Salish Lodge & Spa in Snoqualmie, Wash., is one of those places that the travel gods sometimes reward you with when you least expect it.
Booked at the tail end of a driving tour of the Northwest, I had chosen it because of its 30-minute drive from the Seattle airport, to connect with an early-morning flight. In other words, I wasn’t expecting much. Boy, was I surprised!
Built in 1916, this eight-room inn served as a rest stop for travelers journeying over Snoqualmie Pass in the North Cascade Range. They came for the famous country breakfasts and stayed to marvel at the Snoqualmie Falls and river, formed by ice and glacier debris flow more than 10,000 years ago. As they approached, they were greeted by the roar of whitewater over granite cliffs, the staggering power of water plunging 268 feet down into a 65-foot-deep pool.
Completely remodeled and reopened in 1988, Salish Lodge is perched above this unchanged wonder of nature, a short walk yet miles away in terms of milieu from this major Washington tourist attraction. More than 1.5 million people come each year to view the falls, the hydroelectric power plants and the lovely two-acre park, with free viewing and parking from dawn until dusk. If it all looks familiar, you may recognize it for its appearance in the cult TV series Twin Peaks.
A soothing aroma of cedar and a sense of tranquility greet you as you enter the lodge and spa. Each of the charming 84 guest rooms has a wood-burning fireplace and a two-person Jacuzzi soaking tub. The rooms ooze Pacific Northwest charm and make it very easy to simply stay inside, particularly during the November through March rainy season.
I loved walking through the park at dusk on a cloudy, misty evening and would not have been the least shocked to encounter Heathcliff, deep in melancholy along the windswept moors. It has that Wuthering Heights aura.
Too many awards to list have been bestowed on Salish Lodge, many recognizing its romantic atmosphere: Condé Nast listed it as No. 49 in Readers Choice Top 100 Hotels; Wine Spectator, Best of Award of Excellence for 21 consecutive years; Most Romantic, Best Place to Kiss, Best Place to Propose, Best Place to Spend Your Wedding Night. You get the picture.
The Dining Room with its stunning views of the falls and river features farm-fresh seasonal ingredients and epicurean dining. World-famous country breakfasts include Salish honey from heaven poured from on high over buttery homemade biscuits.
Which brings me to the bees. Beginning with a four-hive, 120,000-honeybee apiary producing 600 pounds of honey, the hillside apiary now includes an organic vegetable garden, herb garden, fields of wildflowers and an ever-growing contingency of buzzing bees and hives. The spa also utilizes this ambrosia, choosing herbs such as rosemary, lavender, basil and mint to blend with the honey, creating a custom scrub.
Yes, there’s life and activity outside this idyllic getaway. The TPC is the only Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course in the Pacific Northwest; and there’s fishing, hiking, horseback riding, biking, skiing and rafting from leisurely floats to thrilling rapids. Snoqualmie is also home to the Northwest Railway Museum and a veritable graveyard of once-grand railroad cars.
The Woodman Lodge, a holdover from a bygone era and restored as a tribute to hardworking pioneers who worked harvesting timber, mining coal and building a railroad, is a great place for grilled steaks and slow-roasted prime rib. A five-minute drive into this sleepy little town was delightful, but I couldn’t wait to get back to Salish Lodge, with its cascading waterfall, cozy rooms, inviting library, tempting gift shop, therapeutic spa and honey bees.
I never did figure out if bees actually have knees — or where exactly that marvelous 1920s phrase came from — but I can tell you without equivocation that Salish Lodge is indeed the bee’s knees.
— Judy Crowell is a Noozhawk contributing writer, author, freelance travel writer and part-time Santa Barbara resident. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed are her own.