Let’s face it — we don’t have a lot of time to do as many hotel reviews in San Francisco and the Bay Area as we’d like, largely because when I’m not on the road, I tend to hibernate, hunker down, do errands and get work done. When we learned about a five star property in Palo Alto with an entirely different approach, we had to take a look. After all, it was located in the heart of downtown, next to University Avenue, so close to trendy shops, restaurants and coffee bars. Also a stone’s throw from prestigious Stanford University, The Clement Palo Alto is all about privacy and customization with a luxury personalized touch being their raison d’etre. You might be curious at this juncture what they do a little differently. Join me on a 24 hour journey where we experienced the property and its on-site meals, all of which were customized just for us.
Above, I am relaxing in their hot tub, which is immediately adjacent to their heated pool, a godsend on a mid-January day.
The day before we were slated to head down, I received an email from one of their personalized concierges, which is one of the core ingredients of the Clement and what makes it so special. The email wasn’t just to welcome me to the hotel a day early, but requesting me to fill out a personalized questionnaire of my likes, dislikes and personal needs. It was a bit more granular and detailed than the typical questionnaire; sure, it wanted to know if I had any food allergies, but also was after how I live my life at home. In other words, what kinds of teas and coffees did I like? How did I take it? What foods do I typically eat and not eat? Is there anything I wished to have my suite stocked with, from hard liquor and beer to soft drinks, chocolates and other snacks. Curious about all of it, I added more items to the list just to get an idea what it might be like if I were showing up with a family in tow or on business.
The hotel itself is on a busy street just off University, so there’s no traditional bellman to greet you when you pull your car up, however a personalized concierge is not far away. Through the glass doors, personal concierge Amanda spotted us and came out to greet us with a luggage cart behind her, after which a bellman took our bags to our suite. All of the rooms are suites in this customized just for you chic property with a decor that is about as modern as it gets.
The hardwood floors are oh so lovely and heated in the bathroom as is the toilet seat. It’s one of those super techie toilets that I found at so many hotel rooms and restaurants in Japan — this one even offered the ability to customize your flush and save it with an option to have a second preference on the remote control as well. The seat lit up in a neon blue when I used it in the middle of the night, something that threw me at first, as if I had been thrown from dreamland into a future Star Trek movie of sorts. The shower and tub are separate (always a nice feature) and the tub was deep and big enough for a luxurious bubble bath for two.
Fresh flowers are everywhere throughout the property, including in the downstairs lounge which is connected to both the dining room and the open style kitchen. The property has only been around since 2015 and the all inclusive personalized hotel is pretty intimate with only 23 suites on site on four floors. The second floor houses the small but efficient gym whereas the first floor is where you can relax in the public seating area which also has a marble fireplace.
Its part of Pacific Hotel Management, which specializes in the development and management of high quality hotels using a variety of franchise brands and its president Clement Chen III is not a newcomer to understanding hospitality. In addition to the newly added Clement Hotel Palo Alto and Clement Hotel Monterey which we haven’t seen yet with 208 rooms, there are a number of hotel brands you’ll quickly recognize under its umbrella, including the InterContinental, the Westin Palo Alto, the Sheraton Palo Alto, Four Points by Sheraton in Emeryville, the Courtyard by Marriott in Richmond, the Residence Inn by Marriott in Milpitas, and the Homewood Suites by Hilton in Newark.
Below, the outdoor patio joins to the inside cozier lounge, which is where we hung our hat on this latest trip given the cooler winter temperatures.
The Deck and Pool are on the top floor so there’s views of the surrounding area and as noted above, the pool is heated and there’s a jacuzzi next to it.
The open door kitchen is oh so fabulous and open to guests 24/7, whether you want fresh juice or organic ice cream from the fridge and freezer or a mid-night snack, from chips and pastries to yogurt and fresh fruit.
We chatted with Chef Phillip Pagan who was there every time I ventured down the kitchen, always eager to whip something up for us. Personal concierge Amanda insisted we try his crab cakes and so we did — oh so delish! Be sure to tell him Renee and Anthony said hello and if you’re an Instagrammer, he’s @ppagan55. We love following new chefs we meet, especially more relevant now that I am getting obsessed with our new food only account @LuxuryFoodies even though I remain more prolific on @weblogtheworld.
Look at those decadent specialty oils on the shelf – yum!
Speaking of yum, breakfast is a joy here, with plenty of choices, one or more of which will cater to your preferences and dietary needs, from fresh fruit and pastries to protein heavy options for low/no carb and Paleo diets to as traditional as it gets, with omelettes, waffles and bacon.
On the counter for grabbing anytime of day, so sweet lovers will appreciate these homemade treats.
As you move into the evening hours, you’ll obviously want to try their on-the-premise dinner since their concept is all inclusive after all. A favorite cocktail on their menu is their Stormy Weather, which is made with Appleton Rum, lime juice, simply syrup, Ginger beer, bitters and mint. Red and wine wine selections are there for the taking for vino lovers as are small plates if you want to have a pre-dinner snack, including olives, mixed nuts, nachos and a cheese and charcuterie plate.
If you prefer to make a cocktail in your room, they’ve got you covered as well.
On the lunch and dinner menu, our favorite appetizers included the Foie Gras Torchon with Stevia leaves, fig puree and toasted brioche bread, the Lamb Tartare with mint, garlic, and Dijon mustard and the traditional onion soup made topped with delicious Gruyere.
In addition to traditional Reuben sandwiches, a classic Clement Burger or the opportunity to build your own sandwich, healthy and light mains include a Pan Seared Salmon with potato gratin and market greens, white fish with Bok Choy served with sauteed greens, an organic chicken breast stuffed with red bell peppers. Meat lovers will appreciate the Rib Eye on the menu with a variety of sides and their Roasted Rack of Lamb with a pomegranate juice reduction, creamy potato Gratin and sauteed Swiss Chard – oh so yum! They’ve got pasta lovers covered as well with a Fresh Fig and Gorgonzola Handmade Ravioli with Rosemary-Sage Brown Butter, Fried Sage and Crispy Prosciutto.
The organic Caesar Slad was also scrumptious and you can add salmon, chicken and shrimp as well, which makes a great option for lunch or as a light starter if you go for a heavier meal.
Chocolate covered strawberries anyone? They were available for the tasting in their 24/7 fridge in case you wanted a nibble during a late night movie.
Desserts included Chocolate Molten Lava Cake with Vanilla Bean Tin Pot ice cream, Nothing Bundt cakes in a variety of flavors and apple pie with ice cream. Inside that 24/7 fridge I mentioned, they offer Tin Pot organic ice cream in a number of flavors and fresh fruit plates.
If you want a place that will always remember your name and takes your personal preferences seriously, the Clement Hotel is your kinda property. There’s also fine touches like remote control curtains, valet parking, an outdoor terrace fire pit, audio visual equipment, a meeting room and white board which makes it a great option if traveling on business and adjoining rooms, which is perfect for families.
As for my favorite fine touch? It’s hard to say but I’d say the personal chef is right up there as is the heated bathroom floors. And, I even received a handwritten note from the President with his cell phone included, a business card and personalized stationary with my name on it, all wrapped in a lovely bow with a beautiful wooden pen. I’d call that not just an elegant fine touch, but perfection. Bravo!!!
The Clement Hotel Palo Alto
711 El Camino Real
Palo Alto, CA 94301
Note: we were hosted by the Clement by all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.