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“A converted motel” 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 25 Hotels in Palo Alto
Berkeley, California
Top Contributor
93 reviews 93 reviews
21 hotel reviews
Reviews in 36 cities Reviews in 36 cities
39 helpful votes 39 helpful votes
“A converted motel”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 25, 2012

If the word "hotel" brings to mind a multi-story structure with a spacious lobby, with a coffee shop and bar near the reception desk, think again. The Zen Hotel is a remodeled motel. Nicely remodeled, with clean, attractive rooms, but nothing more. The staff is friendly, the location is convenient. A hot breakfast buffet is included in the price.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 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
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161 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
    71
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    10
    6
    1
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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
Near San Francisco
Senior Contributor
42 reviews 42 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 21, 2012

This place was very pleasant and a great deal. We loved the beds, the showers and the breakfast in particular. This site was clearly once some sort of motor lodge. low square buildings have been made modern and up to date. The decor was nice and not at all like what we usually see at such modest prices. While close to El Camino Real, traffic noise was minimal and it was easy to get on and off this major blvd because the driveway leads you to a side street with a traffic light. also, I am very particular about smells and this place was great. the rooms smelled fresh and clean not like cleanser/chemicals. Room 211 is on the ground floor and has a back door that leads to a sweet (shared) garden space, great airflow. My mom stayed in a nearby room (201) and it was also nice but did not have a back door. We both rave about this place!

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 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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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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
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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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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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Maine
Top Contributor
66 reviews 66 reviews
17 hotel reviews
Reviews in 39 cities Reviews in 39 cities
940 helpful votes 940 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
30 reviews 30 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 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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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco, California
Senior Contributor
49 reviews 49 reviews
46 hotel reviews
Reviews in 36 cities Reviews in 36 cities
129 helpful votes 129 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.
See more room tips
  • 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
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 ( Wi-Fi ) Free Parking Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#3 Romantic Hotel in Palo Alto
#3 Family Hotel in Palo Alto
#4 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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