Just a few blocks from the rambunctious nightlife of Broadway Pike/Pine, the Sorrento Hotel and its restaurant and bar have quietly persisted for nearly a century as one of the few remnants of Seattle’s original cocktail culture. Now the family behind the hotel is seeking to apply some of the the Ace Hotel “casual luxury” recipe to breathe new life into the First Hill gem.
The Sorrento has announced that the Seattle-based firm Magnetic/ERV is taking over management of the 76-room hotel and plans to start its revamp work early next year. Magnetic/ERV is a hospitality management company with staff that have worked on the Palm Springs Ace Hotel and a handful of other boutique hotels around the country.
Cori Ready, a Seattle event designer that’s working with the Magnetic/ERV, told CHS the management group is still in the early planning stages of the overhaul. “We want to make it more like a culture hub,” Ready said.
Ready said the team will start guest room facelifts sometime next year, aiming for a Spring 2015 completion. The team will also re-conceptualize The Hunt Room restaurant and Fireside Room lounge, as well as give the building’s unique Madison-facing courtyard a new look.
It won’t be the only icon of First Hill getting a facelift. CHS reported in October that the much-loved Town Hall will be undergoing a serious set of upgrades in advance of its 100th anniversary in 2016. Meanwhile, there are still no new hotel facilities planned for the First Hill or Capitol Hill area despite the opportunity some developers claim would lie in making the facilities easier to build in the area.
Sometimes off the radar to Capitol Hill’s under-40 crowd, The Hunt Room’s steak and seafood fare has been a business lunch and date night destination for 30 years. The Fireside Room frequently hosts bands, something that may expand under the new management. The Sorrento is also one of the few all-inclusive wedding spots around Capitol Hill/First Hill and has a impressive top-floor patio.
The Sorrento is owned by Capitol Hill preservation-focused developer Michael Malone, who purchased he hotel in 1981. Malone’s Hunters Capital is behind Pike/Pine auto-row era projects at the Dunn Automotive and the Coleman Automotive buildings.
In 2013, CHS talked with Malone about the state of the business around the hotel he purchased in the ’80s and sunk more than $4.5 million into for a renovation restoring “the elegance and charm that once drew well-to-do families such as the Guggenheims and Vanderbilts” —
“The place was a dive,” said Malone, who still cringes at the puka shell wallboard that covered up the distinctive Honduran mahogany panels in the Fireside Room. “It was a pimpy Trader Vic’s.”