Bellingham, Washington has nearly 100,000 residents but is cozy and inviting like a small town. That is, if you know where to stay and where to go when you visit. For the most enjoyable experience, unpack your bags somewhere near downtown, where you can experience the best this bayside burg has to offer.

Hotel Bellwether is a luxury-focused hotel located just minutes from the recently revitalized downtown corridor, which invites you to skip the big-box stores and shopping malls in favor of strolling easily between boutiques, galleries, restaurants, bars, breweries and more. Speaking of breweries, Bellingham is currently home to seven breweries and has gained a reputation as a regional beer destination.

Known for providing guests with comfortable, well-appointed accommodations, the Hotel Bellwether offers the kind of service reminiscent of a European boutique hotel. Zazen Salon Spa offers massages and a full line of spa services if you need pampering, and the hotel’s fitness room welcomes you if you need to break a sweat. Other amenities include jetted tubs, in-room coffee service, oversized pillows, lavish linens, free Wi-Fi, onsite laundry, dry cleaning, secured parking and more.

Guests have their choice of a few different lodging options, from basic rooms to spacious suites with balconies and waterfront views. The most indulgent option is the Lighthouse Suite, which is located in a freestanding lighthouse on the property. Dogs and children are not allowed in the Lighthouse Suite but are otherwise welcome at Bellwether Hotel.

Location is perhaps the hotel’s greatest asset. Situated at the tip of a small peninsula next to the Bellingham Marina, you can stroll the park-like grounds surrounding the hotel and watch the boats come and go. If you need to stretch your legs more than that, the pathways connect to miles of bayside trails. Hotel Bellwether even has a private 220-foot dock accessible by boat or seaplane.

The Lighthouse Bar and Grill, located at Hotel Bellwether, offers cocktails, wine, beer and a seafood-focused food menu. The draft beer list is heavy on locally brewed beer from the many nearby breweries. The happy hour is particularly noteworthy and is popular with the locals, especially during the warmer months when bayside patio seating is highly coveted. Happy hour runs from 3-6:30 p.m. daily and all day on Sunday. Don’t miss the salmon sliders. Enjoy a cocktail on the patio and witness a spectacular sunset over the San Juan Islands, then settle in around the fire pit and while away the evening hours.

Bellwether Hotel’s setting on the waterfront, next to the marina with magnificent views of the San Juan Islands and Bellingham Bay, invites you to hunker down and forget about the rest of town, but downtown Bellingham is just a mile away­­—an easy stroll or an affordable taxi or Uber ride.