Sorrento Stories

Everyone has a Sorrento Story. And it’s true. We’re pleased the Sorrento Hotel has been the place where memories are made and traditions are born. Here are some of our favorite stories from years’ past.


(2011) Imagine

Imagine being part of the process of the lifesaving activities that occur every day at Puget Sound Blood Center.

We have partnered with the Sorrento Hotel for many years now and we want you [Sorrento Hotel] to know that we appreciate the efforts made to provide the kind of customer service that is rarely experienced in today’s business world.  We want you to know that your efforts are part of the lifesaving miracles that happen every day here at the Blood Center.  We recently began booking rooms at the Sorrento for bone marrow donors.  These donors joined the national registry and promised to donate bone marrow when a match is found for a patient needing a bone marrow transplant.  As part of the National Marrow Donor Program, we often collect bone marrow from donors here at Puget Sound Blood Center.  When these special donors travel a distance to make this donation, they need hotel accommodations.  That’s where you [the Sorrento Hotel] come in.

One of our donors checked into the Sorrento on January 31st. She and her husband traveled to Seattle so that she could donate bone marrow for a patient who might die without a bone marrow transplant.  So that she could be here at the Blood Center very early in the morning for the lengthy and sometimes painful procedure, we provided accommodations at the Sorrento.  This family is not well off.  They don’t even own suitcases.  They brought their clothing for the trip in trash bags.  This might have been frowned upon when checking into such a nice hotel, but your staff, without even knowing the story, treated this guest with the utmost respect, cheerfully checking her into the hotel, putting the trash bags on the bellman’s cart and kindly escorting her and her husband to one of your elegantly appointed guest rooms.  In her own words, “I felt very special”.

We want you to know how much we appreciate the extra efforts made by your staff to be of service to the donors and guests that we send your way.  [The Sorrento staff] helped make the donor experience even more meaningful by putting her at ease and treating her like the important person she is.   And although we don’t know the patient who received that precious transplant, we know it made a difference and perhaps…saved a life.


(2000) “Newlywed” Surprise

After my many stays with you over several years on business trips, my wife had occasion to accompany me to Seattle from our home in Anchorage.  When I called ahead for reservations, I mentioned that I would appreciate a special room because my “bride” would be accompanying me on this visit.

To my surprise, when we checked in, not only were we greeted with a superior room, but a bottle of champagne and a personal note from your General Manager, as well, expressing his congratulations to the newlyweds! (In reality, “newlyweds” of 17 years!) My astonishment at your personal service and special touches was eclipsed only by my embarrassment about the situation. Until today, the misunderstanding has never surfaced beyond the occasional chuckle my wife and I share when recalling the visit!


(1997) Secret Agenda

Almost two years ago in November of 1997 I had the unexpected pleasure of staying at the Sorrento Hotel for three nights. I say unexpected because, unbeknownst to me, the receptionist at my company made the reservation. I was in Seattle along with a co-worker to attend a seminar. I had assumed that accommodations would be at the usual Holiday Inn or Best Western, which are comfortable enough for business, but are by no means on an equal playing field with the Sorrento Hotel.

Now as I look back upon it, I believe that the receptionist who made the reservations may have had a secret agenda for my female co-worker and myself. How dare she set us up in such a wonderfully romantic environment! My employer had recently hired her and I must say that I was a bit miffed when she started at my company. I had been at the company for almost two years and felt that I had earned the position that she filled. Needless to say I was probably not the nicest person to her at the time. However, I did manage to persuade my boss to allow Karen to attend the seminar in Seattle with me. Guess this was my way to make a peace offering.

The flight to Seattle was pleasant, and it was at that time that I noticed a little something about Karen. I wasn’t quite sure what it was…I had never seen her outside of a professional environment before. After we arrived at the airport we rented a car. Karen recommended a sports utility vehicle and I said to myself, “Alright, my kind of woman.” We then proceeded to the Sorrento Hotel. Karen and I were not very familiar with the roads and after an unintentional tour of the city we arrived at the Hotel. I must say that we were both extremely delighted when we pulled up to the Hotel.

We checked into our respective rooms to drop off our luggage. I was not in my room for more than five minutes when Karen called. She was so excited at how beautiful the room was and the luxuries placed throughout. I too was very excited to be in such a unique place. We were planning to do a little sightseeing that evening, but decided instead that we should take advantage of the wonderful opportunity given to us. Karen and I met in the lobby and had dinner and a nightcap at the Hunt Club. The food, ambiance and company that evening were remarkable.

The next morning I wasn’t sure what to make of it all. The night before was a wonderful romantic evening, but I wasn’t sure if I had just gotten caught up in the moment in a perfect setting. Well, to make a long story short, the remaining two nights were just as intoxicating as the first and some 21 months later Karen and I are engaged to be married. After some discussion we came to the conclusion that the Sorrento Hotel is where we would like to begin our honeymoon. After all, it is the Sorrento Hotel that helped ignite the spark between us.


(1994) Through the Years

How can we select only a few stories? Past Mother’s Day, three work related parties, two private mother/daughter stays when each of our daughters turned 12 (1985 and 1988), one college graduation party (Seattle Pacific University 1995) and a Christmas Reunion. Each stay has been very meaningful!

However, since this hotel has been such a part of our family’s life, let me give you an overview of our anniversaries. We started by coming to the Sorrento for our 15th wedding anniversary. It was a stretch to make the decision to hire a babysitter and decide that our marriage was worth a wonderful dinner and overnight stay in Seattle. That first stay was worth so much more than the money we paid. Every year, on the Friday closest to September 22nd, we would come. (We were married September 22nd, 1968.)

Every year as we checked in we would smell the just polished mahogany in the lobby and savor the soft, beautiful background music as we would walk to our room. It was such a relaxing experience just to be there, that we were honestly surprised to find something special in our room. Every time there actually was a surprise!  Maybe a bottle of wine, a complimentary drink at the Hunt Club, or an upgrade to a large suite. But nothing prepared us for what happened on our 26th anniversary in 1994. (We have never been treated like that anywhere since. Not even in Paris, and not even by devoted relatives and friends.) Brut sparkling wine was waiting for us when we got to our room. When we finished our fabulous meal at the Hunt Club they gave us complimentary dessert cookies and Sorrento coffee. Then when we got back to our room there was a pink buttery silk nightgown laid out for me and black silk shorts (with Sorrento on them) for Leon. Pink rose petals were spread all over the bed and pillows. It was absolutely wonderful! We were blown away!

Some years our budget was tight and we’d drive up in the Honda and some in a Mercedes. But every year we’d leave renewed with hope and say “This was really the best time.” But every visit ends up more meaningful than the previous.

We have always saved something tangible (matchbooks, napkins, notes from dinner). The last two anniversary visits, I finally got the nerve to ask if I could have a snip of the ivy from the hotel. I am well aware it is easier to buy an ivy plant than to “root” a sprig in water, but no plant bought at any store would be from the Sorrento. Both starts are now in a 25th anniversary ivy bed at our home.

Thank you for being our respite home away from home. It has become a great tradition and provided many, many memories. Please note that we are booked on Friday night, September 24th because it is closest to our 31st anniversary on September 22, 1999.


(1990) It had to be Kismet

I guess our story starts on May 19, 1990. That was the day my wife and I married. Everything was incredible; the weather, the small deck overlooking the serene waters. Surrounding Fox Island, even the smiles seemed intensified on the faces of those attending the wedding and the reception which followed at the Sorrento Hotel. At first we were nervous that, because of the distance from Fox Island to the Sorrento, we would lose the momentum of the day. But arriving at the hotel, we sensed it was kismet that we had chosen the Sorrento. When we checked into the penthouse suite, we perused the nooks and intimate privacy of the library room. There, lying on the table was a copy of the same book from which earlier in the day a poem was read to our wedding guests. It was an obscure title; one that I had never heard of until my bride read me a passage that described our love for each other. This was a true sign that the day was ours.

The May evening was an exclamation point to the view and ambience of the hotel’s Top of the Town restaurant and penthouse suite. The day was cooling, but the unpredictable rain showers of the week had yielded to a spectacular sunset. It was perfect! Storybook doesn’t begin to describe what my new bride and I were feeling. It was as if the day, the surroundings, the event, were one. We vowed that we would return to this magical place!

The night was scheduled, our sixth anniversary. My wife suspected that we would visit the Sorrento, but only to relive a moment, not an evening. Upon our arrival, I told her that the hotel was permitting us visit the Top of the Town for a few minutes. I spoke to the front desk personnel, seemingly to ask permission to visit, but was actually getting the keys to the suite for the night. Stepping off the elevator, we went past the penthouse suite and my wife remarked that she wished to relive that one night in the suite. At the former hotel restaurant, I tried the key in the lock of the Top of the Town and said,   “That’s funny, it doesn’t work.” Then to bait her, I suggested that maybe the staff had incorrectly given us the key to the suite. I quickly walked back to the suite telling her that I was going to try the door. She scolded me saying that it may be occupied. She was mortified when I opened the door uncaring of who may be on the other side. I stepped in, she stepped in. It was quiet. There was a brief pause then I said to my wife, “Welcome back, if only for one night!”


(Early 1980’s) Don’t Foget to get the License…

Last month my wife & I celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary on August 25th AND 26th. We spent the night of the 25th at the Sorrento in room 601. I believe we still have the key tucked away as a keepsake… Yes, we confess, we took the key!

How we got to the Sorrento is a long story. My wife’s father used your hotel a lot for business during the ‘80s. The company was throwing a Halloween costume party for employees & guests and the Sorrento graciously donated a very nice room as a prize. My fiancée and I went as a Bee (John Belushi bee costume) and a poinsettia (I made the flower costume myself!). We won Best Couple hands down. But when the prizes were awarded, we were robbed. My future father-in-law pulled the night at the Sorrento out of the hat, read it aloud and immediately pocketed the envelope. Maybe the costume combination gave dad too much to think about.

The following summer, during the wedding planning, dad said we could have the envelope on our wedding night. Wedding plans commenced. My mother-in-law worked very hard and invested a significant amount of time and money on the wedding. I, on the other hand, had little to do. I was reminded several times to GET THE LICENSE – my only task. Two days before the wedding my mother-in-law and fiancée decided enough was enough. It was time to go to the city and GET THE LICENSE, so off we went. After signing the documents and paying the fee I asked for the license and was told “Oh no, you can’t have it now due to the 72 hour waiting period” (a Washington State statute). I responded, “Huh?” and mom proceeded to lose all respect for her soon to be “son.” The clerk said we would have to wait until after midnight of the 26th to pick it up in the courthouse lobby in downtown Seattle. I argued that this was unacceptable and the young woman with the multi-colored Mohawk behind the glass told me point blank, “I guess the wedding is off.” If mom had had a gun, I would have been dead. People were coming from as far away as Hong Kong for our night.

The ride home was a long one. When we arrived home, we called our priest. The next call was to the archdiocese. After a half day of bartering a compromise was reached. The church would let us go through with the ceremony but we would have to return at 6:30a.m. the following morning with witnesses and get married again. Take it or leave it. We GRABBED it.

The wedding was quite a night. We were so busy with pictures, reception lines, cake cutting, etc. we never had time to eat. We did drink a wee bit of champagne though. We got in the limo after midnight and headed for the courthouse. I went in and asked the guard at the lobby for the envelope with our names on it. I finally had it. I felt like Harrison Ford in the Temple of Doom. As I turned to leave, the guard says, “Why’d ya wait, I’d a given it to ya two days ago.”

We finally made it to the Sorrento. It had taken us ten months to use our prize and a lot of grief, but we had finally made it. My wife Judy asked for me to call room service because we were both starving. The lobby answered, “Er, ugh, room service is closed, sorry.” I couldn’t believe it! Then the phone rang. The front desk had a plan to send a cab to 13 Coins for take-out. By 3a.m. we were dining on rich, heavy, garlicky 13 Coins food – just what we needed after a couple of bottles of champagne. Needless to say, we were very impressed by the night staff’s creativity!

We awoke at 5a.m. to our wake up call. Oh God, we felt bad. We got all our things together and headed for Saint Mark’s, praying our witness would show up. Not only did the best man and maid of honor show up, so did several other ushers and bridesmaids. We were married again on the 26th.

We love the Sorrento Hotel. We have been telling this story for 16 years and everyone loves it. When we stay in Seattle, we stay at the Sorrento. It is the ONLY hotel in our book.


(1967) Sorrento Bookends

Pale blue walls, gold and white graceful-legged furniture. The décor was French provincial I’d been told. Fabulous elegant I thought, but then, what did I know. I was a 19-year-old kid from North Bend, who’d never been in a hotel before.

The hotel was the Sorrento; the time was the last week in December 1967. I was, until a week before, a sophomore at the University of Washington, just now taking my first steps in what became a memorable life as a performer.

In 1967, Alaska Airlines created a company of singers and dancers to tour the west promoting Alaska as a vacationland. There were six singers, I recall, a couple of musicians and tech people, two dancers: Fred and me.

I moved into the Sorrento that last blustery week of the year along with the rest of the company. We spent three weeks of long days rehearsing on the top floor, and lovely evenings in the piano bar listening to Bob Banks sing while pretending to be old enough to consume the drinks we ordered.

I can’t remember the room number, but to this day some 32 years later, I can see that suite in every detail, unlike the hundreds of rooms I’ve occupied and forgotten since that time. (I do however remember one really horrible hotel in Dubrovnik but that’s another story.)

Eventually our little company left the Sorrento to begin the tour. From there, I spent some years performing on TV and in theater before moving to New York where I became a soloist with the Martha Graham Dance Company. After years of touring around the world, several years ago moved back to the Northwest – I came home.

I had celebrated my first “grown up” New Year’s Eve in 1967 at the Sorrento. I remember dining up in the ballroom, our rehearsal space magically transformed for a wonderful New Year’s Eve party. I wore a flame-orange chiffon dress and drank champagne for the first time. When the opportunity arose to spend New Year’s Eve 1999 at the Sorrento, I wanted very much to be there for the celebration. As I finished my career, it seems fitting that your lovely hotel has in funny way, acted as the bookends for my wonderful wild ride of a life as a professional dancer.


(1966) 1.5 Carats of Luck

In 1966 my family stayed at the Sorrento while attending my grandmother’s funeral. There was so much chaos and confusion, between the funeral arrangements, the family coming and going, and it being the first time our family of ten (eight children under the age of 14) had ever stayed in a hotel.

In all the confusion my mother lost the diamond that had been taken from my grandmother’s engagement ring. She had wrapped it in a tissue and put it in her purse. We found it in the waste basket in the hotel room. Unbelievably, later that day, she lost it again! Not to be found this time, in spite of concentrated help from the Sorrento staff.

As we left the hotel later that day and were loading up our van, someone looked down and saw the 1.5 carat diamond lying in the gutter by the curb. Pretty incredible! Thirty years later.


(1962) Smith Love Story

Fifty years ago, Court Smith and Judy Price celebrated a very special evening at the Sorrento Hotel; Prom night in 1962. At a young age of 17, Judy, who attended Blanchet High School, was asked by the mature, established gentleman, Court, to be his date to the Ingram High School Prom. Judy happily accepted and was eager for the big outing.

While many other young men had planned dates to Dick’s Drive-in and other diners for a quick bite, Court had arranged a very elegant, romantic night for the two of them prior to the dance. The couple dined in the Top of the Town at the Sorrento Hotel, the original restaurant located on the 7th floor, with an immaculate view of the city, known for its live entertainment. Not only was Judy impressed by Court’s selection of the classiest restaurant in town, but also very pleased to be out without supervision, a rare occasion in ‘62.

Now, living in Edmonds, the couple has been married for 48 years. In February of 2012, Mr. and Mrs. Smith decided to bring back the memories of that night they hold so close to their hearts. The couple enjoyed an overnight stay at the Sorrento Hotel to celebrate their wedding anniversary. The morning of their departure Mr. and Mrs. Smith rode the same elevator up to the very room where they had their Prom dinner, The Top of the Town. Without delay, they were drawn to the Southwest corner window, the same spot they dined 50 years prior. Though now the windows present a slightly different view, the couple felt like they were stepping back in time. The evening is one Mr. and Mrs. Smith will never forget.


(1959) Great Necks and Sailboats

Early fall 1959. I’m a 28 year old female, new to Seattle and have been included in a big party in the Leschi area. Lots of people my age and most of us are single. I view a male stranger across a crowded room. Actually I view the back of his neck. I like the neck. Swimmer’s neck. I go to meet him. Oh Lord, he’s got a sailboat as well as a great neck. We go sailing the next day. I am in love with his sailboat and the back of his neck. We continue sailing dates even after I toss the sail bag into the cockpit and the thermos of hot buttered rum erupts all over the jib. It was a cold sail in more ways than one.

Sometime in late fall ’59, man with a great neck and sailboat suggests dinner at the Top of the Sorrento. This man has CLASS. It’s dress-up time. Man with great neck/sailboat arrives in beautiful dark blue shirt and handsome tie, and we’re off for a roast beef, baked potato and a VIEW. Martinis, wine, dinner and conversation. Man with GN/boat pushes back from window table, lights cigarette and crosses legs—exposing the rattiest argyles I’ve ever seen. Frayed, over washed and baggy. I know immediately that this man needs me. We are married a year later. 39th anniversary coming up.


(1951) A Long Way Down

It was the Sorrento Hotel that brought me to Seattle 48 years ago. It was my first of many visits to the Sorrento and certainly, the most memorable. In September 1951, as a member of the USAF Strategic Air Command, a fellow officer and I, and our flight crew, departed from the infamous air base at Roswell, New Mexico. Our mission was to fly a newly released B-50 aircraft from the Renton Boeing factory back to Roswell. Seattle was the logical destination for a military overnight stay; the Sorrento, the perfect choice to remember Seattle.

The view from the Sorrento’s Top of the Town restaurant was spectacular, you could see the Seattle skyline and the harbor lights. Dining at the hotel’s restaurant, located on the seventh floor, was the perfect ending to a long day. The food was superb and the service allowed for a relaxing evening.

Little did I know that my enjoyment of the classic and elegant Sorrento with a room on the top floor would end too soon. After going to bed at midnight, my next recollection was awakening on the macadam surface of the adjacent alley. I was a flight engineer of sane mind and somehow in my sleepy state, had sleepwalked out a window and plunged 70 feet. My early morning calls for help were answered at 3a.m., and my short but sweet stay at the Sorrento was rerouted to King County General Hospital, not far away.

My injuries were quite serious, including internal damage and broken bones. My wife, pregnant with our third child, arrived on an emergency military flight to stay by my side. That same daughter now makes her home in the Seattle area. After about 2 ½ months of recuperation at King County General and Madigan Army hospital (with a special visit from famed Hollywood actress, Rita Hayworth), I was ready to return to Roswell and my duties as an officer. I recovered from my injuries and continued to serve my country for another 18 years until I retired from active duty.

I have shared this story about my short stay at the Sorrento during my family visits to Seattle. I am now 80 years old and my grandchildren have sat in the hotel lobby listening intently to my adventure.


(1942) Wartime Billet

The Sorrento Hotel will always be special to my husband and me. From December 1941 to June 1942, he lived at the Sorrento while serving in the Army Air Corps Ferrying Command during World War II.

Several others flight crew members (my husband’s army buddies) and he were given the rare opportunity of selecting where they wished to live. They chose the Sorrento to be their living quarters while on duty delivering Boeing B-17 bombers to various air bases around the United States.

The Sorrento Hotel was an important factor in the lives of these flight crew members. They enjoyed the location, the ambiance and the comfort—excellent room service, laundry, three meals a day and special attention while off duty. It was their home away from home. What style for young men on duty during a war!

I met my husband in December 1941 at the USO, which was a few blocks from the hotel. I would meet him before a date in the lobby. He was very proud of his accommodations and invited me up to see his room, which was on the fifth floor.

In June of 1942 he proposed. It was a few weeks before he was transferred to the air base in Great Falls, Montana. We were married in August 1942, fifty-seven years ago.

After the war, we returned to Seattle. In 1983, we moved from Mercer Island and returned to First Hill. It took us forty-two years to make the circle and return to the Sorrento neighborhood. For the past sixteen years, from the windows of our present residence, we are constantly reminded of our courtship. Just gazing at the Sorrento brings back fond memories of fifty-eight years ago when we first met.

The Sorrento is very nostalgic for both of us. To this day, it still has the charm, warmth and comfortable atmosphere of yesteryear.


(1935) A Long and Rewarding Life

In 1935 at the age of twenty I left the flat lands of the middle United States to seek my fortune and improve my lot. I came to Seattle and lived on Belmont Street. On Sunday mornings I would walk from Belmont Street to the Cathedral to direct an appeal to God to help me find a full-time job.

One fine day I did get that full- time job for $80 a month. On the very next Sunday, I treated myself to breakfast in the rooftop dining room at the Sorrento Hotel. For twenty-five cents I had the most wonderful eggs, hash brown potatoes and toast that I have ever eaten in my life! It was the beginning of a long rewarding life of working for a living.