By Beth Berube
When I heard there were rental apartments across from the pergola in Pioneer Square, I decided to take a peek. I live in a loft dwelling and when family members come to visit, I really need to have a backup plan if the walls close in on me. But, finding affordable accommodations in the downtown area is challenging.
Welcome to the Historic Apartments at Merchants Café and Saloon, where a one night stay can be had for the price of a pair of sunglasses at one of Seattle’s swanky hotel gift shops.
The apartments are actually above the Merchants Café. In 2013, Darcy Hanson rehabbed the dilapidated digs. She managed to retain their old fashioned charm by keeping the original doors and hardware and showcasing exposed brick walls. She replaced the old carpet with new wool carpeting, painted the walls and updated the kitchens. The units even have washers and dryers and, as of this year, air conditioning. Each apartment has a distinct personality. There is the red room, the green room, the pink room and the wagon wheel room. I may have forgotten a room or two, but you get the picture. My favorite is the wagon wheel room which overlooks the pergola and is very sunny.
Darcy told me that in the late 1800s, this building housed a saloon downstairs and the upstairs rooms were used as a brothel. As we climbed the stairs, she pointed out an alcove where a madam once sat behind a cage, sweeping up young men’s silver coins before directing them to the whoopee-making bedrooms upstairs. If you love old timey ambiance, you will not be disappointed. And if you are jonesing for creep, Seattle Ghost Tours make a stop at The Merchants Café. Google Merchants Ghostly Gal for the shuddery scoop.
The pros definitely outweigh the cons. The building dates back to 1890, so there is no elevator. Also, a couple of the rooms share a wall with Trinity, a dance club that throbs with music well into the night on Friday and Saturday. You may want to discuss this with Darcy before booking your room over a weekend. The other rooms are respectfully quieter. If you need assistance with your luggage, even late at night, employees at the Merchants Café are happy to assist you.
Lots of pictures and information can be found if you Google Historic Apartments at Merchants Café and Saloon or look at them in airb&b.