Garden Court Hotel Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Palo Alto, Silicon Valley, California

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

  • Convenient downtown location, within walking distance of shops, restaurants, and several businesses
  • Beautiful rooms feature classic decor and marble bathrooms
  • Large flat-screen TVs and iPod docks
  • Tasty on-site restaurant is known for its brunch
  • Morning coffee and pastries, and a weekly reception with free wine and hors d'oeuvres
  • 7,000 square feet of meeting space
  • One-time fee for pets includes amenities such as treats, dishes, beds, and even walks
  • Free Wi-Fi

Cons

  • No pool, unlike many nearby hotels

Bottom Line

The Garden Court Hotel is a standout boutique property in Downtown Palo Alto. The hotel's beautiful rooms are the highlight; they have elegant white-and-blue decor, upscale amenities, marble bathrooms, and in many, balconies overlooking the quaint courtyard. Property features include an upscale Italian restaurant, 7,000 square feet of meeting space, and a small fitness center. Though there is no spa, the hotel can arrange in-room massages, and owners can bring pets for a one-time fee (which covers pet-friendly amenities such as beds and treats). Those looking for more features -- such as a spa and a pool -- may consider the nearby, 200-room Four Seasons or the Rosewood Sand Hill in Menlo Park, but guests return to the Garden Court for its elegant rooms and intimate vibe.

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 Scene

This upscale boutique hotel has a quiet, elegant vibe.

The Garden Court exudes a refined vibe from the minute guests walk into the small lobby. Outfitted in neutral tones -- with attractive touches such as local photography, fresh flowers, and a fireplace -- the lobby feels like it's part of an elegant home rather than a business-friendly hotel.

But make no mistake -- this certainly is a business-friendly hotel. Garden Court's main customers are business travelers, due to its downtown Palo Alto location and business-oriented amenities. Though the weekly wine reception, quaint courtyard, and gorgeous rooms make it well-suited for couples as well. Leisure travelers will likely appreciate the hotel's address: It's on a quaint, tree-lined street, just off of downtown's University Avenue and within walking distance of restaurants, shops, and spas. Children are welcome -- the hotel offers tots welcome gifts and the restaurant features a kids menu -- but the elegant (read: quiet) vibe and lack of a pool may turn some families off. The nearby Four Seasons, Creekside Inn, Rosewood Sand Hill, and Standard Terrace all have pools.

 Location

In Downtown Palo Alto just off of University Ave, lined with restaurants and several businesses

The Garden Court hotel is located in Downtown Palo Alto, on a quaint tree-lined street just off of University Avenue. This is a convenient spot considering that the Avenue is the street that Downtown is centered around -- and where numerous restaurants and businesses are found. In fact, companies such as Facebook and Google got their start in offices along the street. It is a good location for business travelers as well as tourists, because the downtown area is not only home to several businesses but is also the main tourist area of Palo Alto. Plus, the residential neighborhood adjacent to the hotel is an pleasant spot for a stroll as there are several parks.

The hotel is just about a 5-minute drive from Highway 101, to the east. To the west -- about 10 minutes away -- lies the slightly more scenic (and less congested) 280 Freeway.

Palo Alto is located in the heart of Silicon Valley, overlooking the southern part of the San Francisco Bay, and right off Highway 101. It is a laid-back town, home to world-famous Stanford University, with beautifully tended lawns, a couple of museums, and an impressive church on-site. Another main draw in Palo Alto is the top-notch shopping (mostly found at the Stanford Mall) and unlike other areas of Silicon Valley, this small city has a lively feel that makes it a nice spot to visit.

  • 23-minute drive to the San Jose International Airport
  • 27-minute drive to the San Francisco International Airport
  • 2 to 15-minute walk to the shops and restaurants on University Ave
  • 17-minute walk, or 4-minute drive, to the Elizabeth F. Gamble Garden
  • 20-minute walk, or 5-minute drive, to the Stanford Shopping Center
  • 23-minute walk, or 6-minute drive, to the Cantor Arts Center
  • 5-minute drive to the Palo Alto Art Center
  • 6-minute drive to Stanford University
  • 7-minute drive to Hoover Tower, with great views of the city
  • 10-minute drive to the Stanford University Golf Course
  • 12-minute drive to Lucy Evans Baylands Nature Interpretive Center
  • 38-minute drive to Half Moon Bay beaches
  • 41-minute drive to San Francisco

 Rooms

The rooms here are a standout, with elegant decor and tech-friendly amenities.

The 62 rooms have an elegant, classic American look with striped furniture, crisp linens, fresh flowers on the bedside tables, and a blue-and-white color scheme. Love seats with pretty accent pillows sit at the foots of the beds, and the spacious work desks' drawers are stocked with all kinds of supplies, such as glue, scissors, post-its, paper clips and staplers. Other room amenities include large flat-screen TVs, iPod docks, and free Wi-Fi. Rooms have French doors that open up onto balconies overlooking a quaint courtyard.

The marble bathrooms have a similarly sleek look. Though standard rooms have shower/tub combos, they maintain the upscale vibe with glass doors and shiny fixtures.

Room size varies significantly, even among rooms of the same category. For example, a Deluxe Queen room is 250 square feet, a Deluxe King room is a 350 square feet, and a Deluxe Queen Queen room comes in at 400 square feet. Nonetheless, none are cramped and they feel larger than those at the Four Seasons. Upgrading to the Grand Deluxe Suite or the Penthouse gives guests bathrooms with separate showers and jetted spa tubs, and the Courtyard Deluxe Fireplace King room and the Penthouse both have cozy fireplaces. The Grand Executive King, the Grand Deluxe Suite, and the Deluxe Suite King all have sofa beds.

  • Fresh flowers and fruit upon arrival
  • Rivolta Carmignani Italian linens with down mattress toppers; hypoallergenic bedding is available on request
  • Marble bathrooms with Molton Brown toiletries
  • Large work desks stocked with supplies
  • Turndown goodies such as chocolates
  • Minibars stocked with fancy items such as Veuve Clicquot, artisanal chocolates, and mini bottles of Grey Goose
  • Twice-daily housekeeping
  • Flat-screen TVs with Movies on Demand
  • iPod docks, radios, and CD players
  • Terrycloth robes
  • Free Wi-Fi

 Fitness Center

The fitness center is small, but adequate.

The fitness center at the Garden Court is a small room with just five cardio machines and a weight-training machine. Most other hotels in the area also have fitness centers (some much larger -- such as the one at the Four Seasons), but since the Garden Court is a much smaller property, it gets points just for having one on-site.

Guests can access the fitness center 24/7, but the hotel asks that the treadmill only be used between the hours of 6 a.m. and 11 p.m as it can faintly be heard in the guest room next door.

  • Five Life Fitness cardio machines including a treadmill, bike, and elliptical -- each with a personal TV
  • One weight-training machine, as well as medicine balls and free weights
  • Towels and ice-cold water are provided.

 Family

Kids get a goodie bag upon check-in, but there's no pool

The Garden Court Hotel welcomes kids, though its quiet atmosphere and lack of pool may turn some families off.

  • Free welcome goodie bags for kids
  • Kids' menu at Il Fornaio
  • No pool (unlike at the nearby Four Seasons, Creekside Inn, and Standard Terrace)
  • Room categories with two queen beds, as well as suites with sofa beds.
  • Cribs and rollaway beds available upon request

 Food

On-site Il Fornaio offers brick-oven pizzas and a popular Sunday brunch.

Though the restaurant is owned and operated separately from the hotel, Garden Court is home to Il Fornaio, an upscale Italian chain with over 15 locations in California and several others scattered throughout the US. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner and is known for its Sunday brunch, with fresh-baked pastries and a long list of breakfast entrees with an Italian twist. For lunch and dinner, entree options focus on thin-crust pizza and fresh-made pasta. It is a popular spot for business lunches and dinners.

A kids' menu is available, and tots may get a kick out of watching the servers toss the pizza dough and throw it in the oven. Though the indoor decor is relatively generic (with burgundy booths and mirrored walls), tables are topped with white linens, and the outdoor patio, with a gurgling fountain and a striped awning, is a nice addition.

Guests can also order room service 24/7.

 Services

Wednesday night receptions are a perk.

As a boutique property, the Garden Court Hotel focuses on service. The hotel offers a solid list of services that make it worthy of its luxury hotel status, including free pastries and coffee in the mornings.

  • Wednesday night receptions with free wine and appetizers
  • Free coffee and pastries in the lobby
  • 24-hour concierge
  • Same-day laundry and dry-cleaning
  • In-room spa treatments are available.
  • 24-hour room service
  • Free fruit and water in the lobby
  • Overnight shoe shines available
  • Morning newspaper delivery
  • Valet parking only
  • Free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel

 Pets

Pets up to 120 pounds are welcome at the hotel for a one-time fee.

One of the most pet-friendly options in Palo Alto, the Garden Court allows furry friends (up to 120 pounds) to stay in the rooms for a one-time $50 fee. The fee includes:

  • A welcome pet amenity
  • Use of a pet bed, mat, and dishes
  • Pet turndown service
  • Walks upon request

 Business and Conventions

A popular spot among business travelers

Due to its Silicon Valley location and on-site business amenities, the Garden Court attracts mostly business travelers (although couples and families stay as well).

Aside from the chic, 24-hour business center -- which has two large work desks with Mac desktops and printers -- the hotel offers 7,000 square feet of meeting space, and a banquet supervisor is available to help to coordinate meetings. The hotel's downtown Palo Alto address is convenient for those traveling on business, and both the San Jose and San Francisco airports are less than a half-hour drive away.

 Weddings

A pretty setting for a wedding

The Garden Court is a nice choice for a Palo Alto wedding, with attractive outdoor spaces, a tasty on-site restaurant, and an elegant vibe.

  • The hotel provides a wedding specialist to assist in the planning and execution.
  • The ballroom can fit up to 250 guests for a seated reception, or 300 guests for a standing reception.
  • The hotel provides the catering.
  • The bride and groom can choose from a selection of China, linens, and candle lighting provided by the hotel.
  • The bride and groom can choose an outside vendor for the cake, the floral arrangements, the entertainment, and photography. The wedding specialist can offer suggestions.

 Handicap

The hotel has several handicap-accessible rooms.

Several Deluxe King and Deluxe Queen Queen rooms, located on the second floor, are handicap accessible. The hotel is equipped with an elevator, and as a pet-friendly hotel, the Garden Court permits service dogs.

Handicap accessible rooms include:

  • Lowered beds
  • Roll-in showers with seats
  • Wheelchair-accessible sinks and toilets

 Bottom Line

The Garden Court Hotel is a standout boutique property in Downtown Palo Alto. The hotel's beautiful rooms are the highlight; they have elegant white-and-blue decor, upscale amenities, marble bathrooms, and in many, balconies overlooking the quaint courtyard. Property features include an upscale Italian restaurant, 7,000 square feet of meeting space, and a small fitness center. Though there is no spa, the hotel can arrange in-room massages, and owners can bring pets for a one-time fee (which covers pet-friendly amenities such as beds and treats). Those looking for more features -- such as a spa and a pool -- may consider the nearby, 200-room Four Seasons or the Rosewood Sand Hill in Menlo Park, but guests return to the Garden Court for its elegant rooms and intimate vibe.

Things You Should Know About Garden Court Hotel

Address

  • 520 Cowper Street, Palo Alto, California 94301

Room Types

  • Courtyard Deluxe Fireplace
  • Deluxe King
  • Deluxe Queen
  • Deluxe Queen Queen
  • Deluxe Suite King
  • Grand Deluxe Suite
  • Grand Executive King
  • Penthouse

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Rosewood Sand Hill

Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 62
Pool: No
Fitness Center: Yes
Internet Access: Yes
Pets Allowed: Yes
Cribs: Yes
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Hotel Information

Location: Palo Alto, Silicon Valley
Address: 520 Cowper Street, Palo Alto, California 94301
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