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“Great alternative to big hotel” 4 of 5 stars
Review of The Zen Hotel

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The Zen Hotel
2.5 of 5 Boutique Hotel   |   4164 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94306   |  
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Ranked #5 of 26 Hotels in Palo Alto
Northbrook, Illinois
Senior Contributor
33 reviews 33 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
“Great alternative to big hotel”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 31, 2012

Check in was great . I got there at noon and they had a room for me. My room was made up with care and had a back door to a running water fountain for ambience. Breakfast was free and was different each day. The location is 2 miles from campus an easy drive to California open space hiking trail and plenty of restaurants. Good choice as an alternative to big chain hotels. I would stay here again.

Room Tip: Ask for the 1st or 2nd floor with the fountain in the back
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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166 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (47)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
San Francisco, California
Top Contributor
50 reviews 50 reviews
47 hotel reviews
Reviews in 36 cities Reviews in 36 cities
117 helpful votes 117 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 28, 2012

I was put in charge of selecting and booking a hotel in Palo Alto for a company trip. We had a strict budget, but also wanted someplace that would be updated, comfortable and convenient. After reading and comparing reviews of pretty much every hotel in the area, I decided to take a chance on The Zen Hotel. It turned out to be a great decision, and my entire team was really happy with our stay here.

I worked with Ricardo to arrange the group booking. He deserves special recognition for getting our group booked, dealing with several rooming changes and last minute credit card confusion. He was unfailingly helpful and polite, a real asset to this hotel.

The Zen Hotel has free parking, free wifi and free breakfast. Very cost effective, and a big plus for our group. The breakfast was pretty tasty, too! Cold cereal, oatmeal, various hot dishes (eggs, bacon, etc.), pastries, coffee and juice. Definitely a nice way to start the day. From Zen Hotel to downtown Palo Alto (University Ave) never took more than 10 minutes in the morning, which was very convenient. The staff at the front desk were really nice and helped our team with all manner of requests. There is a Walgreens directly across the street for any needed snack or supply runs.

I was booked into a room right at the corner of El Camino and Maybell, and the first night I was woken a couple of times by larger trucks passing by. The next day, I bought a cheap pack of earplugs at Walgreens and slept undisturbed the rest of my stay. My co-workers stayed in rooms further from the street and had no trouble with noise whatsoever. My room was spacious and nicely updated. It was very clean and the decor was modern and tasteful. The bed was comfortable, the bathroom immaculate, and there was a fridge, coffeemaker and hairdryer in the room. The space seemed recently redone and was a great place to call home for a week.

The last night we were in town, our client arranged for us to stay at the Crown Plaza just down the street. Let's just say that it paled in comparison to The Zen Hotel, and we were all sorry we'd had to move. If business takes us back to Palo Alto, I would absolutely book us at The Zen Hotel again. It was a very positive experience and a most comfortable stay.

Room Tip: If you're sensitive to traffic noise, ask for a room away from the road or pack ear plugs.
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled on business
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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San Luis Obispo, California
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 22, 2012

Needed a place to stay for medical tests being done at Stanford Hospital. We were immediately impressed with the room upon opening the door. The room was decorated with a Far East flavor, which looked extremely inviting and relaxing. The room was spacious, neat and clean. Along one wall where the flat screen TV sat, was a very long credenza, with ample space to sit and work on a laptop and to spread out paper work. The beds were cozy and very comfortable and there were many pillows supplied for our comfort which was a big plus. There were low light reading lamps on adjustable arms beside the beds, which made it possible to read at night without lighting up the entire room and disturbing other's sleep. We made good use of the small refrigerator in the room which kept everything very cold. There was complimentary bottled water, Arrowhead Spring Water and a good array of coffee, tea, creamers and sweetners in the room. The room was quiet, except for people slamming doors now and then. The toilet was a problem. The design of the toilet was not suitable for solid waste to be thoroughly flushed without using an ice bucket to fill the bowl with ample water to completely flush the toilet clean. Just trying to flush toilet paper was a also problem on occasion and required several flushes before the paper was flushed completely down. The parking spaces in front of the rooms in the main courtyard could pose a problem for people in wheelchairs or on crutches. The stepway to the front door of the room through bamboo plants set in planters cut into the concrete are aesthetically beautiful, but make for narrow footing and rather precarious navigation. All in all though, our stay was comfortable and relaxing. The staff seemed very helpful and genuinely interested in making our stay a pleasant experience. The Zen Hotel is conveniently located near Stanford, great restaurants and shopping. We will be booking another room there in the near future.

Room Tip: The one story rooms in the main courtyard were far enough away from the busy road, El Camino Real, a...
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled on business
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Luis Obispo, CA
Top Contributor
96 reviews 96 reviews
49 hotel reviews
Reviews in 54 cities Reviews in 54 cities
47 helpful votes 47 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 16, 2012

My husband and I stayed here on a recent training trip for me. We got what we asked for: a quiet room (even though the main street's noise can be quiet loud). Note to fellow Zen guests: gently close the door to your room...if not, it makes a loud, resonating sound that disturbs the zen zone.
The service was outgoing, friendly and helpful.
The room was small and clean. Too bad some slightly off measurements in cutting finish work to the room happened. If all these little details had some together well, it'd be a very nice little room.
Wi-fi was slow. Sometimes trying an alternate connection would work. Other times, it was pointless to even try. Oh well, I didn't need to reply to work email anyway!
The mattress was not springs, so that's a plus. Unfortunately for fans of firm, cool mattresses this mattress was very soft (my husband referred to his side of the bed as "his hole" to sleep in) and the flippin' pillow top padding (please let this fad pass away into non zen sleeping habits of the past!) was mooshy and trapped body heat. So it was another couple nights' sleep of cold on top and hot on the bottom.
Overall, it's a good place to stay.
Loved the little zen garden area back behind the front first floor rooms. It was nice having the bamboo in the room, along with the fridge and microwave. Breakfast is the typical make your own, on a small scale. Good coffee. Cookies in the evening are fairly calorie-worthy! Cute neighborhood in the back for evening strolls.

Room Tip: Ask for a quiet room if street noise disrupts your sleeop
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
ricberr, General Manager at The Zen Hotel, responded to this review, October 18, 2012
Dear Guest,

Thank you for your candid review and for your great comments about our staff and our overall hotel decor.

Please accept my apologies for not meeting your expectations of mattress comfort. The mere nature of our pillow-top mattresses would probably not be the first choice of a firm-mattress lover. We have received a great deal of wonderful comments about them, but I certainly understand where you are coming from.

In regards to our wireless Internet, we will make sure to take a look at our network to make certain it is working properly. Thank you for the feedback.

Your comments are very much appreciated and help us have an open conversation about the good and also about the not-so-good. Thank you for your time and we look forward to an opportunity to welcome you back to our hotel.

With warm regards,

Ricardo Berrospi
General Manager
THE ZEN HOTEL
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Rhode Island
Senior Contributor
44 reviews 44 reviews
19 hotel reviews
Reviews in 27 cities Reviews in 27 cities
22 helpful votes 22 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 11, 2012

On the advice of Tripadvisor, we stayed at the Zen Hotel a couple of years ago when my son was visiting colleges. Last month, we were back for 4 days to drop the kid off at Stanford, and our stay at the Zen was fantastic!

The whole family was along, so we booked a suite. Too many of the chain places slap the label "suite" on any room that slightly larger than standard and has a sofa and a bed in it, and those kinds of suites don't provide the privacy (aka, the freedom for Mom to go to bed early while everyone else stays up to watch a movie) that traveling families crave. The Zen offers a full bedroom suite—the bedroom had 2 queen beds and a door—while the spacious living area had a sofa bed, comfy chair, dining room area w/ table and chairs, and kitchenette. The room, on the ground level, had 2 doors, one that opened to the parking area and the other that opened to a lovely little garden with additional seating.

Although we were on street level, we were not bothered by noise. The hotel was busy with other families dropping their kids off, yet we never had trouble finding a (free) parking space or using the free wifi.

Since we are moving the kid across the country, we shopped in California rather than shipping boxes or paying to bring extra luggage on the plane. The Zen has a coin-operated washer and dryer, which made it easy to launder those new sheets and towels before the big move. The front desk staff was happy to make change.

The hot breakfast buffet is included in the room rate. The breakfast room was crowded at times, but the buffet was kept well stocked. Free cookies in the afternoon too!

The room and public areas were clean. The staff was friendly. The hotel is 2 miles from Stanford, and there is a Walgreens across the street. Easy drive to downtown Palo Alto or Mountain View, where there are plenty of options for restaurants, groceries or other shopping.

Thanks for helping make our trip easy! We'll definitely be back!

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
ricberr, General Manager at The Zen Hotel, responded to this review, October 18, 2012
Dear Guest,

I'd like to thank you for being a returning guest of The Zen Hotel and for composing such nice and detailed review. We really appreciate when our guests are able to share their experience, which we find extremelly valuable and helpful to our efforts of promoting our business and services. I am glad you enjoyed your stay in our one bedroom suite and that you plan to stay with us on your next trip to Palo Alto.

We look forward to keep welcoming you back!

Best regards,

Ricardo Berrospi
General Manager
THE ZEN HOTEL
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 8, 2012 via mobile

This was my second trip to Palo Alto, but my first at the Zen. This place is truly a diamond in the rough. The exterior is tidy, well kept (very clean), with a peaceful feel. The rooms are a good size and well equipped with everything a traveller could want. Breakfast was great, much more than typical hotel fare with fresh baked goods and hot fresh eggs, oatmeal and fruit. The location is great too. Just off El Camino and within a short drive to Stanford, downtown Palo Alto, restaurants and shopping. We will definitely stay here again!

Stayed October 2012, traveled with family
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle
Senior Contributor
42 reviews 42 reviews
38 hotel reviews
Reviews in 36 cities Reviews in 36 cities
51 helpful votes 51 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 6, 2012

Although located on a main street (which my room was on), it was very quiet. The room was clean, well decorated, comfortable. The price was a little steep, but compared to other hotels in the area this was reasonably priced. It is more of a "motel" style but FREE parking. Decorated with zen like stones and bamboo out front. All in all, very comfortable. Very clean!

Room Tip: Would advise a room NOT on the main street
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled on business
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Zen Hotel

Address: 4164 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94306
Phone Number:
Location: United States > California > Palo Alto
Amenities:
Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#3 Romantic Hotel in Palo Alto
#4 Family Hotel in Palo Alto
#5 Business Hotel in Palo Alto
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:2.5 star — The Zen Hotel 2.5*
Number of rooms: 37
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
Townhouse Hotel Palo Alto

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