When it comes to sumptuous hotel stays in the Bay Area, the Graduate Palo Alto is truly at the top of the class. Recently unveiled downtown, the Graduate Palo Alto boasts posh comfort, exquisite cuisine, a stunning rooftop, and decor that reflects the scholastic charm and prestigious nostalgia of nearby Stanford University, making it an instant fit on the storied University Avenue.
With maximalist elegance, genuinely kind service, and inventively talented cooking and mixology, this delightful Spanish revival getaway is truly as luxurious as it is leisurely, and as cutting-edge contemporary as it is classic and cozy.
Renowned across the nation and even across the pond for their authentic appreciation towards the culture and histories of their nearby universities and the locations they reside in, each Graduate Hotel is uniquely distinct and offers an awe-inspiring microcosm that reverently channels the stories and identity of their vibrant neighborhood and state.
With the Graduate Palo Alto being the 33rd hotel in their expansive portfolio, this west coast abode wholeheartedly embodies all of the greatest aspects of northern California and Stanford University specifically, as immediately evident even before you are welcomed inside the lavish doors.
Formerly the Hotel President, much of the original 1920's architecture and functional features were fabulously maintained and carefully restored to be continually adored and utilized along with its completely revamped space. With the entire building in a lavish Mission Revival architectural style, the original Victorian elevator and sweeping central stairwell are both remarkably given new life, while the wooden beams and ornate Spanish tiles are precisely replicated and enhanced to precisely exude old-world charm with modern aesthetics.
Vintage Cardinal art and several other bespoke pieces thoughtfully sourced from local vendors gloriously adorn the wall surrounding the lobby's central fireplace, the captivating heat and rustic communal look of which instantly inviting you in to relax and socialize. Just past the warm and friendly check-in desk is Lou & Herbert’s, a cafe and restaurant on the main floor that further uplifts this snug den feel with their plush seating and nourishing offerings.
With rich espresso and coffee sourced from local San Francisco-based Saint Frank Coffee pairing wonderfully with their divine breakfast options, this is the ultimate effortless way to get your day started right here. The rest of the menu maintains California-driven inspiration with other local partnerships, such as delightful pastries from Manresa Bread.
When dinner comes, this day-to-night cafe continues their fresh seasonality with their perfectly flavored vegetarian and seafood options. The Warm Roasted Cauliflower is spiced and slightly sweet with sumac and pomegranate molasses, while the Prime Beef Tenderloin Tartare is intriguingly savory with Asian pear and black garlic. The sourdough with whipped bone marrow “butter” is also lusciously irresistible. All of these are best when paired with their spirit-forward cocktails, like the Birge's Blueprint with palo santo smoke, saline, and sage cordial, or the must-try 1929 with banana-infused bourbon and banana oleo.
Using their prime golden elevator, head up to their rooftop to discover the most immense views of the Bay Area at the President's Terrace. As the only rooftop bar in Palo Alto, this is a highly desirable and breathtaking hangout that dazzles with brilliant lights, woven wicker lounge furniture, and a trendy bar that evokes a lush oasis escape from the bustle far below. The cocktails and seafood here further elevate the tropical feel, especially with the seafood sourced incredibly fresh routinely from nearby Half Moon Bay.
The must-orders here are their flavorful Oysters, the Hokkaido Scallop Ceviche with cucumber, chili de arbol, and coconut, and the bright lemony Pacific Kampachi Crudo.
The libations are equally inventive as the food and as Instagrammable as the views, personally crafted by world-renowned mixologist Bad Birdy. The West of Eden cocktail is summery with cucumber and watermelon, The Nutty Professor features pistachio orgeat and foam, and the Weekend at Burning Man is the desert in an evocative terra cotta cup with elote syrup, tequila, and ancho chile bitters.
The rooms themselves are a fantastic explosion of classic Stanford aesthetics. From the beautiful flowery wallpaper, to the eclectic art, California redwood-embellished headboards, and deeply vivid color schemes, everything in the spacious and sunny rooms emit Cardinal excellence and regality.
Coming back to these rooms after a long day of exploring the nearby retail haven of the Stanford Shopping Center, the enlightening Cantor Arts Center, or lush Elizabeth F. Gamble Garden with their available complimentary bikes will have you unwinding just like the honor students did.
Definitely acknowledge the adorable replica of traditional time capsules on the hallway carpets, and your room keys of prestigious alumni as well!
Perfectly hitting the right levels of sophistication, playful whimsy, and venerable nostalgia, everything in the Graduate Palo Alto is quintessentially Stanford and authentically Californian without being overwhelming or tacky. A stay at this hallowed Spanish Revival home will definitely make you want to enroll over and over here.
The Graduate Palo Alto is located on 488 University Ave, and you can find more information on their website.
Photography by: Courtesy of bread & Butter