News blog for Seattle's Fremont neighborhood


The Dubliner’s Transition is Complete: Welcome to Hotel Hotel

March 5th, 2015 by master

The 3500 block of Fremont Ave N, just north of the Center of the Universe, is a popular stretch with food and shopping options for all tastes. On the west side in one of Fremont’s historic buildings Frame Up, Pie, Bluebird Ice Cream, and the former Dubliner Pub sit side by side with large welcoming windows. What many residents and visitors alike may not realize is that upstairs is the Hotel Hotel Hostel, recognized as one of the top boutique hostels in the world.

When The Dubliner, an Irish pub located just downstairs, came up for sale the owners of Hotel Hotel Hostel saw an opportunity to expand their offerings for both travelers and the Fremont neighborhood. They purchased the bar and began modifying the space earlier this year culminating in a name-change to “Hotel Hotel” last week.

Over the past four years the Hotel Hotel Hostel has quietly welcoming scores of international and domestic travelers to quality minimalist yet funky accommodations through a mirror-encrusted doorway between Bluebird Ice Cream and The Dubliner. Offering both private rooms with private bathrooms and traditional dorm style hostel rooms, Hotel Hotel Hostel fulfills all parts of it’s name. Family rooms with a king bed for parents and a bunk bed for children are also available.


Owners Lee Kindell and his wife Nancy Gambin also own and operate the art-themed City Hostel Seattle in Belltown. Both hostels offer a range of accommodations and boast rooftop gardens and beehives. There are even some chickens who call the City Hostel roof home. Lee and Nancy are dedicated to their vision of a fluid hostel community. Through their combined efforts and experience both hostels have become cornerstones in Seattle’s intimate hostel scene.

Both avid travelers, Lee and Nancy first met at a hostel in Austin, Texas during Halloween. After Nancy returned to Toronto and Lee to Seattle they remained in touch and eventually settled in Seattle. They opened their first hostel together in Ballard about 8 years ago.

“It was our whole life!” Lee commented.

Smaller than Hotel Hotel, guests were treated as friends with personal tours, rides from the airport, and backyard BBQs. Lee and Nancy even lived in an upstairs unit for a time. Although they received a lot of praise from guests and enjoyed sharing Seattle so personally, Lee and Nancy aspired to expand their business. They left Ballard and established City Hostel Seattle in a historic hotel building. When the opportunity to take over a space in Fremont came up, Lee says he lept at the chance to return to North Seattle.

Lee has been spending an extensive amount of time in Fremont over the last few months. Just as when he renovated the Hotel Hotel space upstairs, he has been working hard on every detail for turning the Dubliner into what he hopes will be a neighborhood bar with a “living room feel.”

The interior changed subtly at first; brown tables became black, posters and signs promoting various alcohols slimmed down, and several walls were painted. More noticeably, the windows are now filled with cut wood, for the new wood fired pizza oven, and just recently new signage appeared for “Hotel Hotel” and “Authentic Detroit Pizza.”

New signage at the former Dubliner

Overall the space is more minimalist, similar to the hostel upstairs but with sharp attention to detail. Each table has a number (1, 2, 3, etc.) painted on in varying styles, for fun and food service. The raised area where two dart boards hung is being converted into a casual stage. Given the pace that Lee works it may already be complete by the time you read this.

While Lee and Nancy are “attached at the hip” when it comes to the hostels, the transformation of the Dubliner has become Lee’s project and vision. He is excited to offer a food and beverage option for hostel guests in addition to increasing Hotel Hotel’s presence in the Fremont community.

I recently sat with Lee at table number 1 (a block number filled with an intricate floral design) and already you could see his vision becoming a reality, a comfortable space for travelers and locals. About ten customers were seated through the bar enjoy beverages and slices. Lee had already introduced himself and spoken to each one of them.

“See there,” he said, pointing back towards the bar “those two young men are Australians staying at the hostel. The table next to them are architects from across the street!”

The architects were sampling Lee’s latest project; pizza from the new wood fired oven, and sounded very excited about their slices. The Hotel Hotel bar began offering pizza just this past Monday, March 2nd. A pint of Rainier and slice of pizza is now available for $5.

Pizzas are prepared in a wood fired oven

With experience in corporate restaurants Lee feels very comfortable taking on food service, now it’s just a matter of fine tuning the menu. In addition to traditional margarita and pepperoni pizza, other toppings include arugula and a not-too-hot sriracha sausage. Lee plans to add salads and appetizers down the road and to incorporate honey from the rooftop beehives into the menu. The intention is to keep it simple at first and ensure each addition meets Lee’s high quality and service standards.

The bar will follow a similar approach with evening events. Wednesday night’s popular Geeks Who Drink trivia will remain to the delight of it’s following. A proponent of live acoustic shows, Lee will begin to introduce live music on the updated vaudeville-like stage, most likely on Sunday evenings. This also ties in with the hostel’s “Stay and Play” program where musicians can trade accommodation for performances enjoyed by other guests and now, the Fremont community.

Toward’s the end of our conversation, Lee hops up and excuses himself to welcome two new customers. Two women with bike helmets in hand, inquired if the bar served food or just drinks. In his dusty long black apron Lee excitedly nodded and explained pizza was now available. He introduce himself and offered them a seat.

While the women settled down for a pint and presumably some pizza, Lee prepared to head back to the kitchen and keep fine-tuning his new operation. His energy and excitement seemed to soar as he shared one final thought about the reinvented bar: “The hostel is more of a global place, here we can be a real integral part of the community.”

Customers fill the new Hotel Hotel bar, formerly the Dubliner New pizza offerings at Hotel Hotel

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Hotel Hotel Grand Opening Party Pictures

July 15th, 2011 by master

Fremont’s new upscale hostel, Hotel Hotel, hosted its grand opening party last night as it officially opens for business today. Tons of folks stopped by to check out the fancy, new digs. It was great to see so many of the area businesses involved as well. Pie was serving mini-pies, Flying Apron was serving food as well and Bluebird Ice Cream was out front with their cart.

(Incidentally I spoke with the Bluebird folks and they’re looking at an early-August opening right now).

Check out some photos from the event, which included circus performers, a DJ and a dude wearing a giraffe head for some reason. Then again, when do you ever need a reason to wear a giraffe head?

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Hotel Hotel To Open It’s Doors Doors On Friday Friday, Grand Opening Party Tonight

July 14th, 2011 by master

Fremonsters have been watching the space above Pie, Dubliner and Frame Up Studios with great anticipation ever since it was announced that an upscale hostel was going in. Construction has been ongoing for a while now but Hotel Hotel (3515 Fremont Ave. N.) will officially open its doors to the people of Fremont, or more likely the people who want to visit Fremont, this Friday.

As you can see, they’re still putting the finishing touches on the place but things will be good to go come tomorrow.

According to the website, rates are $28/night for a single bed in a shared room, $79/night for a King bed with a shared bathroom and $99/night for a Family Room with private bathroom or King bed with private bathroom.

The hostel also rents bicycles ($10 for 3 hours, $20 for the day) and sells cameras for out-of-towners who want their very own photo of the Troll.

Hotel Hotel will be kicking things off with an opening party tonight between 6-9pm featuring “circus performers, music, beverages, snacks and more.”

For more information, check out the contact page on their website.

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Bluebird Bringing Locally-Sourced, Artisan Ice Cream To Fremont

June 30th, 2011 by master

As you know, Bluebird Ice Cream is coming to Fremont. We had a chance to speak with owner Josh Kessler-Reynolds about the store, how they plan to work with other Fremont businesses and what kind of yummy goodness we can expect.

Why did you choose Fremont for your 2nd shop?

Fremont is the Center of the Universe, right? Apart from that, it’s just such a dynamic neighborhood. I can tell you that when friends and family visit, my girlfriend and I always include an afternoon in Fremont as one of the stops. The neighborhood just seems to offer a lot. From a more specific business perspective, the new neighbors [Hotel Hotel, Pie, Dubliner, etc.]…provide a fantastic compliments to Bluebird Ice Cream.

On the kind on ingredients Bluebird uses...

For those unfamiliar with Bluebird: it’s small batch, locally-sourced, artisan ice cream. We strive to make all of our flavors the-best-you’ve-ever-had: If you try a sample, you’ll want a full scoop. We source locally, taking advantage of our natural surroundings (like fruit from Remlinger Farms) as well as the wealth of like-minded artisan food makers in Seattle (Elysian Stout ice cream, anyone?) It’s ice cream made from local dairy, with all-natural and organic ingredients.

Along with Theo, who provides Bluebird with their chocolate, what other Fremont businesses do you plan to work with?

We love Theo. There are more special collaborations in the works between us. Pie and Ice Cream is an obvious match, so I would hope for some exciting things to happen between our two businesses. We’ve done some stuff with Homegrown, and I consider those guys to be great colleagues of mine. I hope for further collaboration and cross promotion in the future. Caffe Vita just up the street will be collaborating with us, and next door to that Bluebird Ice Cream will soon be available at all Via Tribunali locations. When we have our grand opening (Aug 1st? No promises.) We’ve already been discussing with the Pie girls and the guys at the Hotel Hotel hostel upstairs about hosting some kind of block party, along with the Dubliner, so keep your eyes out for that. I’d encourage anyone who has a place that they want to serve Bluebird ice cream to send an email ( and we’d love to supply your favorite restaurant, market, or grocery store.

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Dad Watson’s Leaving Fremont, Relocating To U-District

June 1st, 2011 by master

On June 18, after you’ve taken in all the many sights and sounds (but mostly sights) of the Solstice Parade, you might want to head over to Dad Watson’s for a drink. Because it’s going to be your last chance to do so in Fremont.

The McMenimans-owned pub is closing up shop June 18th and heading to a new location in the University District. According to one employee I spoke with, their lease in the current spot expired and they’ll begin the process of moving cross-town, though they won’t be opening in their new location for a little while.

The pub will be hosting an employees-only closing party before the final day but no other celebrations have been planned.

The area around Fremont Ave. & 36th continues to evolve. With the new hostel moving in across the street, expect more changes to hit the area. We’ll have to see how well it all pans out for retailers, restaurants, building owners and especially Fremonsters.

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It’s About To Get A Little Hostel Around Fremont

December 10th, 2010 by master

Tons of out-of-towners, shoppers and tourists come to Fremont every year to check out our wares. They stay a while but eventually they have to leave for other parts of town when they want to bunk down for the night (unless you’re renting out your sofa). That might be about to change as an application was recently filed to turn the 23-apartment complex at 3515 Fremont Ave. into an upscale hostel.

The apartments above the Dubliner, Frame Up and the soon-to-be-open Pie are the ones in question. Currently in use as short-term apartments, the building owners are not renewing leases and only a handful of tenants still remain. Once they have moved out and, assuming the Department of Neighborhoods approves the application, the hostel will move in. Residents received notice about the building’s sale back in May.

The folks behind the Fremont hostel project are the same ones behind the extremely-popular City Hostel Seattle in Belltown. Hostel owner Lee Kindell and Gibraltar Capital are hoping to bring the same kind of inexpensive, stylish and fun environment to Fremont. Boxwood is handling the design planning.

Plans call for a bed and breakfast-style, 23-room, upscale hostel with shared bathrooms. Along with enticing people to stay in Fremont, it will also act as an overflow for the Belltown location, which is often booked up.

Expectations are to have the place open in the Spring or Summer but no later than Fall 2011.

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