Murano: A "Glassy" Place

Stepping through the sea-green entryway of the Hotel Murano delivers you into an expansive museum of a lobby, that is more of an experience than a room.
Written and photographed by J. Nichole Smith
Dramatic and artistic, your eyes are pulled from left to right, up and down. The walls, windows, floors and other flat surfaces all seem to reflect and refract light, as if the entire hotel existed inside a giant glass cube.

As we made our way through the lofty space, I couldn’t help but note that with equal parts fine art and whimsy, the Murano’s collection of gathering and sitting spaces between the entrance and the elevators, all seem to have their own pulse. From the life-size horse lamp to the cowhide floor tiles, the rainbow, pixie-stick reception desk to Danish glass Viking ships suspended over the stairs, this eclectic mash-up of color, style, culture and form leaves an all at once overwhelming and inspiring impression. I think I actually uttered an out-loud “wow”. Stylish décor, check.

When we reach reception (which, by the way, is glowing with intergalactic blue light) we get the low-down about the 4th floor restaurant, the Savi Day Spa, the Miro Salon, 24-hour fitness and business centers and several other niceties available at the Hotel. Abundant amenities check.

Our next big discovery happens the moment the elevator doors open. Ahead of us is a wallscape, made entirely of glass, with the visual biography of the artist to which our floor is assigned. In our case, the portrait of Danish artist Janusz Walentynowicz welcomes us to the ninth floor.

The spot-lit, dark-walled hallways add to the drama of our initial entrance and I can’t help but ponder just how visually delicious the Hotel has been thus far.

Olivia and I push our way into our corner room and are greeted with a decedent dose of daylight, pouring in through the wide, wall-to-wall windows. Crisp white bedding accented by Scandinavian-inspired throw pillows, hand-blown glass lamps, expansive desk space, iPod dock and the flat-screen TV all pale in comparison to the joy of falling backwards (or in Olivia’s case, jumping up onto) the plush King-size bed. Ahhh. Comfy bed, check.

Having braved rush-hour traffic from Seattle to Tacoma on a sunny Friday afternoon, I was quite ready to end my hunger and start my weekend. After dispensing her the treat, plush toy, and filling the water bowl provided by the hotel, I left Olivia to her blissful snoozing. I wandered down to the fourth floor to experience “Bite”, the Murano’s restaurant.

I was promptly seated with two delightful sights in plain-view. First, the majestic Mt. Rainier at sunset (some of the best fine-art nature has to offer) and second,
a piece titled “Oakland Deck,” a set of giant mixed media playing cards by Therman Statom (a Pratt and RISD grad currently offering workshops in Germany, Africa and little ol’ Pilchuck, WA) - Great view, check.

Just as delightful as the sights from my table, were the first few items delivered to my table. Cold, wheaty hefeweizen, rosemary rolls with sea-salted butter, fries and gravy (garlic herb fries with mushroom zinfandel gravy and gorgonzola cheese) and fried green tomatoes that I am still dreaming about (with crunchy cornmeal breading and salty scallion aioli.) Entrée? Chicken Olivida with yukon mashers, and for dessert, lemon crème brulee with caramel and fresh berries. Delicious bites, check.

When I returned to my room, Olivia was right where I’d left her, a sound-asleep pile of Great Dane surrounded by high-thread count lumps of duvet. The city view from our room was twinkly and silent, just the way we like it.

In the morning I took Olivia for a walk around downtown Tacoma. The bummer about staying downtown on the weekend is that most of the little coffee shops and corner stores are closed. We did manage to find a Tully’s near S. 9th St. but I was really glad we had walked – the massive construction projects and series of one-way streets seemed to make the Murano-to-Tully’s path a complicated one by car.

For the dog, there were several tiny spots of city foliage along the way, but if you feel like taking a long walk, visit Wright Park, large and grassy and only about 11 blocks North of the hotel, on the corner of 6th Ave. and S. G St. This late 19th century park hosts the W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory as well as a cannon from the Spanish War and several bronze and sandstone statues that all help make your morning stroll a pleasant one. Walking distance to potty spot, check.

Of course if you and your pup are feeling lazy, you can always just order breakfast in bed (gingerbread French toast or northwest benedict anyone?) and score your morning latte in the Hotel’s lobby on you way out.

If you do have plans to venture out and about in Tacoma there are certainly some must-sees. If you haven’t had your fill of glass art at the Murano, you should definitely consider their “Kiss my Glass” package, which includes two tickets to the Museum of Glass, lessons on glassblowing at the Tacoma Glass Blowing Studio, take-home gift and valet parking.

Or, how about the “Artsy Fartsy” package, which includes tickets to the Tacoma Art Museum, Museum of Glass and the Washington State History Museum? If you haven’t already, you should be sure to visit the Tacoma Art Museum to say hello to “Leroy” the giant puppy sculpture that will be the first to greet you as you enter. Dane-sized dose of art and learning, check.

Keep in mind that unless like Leroy, your dog is made of paper and wood, the Museums are not dog-friendly activities, so you’ll have to leave the pooch for play at one of Tacoma’s many dog-sitting facilities. Our favorite is Lucky Dog Daycare, which is actually just west of Wright Park on 6th Ave. If you’re feeling a little shop-happy you should definitely visit their sister-store, Lucky Dog Outfitters that is just a little further west on 6th. This outdoor-inspired boutique has literally everything your canine could want for playing, sleeping, eating, having a party or dressing up (and a few things for you too) – all meticulously merchandised with vintage wood and cast-iron accents, giving it an authentic “mountain cabin” feel. Not to mention the all-girl staff is over-the-top helpful and excited to meet every pup that steps paw through the door. Be sure to stop in for a treat or five. Lucky dog, happy human, check.

Gear up for the Murano at the CityDog Shop.

More Information
Hotel Murano
1320 Broadway Plaza, Tacoma, 866.986.8083

Rates vary by availability, but start at: $159
Pet Fee: $45/night
Wifi: $9.95/day

Museum of Glass
1801 Dock St. Tacoma, 1.866.4MUSEUM

Tacoma Museum of Art
1701 Pacific Avenue Tacoma, 253.272.4258

Lucky Dog Daycare
1610 6th Ave, Tacoma, 253.2749663

Lucky Dog Outfitters
3411 6th Ave # B Tacoma, 253.761.4486
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