When it comes to choosing deluxe downtown Tacoma accommodations, the Hotel Murano is pretty much a no-brainer.
That line sounds kind of like a slimy sales pitch, but the Northwest Nomad is no one’s peddler! In this case, it’s just the fact of the matter that the Murano is heads-and-away the most distinctive, unique, and classy hotel in downtown (probably in all of Tacoma, really).
When I first visited Tacoma over a decade ago, one of the sights that most branded itself into my memory was the enormous, decorative “swoosh” sculpture that stands outside the hotel. It was a sunny day and the light caught that green glass just right, and the sculpture looked captivating. I decided then that the next time I visited Tacoma, I’d stay at the Murano. I did, and I was not disappointed.
That first experience was many years ago, and today I actually live right across the street from the hotel. I see a lot of the crowds they get for their conferences and other events.
The Murano is beautiful, inside and out. The lobby is full of beautiful Native American artwork and unique glass sculptures, and the place never stops exuding energy. I walk or run by their main lobby often, and there are always guests hanging around just outside the lobby enjoying the vibe.
The Murano’s prices generally aren’t as high as you might expect, but they are a bit higher than some of the other downtown-area hotels. The sheer convenience of the location more than makes up for that, though. It also doesn’t hurt that the Murano is a few steps above the other hotels in terms of personality and quality. It’s also an establishment distinct to Tacoma. There are La Quinta’s and Holiday Inn’s everywhere, but only Tacoma has the Murano. It’s the city’s signature place of lodging.
Oh, and if you’re a potential Tacoma visitor weighing whether or not you want to visit the city, check out my thoughts on that. I’ve traveled every nook and cranny of the Pacific Northwest, and I fall in love with this region over and over again, but Tacoma’s got a unique combination of energy and grit that I’ve found nowhere else. Downtown Tacoma rose from the ashes in the 90s and has been growing nonstop ever since. The vital energy of that transformation is palpable on every street corner.
As always, feel free to contact me for any insights I might be able to share. The Northwest Nomad loves to talk shop.
(Featured image courtesy of Provenance Hotels. I am not associated with the organization in any way; they just happened to have a beautiful picture of the establishment, and one a few steps above what I could provide.)
Note: I went to the Sands independently and received nothing from them for my stay or for this article. I didn’t tell them I run a travel blog, and they don’t know I’m writing this. I receive no payment from them or any other place that I endorse.
The Sands is a Great Budget Stay in Ocean Shores, Washington
Well, I’ve tried nearly every hotel in Ocean Shores now, and I do believe I’ve found my favorite budget stay.
Going by cost-to-quality ratio, the Sands was my favorite lodging experience in town, and I’ve visited Ocean Shores more times than I can count. For just $89 dollars a night (95 after tax), in the middle of June, I got a room with a killer view and bird songs filling the air (more on the birds in just a bit).
Their rates are even lower in the off season, making this a terrific destination for an impromptu weekend getaway or overnight trip. This will definitely be my go-to place for future quick-trips.
There for the Beach, Not the Room
I’ve seen one reviewer online call the Sands’ rooms “dated,” but I didn’t get that impression. They have few frills, I guess, but I go to the beach for the beach, not to sit in my room, so that didn’t matter much to me. The room was clean and the bed was comfortable, the bathroom tidy and the shower nice with good hot water.
On this particular trip (ironically enough, considering the generalized statement I made about myself above), I actually did spend quite a bit of time in my room watching the birds in the bushes and the waves rolling over the beach beyond. The accommodations suited me perfectly for that.
There are two beach access points within short walking distance from the hotel, so you can make a circular trip of the beach without retracing your steps at all. Ocean Shores, by the way, has a sandy beach, which is not always easy to find in Washington, where the coasts are usually rugged and rocky.
Some other hotels in Ocean Shores sit right on the sand. This seems appealing, but the drawback to this is that the beach goers are always within earshot. The Sands has a buffer of grasses and bushes that makes the hotel itself feel like an isolated little oasis. I liked having that stretch of greenery there more than I’ve enjoyed being right on the sands.
Many Amenities: My Favorites are the Birds
My favorite part about the Sands is the birds. Handmade bird houses are located all over the grounds, so there are birds everywhere. Their singing creates a supremely peaceful setting.
The hotel also has a volleyball pit in the back and a sun deck with chairs called the Dolphin Cove. There’s an indoor pool and a recreation room above the office, a couple Jacuzzi tubs and a dry sauna. I didn’t partake of any of these amenities, but I gave them a gander and they looked nice to me. Personally, I didn’t need any of those things. I was happy with the bird songs and the ocean so close by.
When I travel, I usually spend very little time in my room except to sleep. If I do sit in the room, it’s just to read or enjoy the silence. So, for me, the basic accommodations were terrific.
There is No Wi-Fi Except in the Recreation Room
I’m making this its own section because it’s a point that is bound to bother some people. The rooms do not have wi-fi. To access wi-fi, you have to go to the recreation area above the office.
Personally, for me, this was a good thing. I like unplugging now and then. Honestly, I wish they didn’t even have a television. Disconnecting, far as I’m concerned, is relaxing and good for the mental health.
I understand this is a position that not everyone will take, of course, so I’m making certain to make this fact known loud and clear in my blog. I don’t want to influence you on anything that you won’t enjoy.
In that light, I should also add that the service at the Sands is perfectly good, but maybe not as warm or eager-to-please as you’ll find at some higher-end hotels. This, too, is something I frankly don’t care about, but am mentioning because I’ve seen some reviewers elsewhere criticize the Sands in this regard.
The gentleman at the front desk on the day I arrived was professional and polite. He made sure to get me the best view he could get at the best price.
The woman who was there on the day I checked out, meanwhile, was very helpful. We had a good chat and she filled me in some upcoming events and the likelihood of vacancies in late August. She introduced herself as Stacy. She was friendly, informative, and pleasant to deal with.
It usually doesn’t even occur to me to remark on the front desk reception, because it’s a non-issue to me. I just don’t really care. Since I’m trying to be as helpful to you folks as I can, however, I ought to mention it. I only stayed there once, so I can’t debunk the negative receptions I’ve seen in some reviews. But, I can say, that in my experience everyone was friendly and efficient.
They weren’t gushing with hospitality as I’ve seen in some hotels, I guess, but were friendly and good at their jobs, which is all I would ask for.
Location, Location, Location
Ocean Shores has plenty of good hotels, both high-end, budget, and in-between. If you’re looking for a high-end place, then the Sands might not be for you (I’ll be writing about the high-end places I think would be for you later).
What the Sands does offer is a terrific location at a very fair rate. To get an ocean view for less than a hundred bucks in June is not easy. I’d say it’s damn near impossible, really. Their prices, far as I can tell, are even lower in the off season.
Ocean Shores is a pretty small town, so the restaurant strip is never too far from you, no matter where you stay. Neither is the grocery store or gas station.
I’m not being endorsed in any way by the Sands. I’m just relating my honest, personal experience, which can be summed up thusly: The Sands is a nice little hotel with a killer location and bird songs filling the air, and I will be going back there, regularly, for sure.
I’ve not found a hotel so close to the beach for such a low price anywhere in Washington state.