Port Townsend’s Clam Cannery Hotel

FYI: Our stay at the Clam Cannery was comped, we were invited by the owners.

Port Townsend is such a great getaway from Seattle — it’s a two hour drive plus a ferry trip — close enough for the ambitious to go for the day but far away enough to feel like somewhere else. It’s a good town for eating, wandering, window shopping, just poking around. The old brick buildings are in great shape — they’re clearly well loved. In the off season, Port Townsend is a quiet old seaport with lots of Victorian architecture and it is, in the completely cliched meaning of the word, charming. In summertime, it’s home to all kinds of festivals, it’s lively and fun. Another cliche and in this case, totally appropriate.

The Clam Cannery is right on the waterfront, it’s a cool old brick building that did indeed used to be a clam cannery. It’s had a gorgeous renovation, inside and out and currently houses four vacation rental units — they’re apartments, really — and some still unfinished space downstairs. We had a studio — a very large room with a full kitchen and a few of the ferry dock. While we were in town we walked everywhere, it’s close to all the waterfront restaurants and stores, we didn’t use the car unless we were heading out of town. I love staying in a place where I can walk everywhere.

There’s a tremendous amount of thought given to the building materials — the counters in the kitchen are poured concrete with shells, there’s hammered copper on the doors and stove backsplash, the cabinets are recycled wormwood timber, I’m sitting at the counter and it’s made of a smooth refurbished piece of redwood or cedar — everything has a polished but not fussy feel, I like that a lot.

The owners left us some treats — I admit it, I love it when there’s a cheese plate or fruit basket for me on check in, it’s one of the great perks of being “press.” There were also some useful odds and ends around — it’s a little frustrating to stay in a place with a kitchen and find yourself buying odd things like, oh, salt and pepper. There’s a stocked spice cabinet and a few other useful cooking items that are intended for all the guests. I like that, too.

There were few things that were a little less than perfect. In our unit, there was no towel rack or hook near the shower, only near the sink, so there’s no good place to hang your fluffy bathrobe (I never expect to have this little amenity and LOVE it when it’s provided) or towel. The floors are lovely gray brown polished concrete, but they’re cold — I’d packed my slippers, they live in my bag — you’ll want yours if you stay here. The bed is super comfortable, oh my, and the bedding is nice too,  but the frame was noisy, every time one of us rolled over it complained. Finally, the furniture, all attractive and comfortable, is a little oddly arranged — there’s no good place to sit if you want to watch movies on the big flat screen TV. This is all minor stuff and all easy to fix, but noticeable none the less.

I dropped a note to the owners about all of these issues and save for one, the response was, “We’re on it! Thanks for letting us know!” The only thing that they couldn’t address  right away was the heat — the floors will have radiant heating once the ground floor is completed. This gives some context for our stay; if I think of our visit as a preview, I can imagine that the hotel will be something very special once all the details are worked out. The owners are shooting to have everything completed before this summer.

I’m a big fan of  independent hotels or vacation rental by owner type properties. Clam Cannery absolutely suits the way I like to travel. It’s not a budget stay, though — the site says that rates start at 275/night — so I’ll be honest and tell you that I’d not stay here on my own because of the price. There are some discounted packages available — check the site — and Clam Cannery is also listed in the Seattle Tour Saver, a book full of discounts for travel in the greater Seattle area. (The Tour Saver folks fall under the heading of “friends of Nerd’s Eye View”, another FYI.)

A few practical reminders:

  • Pack your slippers or the big woolly socks.
  • There’s no dedicated parking. There’s 24 hour parking a few blocks away but you may want to unload first if you’re traveling heavy.
  • There’s a full kitchen, so if you’re wired that way, bring your groceries — or buy fresh seafood at the marina.

Clam Cannery is at 111 Quincy Street in beautiful downtown Port Townsend.

Port Townsend Family Travel

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