a quarters fit for a traveling captain


  • January 5, 2021
  • Spaces

A century-old seafarers getaway on Whidbey Island benefits from a rich local history and thoughtful renovations and design partnerships, enticing Seattle locals and farther-flung travelers alike with its old-school charm and close proximity to some of the more breathtaking natural landscapes in the continental US.

To set the stage for this reflection of Captain Whidbey—a historic hotel located on six acres of pristine Pacific Northwest island real estate—it may help to mentally position yourself somewhere between Twin Peaks’ Great Northern Hotel (without the murder) and Moonrise Kingdom’s eclectic New Penzance (without Bill Murray, though you could imagine he’d enjoy it). Are you there? Great.

If you’d like to orient yourself in more practical terms, Whidbey Island sits 30 miles north of Seattle, surrounded by the Olympic Mountains on the northern border of Puget Sound. The island is also home to a Naval Air Station, Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve, and a handful of well-trafficked National Parks. Captain Whidbey is nestled in picturesque Penn Cove, on the north end of the Island, and is located by a hand-painted roadside sign that looks like it hasn’t changed since the 1960s.

A vacation destination worthy of David Lynch & Wes Anderson comparisons means that no aesthetic detail at Captain Whidbey is too trivial. You can expect a tightly-crafted immersive experience, starting with your arrival—by ferry, of course—down to the perfect antique maritime painting hanging above your bed. Guest rooms and public spaces exude lived-in comfort, and are predominantly decorated in materials and hues that echo the surrounding natural landscape; think knotty pine slat walls, with plush furnishings in the deep greens and blues of old-growth forests and the waters of Puget Sound.

To quote the hotel’s website, “First glimpses of the Island deliver changing landscapes.” And changing landscapes are exactly what Captain Whidbey has presided over throughout its 113-year tenure. Since opening in 1907, the guest rooms in the Historic Lodge remain virtually unchanged, providing intimate sleeping quarters, shared bathrooms, and easy access to a cozy library housing “inspirational and classic sea tales, useful local guides and the best of Whidbey Island history.” Lodge perks also include a direct landline to the bartender in the tavern, a welcome convenience if you can’t bear the thought of giving up your seat by the fire for a refill.

Partial to more modern amenities and privacy? The Lagoon Rooms and Cabins offer thoughtfully updated alternatives. Lagoon Rooms are characterized by serene, Scandinavian-influenced custom furnishings and artisan textiles, a mellow canvas blending harmoniously with the scenic views outside, whereas the Cabins are a celebration of the local design vernacular. Each of the four Cabin units acts as a showcase for the talents of a Pacific Northwest original—The Glasswing, a collaboration with the eponymous Seattle design studio and purveyor, is a Cyties favorite and features a King size bed and wood-burning fireplace.

Hungry from a day of exploring nearby Deception Pass or cruising the cove in a rented rowboat? Thaw out with a Captain’s Chowder and local draft from the tavern, currently offering takeout meals only due to COVID-19 restrictions. Also on the grounds: a seasonal chef’s garden and a private dock stretching out into the cove, an excellent opportunity for whale watching and/or personal reflection—as the star of your very own Lynch-Anderson narrative, it’s best to welcome the unexpected.


All photos courtesy of: www.captainwhidbey.com


If you’re looking for the ultimate Captain Whidbey lodging experience, your best bet is the Captain’s Suite

All the signature cocktails in the Tavern are named after Joni Mitchell songs—we’re sure there’s a story there somewhere

Make sure to visit the nearby state parks while you’re in town: mysterious coves, rugged cliffs, jaw-dropping sunsets, it’s all there

The fireplace in the Historic Lodge is an original, still cooking 112 years later