A room at the hotel.

With the area around Astoria constantly growing, it’s hard to keep track of the new hotels and attractions that are worth checking out, and At the Helm Hotel & Waterline Pub in Ilwaco, Washington, is the perfect relaxing getaway to escape the demands of daily life.

At the Helm Hotel & Waterline Pub opened in spring 2019. Owner and operator of the nine room boutique hotel, Marcene Miller, said that there was much hard work that went on behind the scenes to get the dream she never knew she had up and running.

“When I get people in that are really happy with the vibe, the restaurant and their stay, it’s one of my favorite things,” Miller said.

Having a hotel and pub was not Miller’s original dream, or even one of her dreams at all in the first place.


At the Helm Hotel & Waterline Pub in Ilwaco, Washington.

“When I first came to look at this building, which was designed as an eco trust building, I walked in and said ‘this looks like a hotel’ and I just loved the structure of it from the first time I saw it,” Miller said.

The hotel sits right on the waterfront in Ilwaco with views over the Ilwaco fuel dock. With the smell of the salty fresh air and the sounds of fishermen and boat engines in the early morning, it is easy to get lost in the sea breeze and forget the stresses that the world back home has to offer.


The view from At the Helm Hotel. 

There are nine unique and spacious decorated rooms that face the 800-slip marina, that also have a distinctive feature, an alcohol burning fireplace, which really cozies up the room and makes it absolutely perfect for a cold winter night or a late, warm summer evening.

Being cozied up in a complimentary bathrobe with the fire burning and the rain tapping on the windows is the ultimate Pacific Northwest getaway. And At the Helm provides that — and more.

“I was the general contractor on the job, my whole heart and soul, blood sweat and tears are in here. I literally stripped the floors, sanded them, finished them and refinished everything. I oiled, painted and put everything together, I even hired all my own contractors for the bigger stuff,” Miller said.


At the Helm Hotel & Waterline Pub in Ilwaco, Washington.

Each room is uniquely its own and offers a different feel of the Pacific Northwest behind each door. Each room is individually named after boats that Miller and her husband have owned over the years together.

“Commercial fishing is an important thing around here. My husband has commercial fished all his life, 39 years, and he did it with his dad too. Now my oldest son is a commercial fisherman as well. We could do three more rooms with all the boats my husband and I have owned over the years,” Miller said while smiling and leaning back in her chair.

Upon arrival to the hotel, guests receive a complimentary glass of wine or beer from Waterline, the hotel’s pub that serves lunch and dinner daily, and is supplied with all local products as well.

The complimentary beverages can be enjoyed outside overlooking the marina by the warmth of an outside fireplace and the homey feeling of a fuzzy blanket supplied by At the Helm, weather permitting. Or it can just be enjoyed at the bar or at a table in the pub with a view of the marina.


A firepit outside the hotel.

At the Helm was built using only products from local businesses and the majority of the hotel was built with recycled and repurposed materials. Miller said she only uses local businesses for almost everything she does at the hotel and pub, down to the logo which was designed by a local artist.

The beautiful wooden beams that can be seen from the pub and in some of the ground level rooms are a signature staple in the hotel. The beams and the majority of the materials used to remodel the building were repurposed from Bumble Bee Seafoods cannery in Astoria.

Waterline Pub

The waterline pub.

“Every piece of wood in here even the molding around the door, the stairs, the bar and the outside siding is recycled. I was thinking why was this building just sitting here? But because I am a woman in business the bank was willing to work with me, and I knew how to organize, plan and build it,” Miller said.

Miller had a vision and ran with it.


A room at the hotel.

Each room is equipped with eco and reusable friendly features such as a water filter in each room and eco-friendly Nest bath products which are mounted in the showers to utilize as little waste as possible.

At the Helm Hotel sits in the perfect location for ample things to do and peak relaxation. The Discovery Trail leading to Beards Hollow beach at Cape Disappointment State Park is just a short walk from the hotel.

These hiking trails are for all ages and ranges of experience with mostly paved and relatively flat paths to the beach or into Cape Disappointment State Park itself.

Miller said she hopes to get kayaks and bikes for patrons to enjoy this summer as well.

key and cup

A cup and key stand on a windowsill in At the Helm Hotel & Waterline Pub.

But At the Helm is not the only place in Long Beach and Ilwaco to kick back and relax. Adrift Hotel provides perfect beachy views, Tokeland Hotel, the oldest hotel in Washington state, has newly renovated guest suites and new ownership by Heather Earnhardt and her contractor husband, Zac Young. The Sou’wester Historic Lodge and Vintage Trailer Park in Seaview provides a distinctive and comfortable feel for a vacation as well.


A room at the hotel.

The calm ethos of Ilwaco offers hotel guests a quiet stay driving distance from busier locales.

“Ilwaco is a totally different feel than Long Beach, you can still go to Long Beach and Astoria, it’s quiet, peaceful and relaxing. This is somewhere to go if you want to kickback and enjoy your room and enjoy the views,” Miller said.

“I want At the Helm to be a destination for people, a destination for people to escape the city,” Miller said.

Situated close to the water, a walk from some of the best hiking on the coast and a short drive from the main attractions the coast has to offer, At the Helm Hotel is the weekend getaway destination that provides a bounty of relaxation on the coast.

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