Elevate your Bellevue getaway with chic shopping, dining & amenities

Cocooned between the foothills of the Cascades and the fresh waters of Lake Washington, Bellevue has made a name for itself as an elegant outpost of the Pacific Northwest, offering comfort and luxury that’s otherwise hard to find in the wilds of Washington state.

Early fall in the Pacific Northwest is a not-so-hidden secret these days. The cloudy skies that give the Puget Sound its misty reputation clear to bathe mountains, water, and people in sunny warmth. The area’s fashion mavens put away dark rain slickers to show off glitter and style for Fashion Week. This is the time to be in Bellevue, and my girlfriends and I had been planning our weekend shopping trip for months.

I made the trek across Lake Washington’s floating bridges with my old friends Lauren and Jess one late-September weekend. It had been a long week for each of us, and we were itching to get away, reconnect, and refresh our spirits—as well as our closets—in the way only Bellevue can deliver.

We checked in early to The Westin Bellevue in the city’s downtown core of tall glass skyscrapers and walkable attractions. The Westin’s proximity to Bellevue Square, just across the street via a covered walking bridge, made it the perfect home base for our weekend of pampering. The hotel’s gorgeous blue-tiled pool and serene rooms with views of the city and lake would help us unwind from the stressors of our 9-to-5 jobs. But first, we planned to exhaust some of that day-to-day tension with a full Saturday of shopping and dining among the city’s celebrated shops and restaurants.

After dropping off our luggage, we started with lunch in the dark, cozy plush seating of John Howie Steak, a beloved local steakhouse offering custom-aged steaks and that famous Northwest salmon in an elegant but comfortable dining space. Due to the restaurant’s popularity with locals, we made sure to secure a reservation, and we weren’t disappointed. At the recommendation of our server, we munched on Steak Frites: red-wine-marinated Snake River Farms’ American Wagyu hanger steaks, crispy fries, and fresh green salads. We sipped on glasses of Washington state wines as we caught up and planned our shopping itinerary. 

Our first stops were just a few steps away at The Shops at The Bravern, which hosts John Howie Steak. As we browsed the latest styles from fashion’s top designers, Lauren and Jess snagged several new jackets and sweaters for fall wardrobe updates.

With our carefully wrapped purchases in hand, we wandered through the outdoor shopping center’s white-tiled corridors, lush fountains, and opulent greenery and into Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo, and Gucci. Before leaving the shops, I treated myself to a silky pop of color at Hermès Paris.

Next on our agenda were visits to Bur-berry, Tory Burch, and Michael Kors at Bellevue Square, just a short walk through Bellevue’s gleaming downtown. with Fashion Week in full swing, The Bellevue Collection—a trio of high-end shopping, dining, and entertainment plazas, including Bellevue Square, Bellevue Place, and Lincoln Square—was packed, with exclusive parties at various shops and models jetting down the runway at the nearby Hyatt Regency Bellevue. We dropped off our shopping bags with the concierge at The Westin, who graciously sent them up to our rooms before we continued on our journey.

Energized by all the bustle, and at the recommendation of the hotel staff, we then headed straight for STORY at Macy’s, a narrative-driven retail showcase, where we explored curated products of up-and-coming brands in the comfort of Macy’s familiar space. The STORY changes every few months, featuring local products and events around a single theme: wellness, color, holidays, and more. I took the opportunity to start my Christmas shopping early, picking up a few made-in-Bellevue stocking stuffers for family and loved ones.

At the suggestion of some friendly fellow shoppers, Lauren, Jess, and I picked up last-minute tickets to Fashion Week’s Posh Party Trend Show for a girls’ night out celebrating the best in fall fashion and top new beauty trends. But before meeting our newly made friends there, we took a few minutes to enjoy the quiet together with dinner and cocktails.

An early reservation at The Lakehouse, a contemporary farm-to-table kitchen at the W Bellevue hotel in Lincoln Square, let us relax in a homey but open and modern space. Lauren, Jess, and I chose to mix and match from the late-summer menu of creamy corn chowder, cod with sautéed vegetables, and local farmers market cheeses and fruits.

We headed back to our hotel rooms for a quick refresh before grabbing pre-party drinks at Civility & Unrest, a cocktail lounge we had spotted hidden just below The Lakehouse. With lighting reminiscent of the Pacific Northwest night sky and a speakeasy-inspired menu, the space offered a perfect transition from day into night as we enjoyed craft cocktails from the whiskey bar in a dark but lively setting.

The next morning, after our packed day, the girls and I were ready to finish our weekend in true luxury: We booked a Sunday wellness retreat at The Westin Bellevue, Truce Spa. After a dip in that blue-tiled pool, we gathered our robes and headed to the spa to be pampered with essential-oil massages and organic facial treatments in a space framed by natural woods and flickering candles.

Sitting together in the spa’s infrared sauna, we promised ourselves it wouldn’t take us so long to get back together again. With the amenities Bellevue had to offer, we figured this luxurious weekend was a tradition in the making. After all, Fashion Week is every September.