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.
- 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