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“DISENCHANTING, NEEDS RENOVATION” 2 of 5 stars
Review of Cowper Inn

Cowper Inn
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Cowper Inn
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705 Cowper St, Palo Alto, CA 94301   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #1 of 5 Palo Alto B&B and Inns
Chicago, Illinois
Senior Contributor
28 reviews 28 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
30 helpful votes 30 helpful votes
“DISENCHANTING, NEEDS RENOVATION”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed February 18, 2013

From the outside, the two houses look charming. From the inside, the place varies QUITE A BIT. Our room was in the house next door, not the main house with the front desk and the breakfast room, which seems to have nicer, more "period" interiors. Our room was JUST inside the house's front door, barely 10 steps away, in what used to be the front parlor. The large, original pocket door into our room was charming, but did not provide any sound privacy.

Architecturally, this room has a lovely, large corner bay window overlooking the street, a very high ceiling, and original wood floors and mouldings. However, the last remodel, apparently done in the 1980's, was wholly unattractive and disappointing, certainly not what one expects from a century-old B&B, especially for $179/night. It felt very dingy and not entirely clean (cobwebs and dust were evidence of careless housekeeping). The tacky wallpaper and 80's mauve colors were inappropriate and depressing (more suited to a dated Holiday Inn than a vintage B&B). Although the minimal furniture was antique or vintage, it was in rather shabby condition, in need of repair.

The en suite bathroom is so tiny that it only fits a toilet and very narrow shower stall, again with dated mauve tiles and fittings. The mauve sink is just outside the bathroom, next to the bay window. One whole wall of this room has odd, ugly built-in shelves, barely covered by a curtain, and housing an old, small, deep (not flat screen) TV set. The windows had been left open when we arrived, and they were almost impossible to close and lock. Being on the first floor, this is especially troubling.

Service is nearly non-existent. I have stayed at many B&Bs in the U.S. and Europe, so I know that B&Bs don't have staff like a hotel, but I've never found it so difficult to get ahold of an employee as I did here. We arrived in the late afternoon/early evening, but were not met by anyone. An envelope with our room key was just left for us at the front door of the main house, with no explanation of how to find our room in the other house. Later, when I called the front desk to ask some questions, all I got was a recording, and no one returned my message.

The next morning, when I went to breakfast in the main house next door, I looked around at other rooms whose doors were open. Some looked MUCH better than mine, with genuine period feel, far more attractive furniture and decor, and much larger bathrooms, unlike mine. The only way I would stay at the Cowper Inn again is if I could be guaranteed one of the better-renovated, more attractive, vintage-style rooms, which is what I expect when I stay at a B&B.

Breakfast and location are the very best features at the Cowper Inn. The serve-yourself, buffet-style breakfast was very tasty, fresh, homemade, and plentiful, served in the authentic, charming Arts & Crafts period front rooms of the main house. The locally-made yogurt was addictive! The lovely residential neighborhood was homey and well-located, and the street parking was not difficult for us.

Perhaps the Cowper Inn doesn't feel the need to bring itself up to snuff because lodging choices in the Palo Alto area are not as good as one would think, and they can command high prices simply because of the area. If you stay at the Cowper Inn, don't expect much.

Room Tip: Ask specific details about what your room and bathroom look like to have some idea of what you'l...
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
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56 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (10)
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English first
1 review
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 11, 2012

We have just returned from a two day stay at the Cowper Inn. The best thing by far, is the location. It is maybe two blocks to a nice shopping area. It took us about 25 minutes to walk to the Stadium at Stanford. The room was ok. We stayed in room 28 in the Victorian House. It was large and clean but smelled a little musty. There was a comfortable bed and a small kitchenette.
We checked in and were shown our room by a young man after that, all we saw was one woman. This woman seemed to be running the entire place by her self, cooking and serving breakfast and cleaning rooms. If you want or need interaction with staff, this is not the place for you. The breakfast was a Buffett and had adequate food, nothing special. Palo Alto is a pricey place so I guess this place is reflective of what the market will bear. This was a three day week end and the place was about half full. It was an ok place but is pretty basic.

Room Tip: 28 was large but up two flights of stairs. It was quiet enough and had two beds so could sleep 3 eas...
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Santa Monica, California
Senior Contributor
29 reviews 29 reviews
23 hotel reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
41 helpful votes 41 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed September 18, 2012

The Cowper Inn is not all that it's cracked-up to be.

I chose to stay in what is called a suite at the inn, since no rooms with private baths were available. But, what I ended-up with was no suite. At hotels and b & bs that I've stayed at across the U.S. and around the world, the term suite implies that the room will include a sitting area or some sort. This was not the case in room 26 at The Cowper Inn.

All I got was a large room with a queen size bed, a smallish bathroom and a small second bedroom with a twin bed.
I found the lack of a sitting area strange as I mentioned to the proprietor, several times, that I was meeting a group of friends and would like to socialize in the sitting area of the room. At no time did the proprietor tell me that there was no sitting area in the rooms. When I mentioned all of this to the proprietor, as I checked out, I was told that only the large suites have a sitting area. In my book, a suite is a suite and a bedroom with an adjoining smaller bedroom is just that.

Furthermore, the room was a bit shabby - wallpaper coming off of the walls, porcelain missing from the tub, a curtain rod that needed a lick of pain and a bathroom mirror that was in poor shape. Most importantly, the bedroom windows would not close properly. It was a cool autumnal night and I snuggled under the duvet to keep warm. I was annoyed but would have been more so on a colder night.

Speaking of the duvet, I was surprised to find that there was no duvet cover on the duvet itself. Furthermore, there was no top sheet on the bed. In Europe, when you have this type of set-up, the duvet cover is replaced with each guest. Since my bed didn't have a duvet cover, I can only hope that the duvet was cleaned for me.

On the plus side, the 1896 buildings are lovely on the outside and the gardens and patio are tranquil. The location is great - two blocks from University Ave., Palo Alto's main thoroughfare. And, the continental breakfast, which included French Toast during my one night stay was delicious. I was surprised by the Inn's request to bus my own table. I'd never been asked to do this before an thought it unusual considering the price of my room.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled solo
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 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.
Irvine, California
Senior Contributor
31 reviews 31 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 28, 2012

I have stayed at the Cowper Inn over 50 times. I often come to Palo Alto for business and find the breakfast wonderful especially the homemade granola. I absolutely love the owner Joji. And I love walking the old Palo Alto neighborhood with the beautiful homes.

  • Stayed July 2011, traveled on business
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco, California
Top Contributor
53 reviews 53 reviews
46 hotel reviews
Reviews in 46 cities Reviews in 46 cities
45 helpful votes 45 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 8, 2012

We stayed for one night in February. The Inn is very sweet, and a good place to explore Palo Alto and the Stanford campus. I would say that this is a great place for people who enjoy staying in typical european style B&Bs. The rooms are clean, but there is some noise, based on being in a house with multiple other guests. The rooms are decorated in a period style, and while comfortable, it's certainly more about the character of the place than a luxury experience. The breakfast was delicious and served in a lovely room with a big fireplace, perfect for the rainy day we were having. My only complaint was that the staff was unavailable when we checked out, so we just had to leave our keys and hope for the best (they charged us promptly and for the correct amount and they did call to follow-up). We'd definitely stay there again!

  • Stayed February 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pacific Grove, California
1 review
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed February 24, 2012

I stayed at the Cowper Inn B&B for three nights while my husband was a patient at Stanford Hospital. I rented a suite advertised with a kitchenette. That consisted of a table, chairs, sink, coffeemaker and bar-size refrigerator. There was no way to cook or heat anything in this "kitchenette."
I arrived three minutes after hours and found the keys to my bldg. and room tacked to the front door. I have no problem with that, but I never once found anyone at the front desk, nor did I see the management face-to-face in three days. The note with my keys gave me the wrong code for the wifi, so I had none my first night--got the right code at breakfast the next day. When I checked out, I had to do it by telephone and I was told that a receipt would be emailed to me. It's been two weeks and, despite several additional requests from me, the receipt still has not been forthcoming, so I don't know what additional charges might have been added to my bill.
Breakfast was the one bright spot in my stay. I eat granola and unsweetened yogurt for breakfast at home and was able to get that here--very good.
Just be aware that the service is lacking at the Cowper, there's nobody to deal with any problems you might have and you'd better be ready to drag your own suitcases up and down long flights of stairs if you stay here.

  • Stayed February 2012, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Palo Alto, CA
Senior Contributor
46 reviews 46 reviews
43 hotel reviews
Reviews in 39 cities Reviews in 39 cities
78 helpful votes 78 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 7, 2012

We stayed for 2 weeks in the smallest room they had (#32) to save money on a long business trip. This room has a shared bathroom; however, we are living in Europe right now where there are lots of shared baths so it didn't bother us. Overall we had a good experience. The inn met our needs perfectly, though I can see why it is not for some people. Here is my summary:

The Good
- LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION
- Cool old house with lots of charm and history
- Great housekeeping and neat as a pin
- Aveda bath products
- Well equipped generally (hair dryer, iron, plenty of towels, nice bedding, etc.)

The Bad
- The house is old and creaky with weird angles, not good it you have lots of luggage or are not able to climb stairs
- There is no luxury anything, it is quaint though
- Old house = old windows = lots of street noise
- No AC (at least in #32), you might swelter in the summer

Can't comment on breakfast, we didn't eat there.

Room Tip: Avoid 32 if you are a light sleeper.
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  • Stayed February 2012, traveled on business
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 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.
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Additional Information about Cowper Inn

Address: 705 Cowper St, Palo Alto, CA 94301
Location: United States > California > Palo Alto
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Kitchenette
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 5 B&Bs / Inns in Palo Alto
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Number of rooms: 13
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Cowper Inn is a beautifully restored Craftsman style house that recreates the comfort and elegance of the period's best homes. The parlor, with several conversation areas, a fireplace, and a piano, is a warm and gracious room for visiting or relaxing. Each uniquely shaped guest room is furnished with antiques, television, and telephone. Breakfast, featuring seasonal fruit and fresh-baked breads, is served daily in the paneled dining room. Guests may enjoy sitting outside on the two wicker-decorated porches or in the garden. There is parking on the grounds and easy access to public transportation to San Francisco and San Jose. The Inn is part of the quiet residential neighborhood of Professorville. Downtown Palo Alto's restaurants, shops, and people watching are a two minute walk from the Inn. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Cowper Hotel Palo Alto

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