first opened on December 6, 1924, was built on the former site of the University of Washington on an area of land known as the “Metropolitan Tract”.  The Tract, which encompasses four square blocks, was donated to the University in 1861 by Arthur Denny, one of Seattle’s original founders, and is still owned by the school to this day.  In the early 1920s, following the end of World War I, the Seattle Chamber of Commerce put together a committee dedicated to developing a luxury hotel in the downtown area.  It was quickly decided that the hotel would be built on the former University of Washington site, which at the time was being leased out by the Metropolitan Building Company.  After several battles with the Regents, construction of the hotel, which was made possible through a public bond drive, finally began on April 1, 1923.   Architectural firms George B. Post & Sons and Bebb & Gould were chosen to design the property, and construction, the cost of which totaled around $5.5 million, was completed in November of 1924.  Amazingly enough, the property still looks very much the same today as it did when it first opened its doors over eight decades ago!

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The Olympic Hotel was constructed using only the finest materials including American Oak, granite, terra cotta, and Belgian marble.  The room furnishings alone cost over $800,000 – and we’re talking 1920’s money!  The hotel became an immediate success and despite suffering some economic loss during the Great Depression remains one of Seattle’s finest hotels to this day and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.  That same year, management of the Olympic was taken over by the Four Seasons Group, who immediately commandeered a $60 million restoration of the property during which the number of guest rooms was actually reduced, in order to make suites larger and more comfortable.  The hotel re-opened as the Four Seasons Olympic in 1981.  In 2003, management of the property once again changed hands, this time with the Fairmont Hotels and Resorts group taking over, after which point the hotel became known as the Fairmont Olympic.  And, as you can see in the above photographs, the property is absolutely breathtaking inside!

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I honestly cannot recommend stalking the Olympic enough – not only is it beautiful, but the staff truly could NOT have been nicer!  The concierge on duty spent about ten minutes speaking with me about the filming that has taken place on the premises over the years and even gifted me with this awesome Reel Life in Seattle film locations map.  So darn cool! 

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And, in a lucky twist of fate, the property’s famed Spanish Ballroom happened to be unlocked while we were stalking the Olympic, so we got to go inside and take a quick peek at it.

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The Fairmont Olympic Hotel has long played host to the rich and famous, including foreign dignitaries, presidents, and celebrities.  A few who have stayed there over the years include Herbert Hoover, John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Hoffa, Elvis Presley, Joan Crawford, John Glenn, Bing Crosby, John Wayne, and Bob Hope.  Most recently, Twilight actor Jackson Rathbone checked in to do some publicity for his new movie The Last Airbender.

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And, as I mentioned above, the Olympic is also a filming location!  In the 1994 thriller Disclosure, Tom Sanders (aka Michael Douglas) goes to the Fairmont to break into the room where his co-worker John Conley Jr. is staying in order to gain access to the “Arcamax” – a cutting-edge, digital reality machine. 

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According to the concierge that we spoke with, the hotel, which was then operated by the Four Seasons, was still using actual keys at the time and not key cards as was portrayed in the movie.  For the scene in which John was shown fiddling with his key card, producers had to bring in a fake card reader to attach to one of the hotel’s real life doors.  So cool!

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In the 1987 thriller House of Games, con-man Mike (aka Joe Mantegna) and psychologist Margaret Ford (aka Lindsay Crouse) sneak into Room 1138 of the Four Seasons Olympic Hotel.  It’s absolutely amazing to me that the property still looks so similar today to how it appeared in a movie which was filmed over 23 years ago!!!!  At the time, much of the Olympic’s rich wood wall paneling was covered over with white paint, but otherwise the interior looks exactly the same today as it did then!  So darn cool! 

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In 1987’s Black Widow, the Olympic was the Seattle hotel where murderess Catharine Peterson (aka Theresa Russell) holed up while trying to trap her latest mark.

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The Olympic’s pool, which you can see a photograph of here, was also used in Black Widow as the spa where journalist Alex Barnes (aka Debra Winger) interviewed Etta (aka Diane Ladd) about her brother’s untimely death.

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The Olympic’s former Seneca Street entrance also appeared very briefly in the 1989 flick The Fabulous Baker Boys. And the 1973 movie Harry in your Pocket, which starred James Coburn as a pickpocket, was also filmed at the hotel. 

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  :)

Stalk It: The Fairmont Olympic Hotel is located at 411 University Street in Seattle.  You can visit the hotel’s official website here.

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2 comments

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  1. Ashley says:

    Wow what an incredible hotel!

    I found that Seattle filming map awhile ago, so bummed that it completely missed mentioning Mad Love! I would love to cyber-stalk Drew’s beautiful house from that film.

  2. Chas says:

    Ah House Of Games. One of the great little heard of movies. Everyone should watch it if you like movies with a twist to them. :)


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