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The upscale buildings were once a fuel and oil storage facility at island Inn.jpg
The upscale buildings were once a fuel and oil storage facility at island Inn (Photo: Richard Schmitz)

A stay at Friday Harbor's Island Inn is 'Off the Coast of Ordinary'

An eco-friendly trip to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island begins by leaving the car and walking or biking onto the ferry from Anacortes. It also includes a relaxing stay at Island Inn 123 West, the perfect home base for a weekend, advertised as "Off the Coast of Ordinary."

Perched along the hillside and situated kitty-corner from the ferry landing, Island Inn overlooks the harbor like a sentry standing watch.

Island Inn

The upscale, modern building of this boutique hotel was originally the site of a fuel and oil storage facility for many fishing fleets docking in Friday Harbor and servicing the ferry and cannery industry. The progressively designed structures feature elevated accommodations blending into the hillside with integrated roof decks and ship ladders giving a nod to their seafaring past. In fact, the overall vibe at first glance suggests "industrial," but sink into the comforts inside one of the Inn’s suites or penthouses and go with the slow of island time.

We traveled up for a long weekend while attending the Friday Harbor Film Festival. With the festival spread across four theaters in the center of town, staying at Island Inn positioned us perfectly, allowing for easy, walkable, access to every destination.

MORE: 'Be the change' at the Friday Harbor Film Festival

Upon arriving, Theo our hotel ambassador, not only answered our questions but also carried the overnight bags up the many outdoor stairs to our suite. As we walked up the stairway, he explained the hotel's history and development.

The History

The buildings were first designed for "a swanky mixed-use development project," explains Theo, with units being listed for sale as condominiums before becoming vacation rentals. It was in 2011 when the Inn transformed into what it is today, with its simple elegance and a very green ethos.

Keeping It Green

For starters, they funnel rainwater to a central irrigation tank where it is then used to water the hotel's green spaces and landscaping. Decisions were made during construction to include recycled post-consumer content, helping divert unused materials from being discarded and ultimately ending up in landfills. These features certainly helped them in becoming Silver LEED certified and acknowledging them as a green hotel.

But the eco-consciousness does not stop there, for the Inn takes great care in keeping a light footprint when it comes to island life. One feature I noticed and appreciated right away was the refillable soap and bath dispensers lining the washroom sinks and shower. This a small yet powerful way to decrease single-use items from ending up in the waste bin. Even the selection of their complimentary coffee and granola mix is well-intentioned. Both are island made, drastically reducing the carbon footprint by keeping their resources local.

Small details such as composting and favoring low-flow commodes designate them as green as it gets.

Even awarded them the "Travelers Choice Best of the Best 2022" award. For stunning views, simple and sophisticated style, as well as sustainability, it is all here at Island Inn 123 West.

Have an extraordinary time "Off the Coast of Ordinary."

MaryRose Denton is a freelance writer for Seattle Refined. While the products, services and/or accommodations in this story were provided without charge, the opinions within are those of the author and the Seattle Refined editorial board.