201205“On a budget, I’d stay at the Pensione Nichols. Its signboard alone, on a sidewalk at the market and showing a Moorish boy in silhouette carrying a tray with two cups of coffee, would lure me in. Lindsey Nichols, an energetic young woman whose mother owns an antique shop on the ground floor, serves as the ever present hostess at a true pension upstairs, where the rooms are small, clean, and simple — no closets, just pegs; no sinks or toilets in most rooms but shared bathrooms; sometimes no windows but always skylights. The feeling in the large sitting rooms, where breakfast is served and which has a view of Elliott Bay, is cordial and relaxed but also faintly formal, as in Europe.”

“A City That Likes Itself” — Atlantic magazine


When I recommend a place to stay in the market, I point out a place that newcomers would certainly overlook … I refer to Elliott Bay’s best-kept secret, the bed and breakfast Pensione Nichols.

“Seattle’s Waterfront on the Edge” — Portland Oregonian

nov_ng“If you’re looking for a bargain, the Pensione Nichols is the place for style and value,” [Best Places Seattle editor Shannon] O’Leary continues. “It’s bohemian, filled with antiques and interesting guests. In some ways, it’s like staying someone’s home. If you’re comfortable in a B&B environment, you’ll like the Nichols. Plus it’s known for its great breakfasts.”

“Insider’s Seattle” — National Geographic Traveler magazine

“You probably have walked by its doorway a hundred times and never noticed the discreet bed-and-breakfast Pensione Nichols (1923 First Ave.; 206.441.7125; A well-kept secret in part because of its understated entrance, the European-style pensione is housed in a turn-of-the-century building overlooking Pike Place Market. [In the heart of downtown] this hotel isn’t just a secret, it’s a steal.”

“Best-Kept Hotel Secret” — Seattle magazine, “The Best” issue

roadrunner.18022“Who would imagine that just steps from Seattle’s famed Pike Place Market they could find a slice of old Europe as authentic as formaggio di Asiago or prosciutto Parmesan?

The only B&B downtown, squeezed between the bistros and bars on First Avenue in downtown Seattle, Pensione Nichols could be in Napoli itself — except that the plumbing works perfectly. An unpretentious entrance at street level opens to a broad staircase leading up to the 10 guestrooms and two 800 sq. ft. suites. Each room will take you back a half-century at least: real linen sheets, cozy comforters, a chaise lounge, classic wrought ironwork furniture and wood-framed sash windows. If you’re looking for a TV, look elsewhere. The telephone is in the “sitting room.”

But you don’t need these modern intrusions. Instead, choose a good book from the library and settle into an armchair to appreciate the natural light streaming in through the large picture windows. Or simply relax and enjoy the view overlooking Seattle’s harborage and market.

I really appreciated the ease with which the stress of the day could be left at the front door as I stepped into Pensione Nichols’ world of quiet and contemplation.”

“Sleeping in Seattle” — Road Runner magazine

[Pensione Nichols] would have fit right on the Left Bank in Paris, but for the perfect view of Elliott Bay available from the sitting room and rear fire escape.

“Frugal Traveler: Seattle” — The New York Times

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