The Lodge at St. Edward State Park is a unique property tucked away in the heart of a state park on the shores of Lake Washington. The surrounding 326-acre forest provides a peaceful oasis from the hustle and bustle of nearby Washington cities. This historic landmark now contains 84 guestrooms and suites, restaurants, bars, a spa, and hiking and biking trails right outside the door.
The former Catholic seminary has been lovingly restored and repurposed into a luxury hotel. The interior design of the hotel is respectful of its historical past. Former dorm rooms were joined to become larger hotel rooms with restored original windows and doors. Vintage touches, such as a modern take on a rotary style phone and curated wallpaper with architectural drawings of the building, add to the classic design of the building.
I was hosted on a press trip by The Lodge at St. Edward State Park to learn about this new property. Here are the reasons why you need to visit:
The Lodge at St. Edward State Park is so conveniently located. It is just six miles from Kirkland with its charming downtown waterfront. Woodinville has more than 115 wineries and is close enough you can bike, Uber, or have a wine tour pick you up at the hotel. Bellevue with its upscale shopping is a short drive away. In 25 minutes, you can be in downtown Seattle riding to the top of the Space Needle. Most likely, though, you won’t want to venture off the property that is surrounded by Saint Edward State Park.
The Pacific Northwest has a bounty of culinary delights. Fresh local seafood, farm-to-table produce, artisans producing handcrafted cheeses, gastronomic syrups, and just about anything you can think of pickled is combined with the cultural influences of the melting pot that makes up Washington. Cedar + Elm, the onsite restaurant, serves the epitome of Pacific Northwest cuisine and is the centerpiece of the lodge’s culinary program. Executive Chef Jason Wilson, a James Beard Award-winner, crafts a unique menu that changes weekly to reflect fresh ingredients for the season. The culinary team has developed relationships with local farms and small growers and sources ingredients from the onsite Chef’s Garden and an apiary, which is a collection of beehives.
The restaurant space once served as the Saint Edward Seminary dining hall. It is a lovely, light-filled space, and the new design highlights some of the original features such as the lighting. The arched windows allow views of the surrounding state park. The seasonal outdoor terrace is the perfect place to enjoy an alfresco lunch or early evening cocktails and appetizers.
Because I was on a press trip, I was able to try a variety of things on the menu, and I have to say my meal was incredible. (Check out my Instagram reels to see everything I tried.) The food here is divine. I recommend just sticking with the shareables, especially if you are dining with someone else, so you can try a variety because it really is difficult to choose. The hearth-roasted Del Pacifico Blue Prawns & Grits served with garden succotash salad with peri peri spice, (a flavorful mix of spices including cayenne pepper), is Chef Wilson’s take on shrimp and grits.
I’m a Southern gal and grew up eating this dish, and I have to say he mastered it. The grits were perfectly cooked, and the fresh salad elevated this shareable plate. I was glad I did not have to share it with anyone. The Crisp Fritters of Alaskan Halibut with Dungeness crab and potato are served with a lemon dill and caper remoulade. This dish is very filling and more than enough to share. I also loved the marinated artichoke dish and the roasted carrots. Usually, I don’t really get too excited about vegetables, but these appetizers were so good it felt like a treat versus something you have to eat to get dessert.
The wait staff is well trained and knowledgeable about the menu and recommending wine pairings. One of the things I love about going to a new restaurant is the staff receives much more intensive training, which includes opportunities to taste the food and wine tastings as well. My server Carrie was outstanding. She made excellent recommendations for wine pairings that were spot on. Even with multiple tables, she was able to give each guest the individual service you expect in a restaurant of this caliber.
The hotel has two bars. The Father Mulligan’s Heritage Bar is located next to the restaurant and is named after the Seminary’s first president. All your favorites plus craft cocktails made from seasonal ingredients are available. It also has its own food menu, including charcuteries, burgers, and wood-fired flatbreads. The Tonsorium Bar was once the barbershop and has a speakeasy vibe. Enjoy live music and after-hours cocktails, beer, and wine. There is also food available. Currently, there is live music on Thursdays, but check the calendar for a rotating lineup of local musicians.
The lodge is the perfect property to get away and relax. Start with a visit to the Vita Nova Spa. As you enter the spa, cast in stone above the doorway is Pax intrantibus, salus exeuntibus, which translates from Latin to “Peace to those who enter, good health to those who depart.” That is what you will find with a visit to this spa, which promotes the restorative power of nature with organic herbal infusions and pure products. The spa menu is seasonal, and the treatments reflect that. Features include massage, body treatments, facials, an infrared sauna, and both indoor and outdoor relaxation spaces. As part of its wellness program, Vita Nova Spa invites holistic practitioners from all over to offer specialty treatments and services not usually available at the spa.
With the surrounding 326-acre forest, take some time to get outside and enjoy some forest bathing. The practice originated in Japan and is gaining popularity in the Pacific Northwest due to our amazing forests. It is basically a form of mobile meditation where you use all your senses, immersing yourself in the sights, sounds, and smells of the forest. It has a variety of health benefits.
Gallery Of Fine Arts
The lodge has its own art gallery. The grand hallway serves as a venue to celebrate local art and artists, which are all from the Pacific Northwest. Stroll the gallery and enjoy the artwork, some of which was inspired by Saint Edward State Park. For generations, the beauty of this natural site has drawn artists from around the area. Artwork is available for purchase. Later, (COVID dependent) the lodge will host an Artist in Residence each quarter who will offer private and public lessons while also creating art inspired by the historical and natural setting.
Pro Tip: As you wander throughout the property, you find QR codes. Use your cell phone to scan them, and they will link you to a photo gallery, video, or history lesson that tells the story of the space you are standing in. It is fascinating to learn the saga of this iconic property.
The Lodge at St. Edward State Park has done its utmost to ensure the property is accessible. It begins with the website which follows World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Level AA (“WCAG 2.0 AA”). There is plenty of handicapped parking, and accessible vehicles can be accommodated. Public spaces have features such as Braille and tactile signage, wheelchair-accessible entrances and corridors, and closed captioning on publicly viewed televisions. The restaurant offers menus with large print. Visit the website for more information on all the accessible features.
In addition to being a great place to stay, The Lodge at St. Edward State Park makes a perfect day trip from Seattle and surrounding towns. Spend the morning hiking the trails at Saint Edward State Park and then enjoy lunch on the outdoor terrace if weather permits. In the afternoon, experience a wellness treatment at the spa before heading home.