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“Good Place to Stay for Stanford Visit” 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 #4 of 24 hotels in Palo Alto
Davis, Calif.
Senior Contributor
23 reviews 23 reviews
16 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
“Good Place to Stay for Stanford Visit”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 13, 2012

My husband and two teenage sons stayed two nights here one holiday weekend in order to visit Stanford University. The Zen Hotel was reasonably priced & very conveniently located for exploring the campus and the town. The front desk staff were friendly & helpful with suggestions & directions. The hotel was very quiet -- we could occasionally hear other guests coming and going in their cars, but otherwise no noise.

The room was a little crowded for four people, but we managed okay. If I stayed here again with my kids, I'd probably get two adjoining rooms & just splurge for some extra space. I'm not crazy about the design choice to put the sink out in the main room and have only the toilet & bathtub behind closed doors. It's handy if you have one person taking a shower, say, and another person brushing their teeth. But where it's not so great is the middle of the night (or in the morning when teenagers are trying to sleep in) -- there's no way to quietly use the bathroom then wash your hands if the sink is right off the main room with no partition.

This was a relatively minor complaint, however. The room was otherwise very comfortable. They do this strange thing with their pillows, where they sort of fold them in on themselves so they're more like squares than the traditional rectangles, but then you try to use them & you realize they're just regular pillows they've "origami-ed" into squares. (Maybe it's supposed to look more Japanese? I don't know -- I'm Japanese-American & have spent a lot of time in Japan & this doesn't strike me as particularly Japanese.) Whatever. The beds are very attractively appointed. In fact, everything in the room looks quite tasteful, as does the exterior.

Breakfast is served in the main lobby, which is a simple but comfortable space. The breakfast options were also simple but perfectly adequate: yogurt, cereal, toast, bagels, eggs, some kind of breakfast meat (sausages or bacon), oatmeal, fruit, coffee, juice. Also some kind of chocolate-marble muffins that my boys just LOVED. They provide a few different papers to read & CNN was on the TV most mornings, audible but not overwhelmingly loud.

All in all, a very pleasant stay. If either of my kids gets into Stanford, I could see spending the night here again!

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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154 people have reviewed this hotel

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 (46)
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English first
Terni, Italy
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 13, 2012

I've been staying at the Zen hotel for 1 week in the last July, and I found it really confortable and not too much expensive, considering the accomodations prices in that area. It was clean, with an internal useful parking, good rooms, nice breakfast, and an efficient wi-fi connection. Furthermore there is a shared external garden, really well-kept, with fountains and bench, that creates a relaxing atmosphere, ideal for the evening after a day of hard job, and just before to have a dinner in one of the restaurants around. Also the position in fact is very good; it's located on the camino real with any kind of services really close. If I'll come back to Palo Alto, in future, I'll surely try to book a room at the Zen Hotel!

Room Tip: If you have a car, it's better to have a room at the ground floor, because you can park in front...
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled on business
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Maine
Top Contributor
66 reviews 66 reviews
17 hotel reviews
Reviews in 39 cities Reviews in 39 cities
934 helpful votes 934 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 5, 2012

What a wonderful surprise on noisy El Camino to be able to sink into this quiet, tastefully-appointed and reasonably-priced place. It used to be a motel and retains that architecture but goes beyond any motel I've ever seen.

Would definintely stay there again thanks to its serenity and convenience to the southern Bay Area.

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with friends
    • 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
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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, November 7, 2012
Dear guest,

Thank you for your wonderful comments. It seems like this was your first time staying at The Zen Hotel and we are thrilled to learn that your good experience helped us earn a 5 of of 5. We look forward to another opportunity to welcoming you again to our hotel.

Sincerely,

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.
Northbrook, Illinois
Senior Contributor
28 reviews 28 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
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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San Francisco, California
Senior Contributor
48 reviews 48 reviews
45 hotel reviews
Reviews in 36 cities Reviews in 36 cities
124 helpful votes 124 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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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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
44 helpful votes 44 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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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:
#2 Business Hotel in Palo Alto
#2 Best Value Hotel in Palo Alto
#3 Romantic Hotel in Palo Alto
#3 Family Hotel in Palo Alto
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:2.5 star — The Zen Hotel 2.5*
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Also Known As:
Townhouse Hotel Palo Alto

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