Palo Alto, CA– Home to many of California’s largest and most recognizable names in the world of technology, Palo Alto is fast becoming a key destination for movers and shakers who are keen to get in on the action. Facebook and Skype have joined Stanford University in the quaint Northern California hamlet that is known as a tiny enclave for Silicon Valley’s tech titans. In recent years, the leafy suburban area has earned a newfound reputation among the affluent as a place to kick-back and spend a luxurious weekend away from the hustle and bustle of San Francisco. Palo Alto can now proudly claim both the modern business traveler and the well-heeled, leisure traveler.
We recently found ourselves in Palo Alto en route to a wedding in Napa, in an attempt to live like a tech tian for a mere 24 hours. Our search for one day of uninterrupted leisure and pampering led us to one of the town’s newest options for luxury accommodations, The Clement Hotel. From the time we arrived and were promptly greeted by Zach, our personal concierge, we knew that the bar for a new standard of personalized luxury accommodations had been set. Our one-bedroom suite seamlessly merged all of the understated modern comforts and opulent lifestyle amenities one might expect from a 6-star hotel, including 65” Samsung IPTVs, Matouk linens, Frette towels and robes, and our personal favorite, bath amenities by 80 Acre.
With full-service attention and concierge services at the lift of a finger, one could easily remain blissfully ensconced in their suite from arrival to departure. However, in a space as thoughtfully designed as The Clement, even the common areas of this beautiful hotel were welcoming enough to entice us from our suite. We wanted to gain a feel for a communal experience that one typically has in a hotel, albeit a luxurious one. The well-appointed ground floor living room designed by Stanford Hughes (of the award-winning San Francisco hotel design firm Brayton Hughes), is the perfect place to relax with a cocktail or glass of your favorite wine. In keeping with California customs, an autumn evening by the outdoor fire pit or poolside in a private cabana on the roof-top deck overlooking the verdant Stanford campus is also an option.
With so little time to experience Palo Alto, we resisted the temptation to stay within the perfectly luxurious confines of The Clement Hotel and decided to spend a night out on the town. At our concierge’s suggestion, we headed to Zola, an exciting new downtown Palo Alto eatery specializing in curated seasonal fare from the surrounding region. Helmed by Head Chef and founder, Guillaume Bienaime, Zola’s menu reflects Bienaime’s French and Californian roots. Steeped in the culinary traditions of France, each dish is underscored with flavor profiles and ingredients that are decidedly Northern Californian. Zola’s well-versed staff led us through their expertly-edited wine list and suggested French wine parings, such as a 2012 Loire Valley Pouilly-Fumé, that allowed us to fully experience the most subtle and pronounced aspects of each dish. The evening’s standouts included a starter of their signature ricotta gnocchi, which was folded table side with a local Apple Tree Farms slow egg, mushrooms, brown butter and green onions. Followed by a main course of Flounder Beurre Blanc, which was served on a bed of fingerling potatoes, artichokes, lilliput capers, and fine herbs.
Alas, one can not thrive on elegant accommodations and fine dining alone. Fortunately, Palo Alto is a fashion mecca for Silicon Valley’s style-oriented set, if such a thing exists. Just a stones throw away from The Clement and downtown Palo Alto is the Stanford Shopping Center, an open-air shopping destination reminiscent of a botanical garden, directly adjacent to the Stanford University Campus. The newly-redesigned mall has recently undergone a two-year renovation and now features 45 new stores and restaurants.
Like all good things, our 24 hours in Palo Alto had to come to an end. Feeling wined, dined and fashionably rejuvenated, we left Palo Alto with a newfound appreciation for why so many people from around the world have chosen to call this town home.