The Clement:Palo Alto's five-star experience goes far to impress
By Kathy Chin Leong
"We have fresh udon. Do you like udon noodles?" asks Chef Phillip. He is one of five chefs here at The Clement, all-inclusive boutique hotel in Palo Alto where every meal, snack, and beverage is included and crafted to your liking. And yes, of course, I like udon noodles. Here at The Clement, the pickiest eater to the most allergy-prone consumer will find their ideal comfort food as chefs cater to every culinary need and request imaginable.
Owner and visionary Clement Chen wants you to feel as if you have been invited to your rich uncle's villa with staff at your beck and call. And if I had a rich uncle, this is what it would probably feel like. This is the only all-inclusive hotel in the area which means that your meals, snacks, and tips, are completely covered. Not only are amenities bundled such as the sunscreen or sunglasses on the rooftop pool, but white-glove treatment comes with the price of admission.
Cost? Let’s say, $429 and up. There are only 23 suites on this multi-story hotel, and they fill up fast. When you need an adult getaway to celebrate anything at all, a stay at The Clement will represent a landmark event in your memory.
The experience begins before you step a glass slipper onto the premises. Once you book, the Clement reservation manager emails you with a friendly list of questions regarding your preferences for waters, snacks, alcohol, and more.
And when you arrive and float up to the hotel’s glass doors, the staff will greet you by name because they have been expecting you. The hotel is located on busy El Camino Real, sandwiched between a Sheraton Hotel and the local health clinic. It is on a narrow plot of land, but don’t let the small footprint fool you. Surprises await. One of the valet attendants swooped up to take my luggage and parked my car. The smiling concierge prepared for me a cocktail and led me on a personal tour of the modern hotel which commenced with a walk-through of the open kitchen and stocked pantry, which is open all day, all night for its guests. (I wonder what the average weight gain is per guest.)
In my suite, the hotel stocked complimentary bottles of my preferred wine, juices, sodas, and liquor. On the bureau, a basket of cookies and chocolates and popcorn-all the snacks I said I loved-were shouting, “Eat me! Eat me!” In addition to that, a pair of local Kara cupcakes, chocolate and vanilla, were nestled inside a pretty pink bakery box. Then there was the handwritten note from Mr. Chen himself. He included his cell phone number in case I needed anything. Next to the card, I discovered ivory stationary with my name printed at the top of each page just in case I wanted to write a letter to brag to all my friends.
The suite oozed special touches such as two giant 65-inch flat screen TVs, a calming bonsai plant, a tabletop sand garden raked with the greeting, “Welcome to The Clement.” I took note of the fresh-smelling, soft gray and white marbled bathroom- yes, I wanted to model my bathroom after this one. Ribbon wrapped lavender soaps near the sink and heated floors were just the start.
In the bedroom, this palette of greys and whites speak ease to weary guests. Our suite featured a separate bedroom and lining room area with a balcony overlooking the a small garden. The bedroom lavished us with an enviable 65-inch flat screen television and a tall cushioned gray, headboard with impregnated tiny reading lights on each side. The warm wood furnishings looked slightly mid-century modern with plenty of task lighting to set the right mood. Go business or go romantic- you set the stage.
Closets are equipped with robes, slippers and safe, and, just for me, the staff included the yoga mat I requested ahead of time. The turn down maids left fresh donut holes on our night stands with bottled Voss waters too. Remote control shades and state-of-the-art room thermometer made sure all of our temperature needs were met.
Then my husband Frank was happy to play with the integrated TV and lights built right into the mirror which was completely flat. What a delight to try new shower products such as the Sonoma Valley startup - 80 Acres olive oil lotions , shampoo and soaps. The orchid on the counter was the real thing, not a fake, a welcoming touch. And I also appreciated the white soaking bathtub with matching loofa sponge. Well, no time for a soak during my 24 hour stay, for we wanted to be sure to venture to the elegant rooftop for a swim.
The elevator brought me straight up to the rooftop pool where there we discovered a whirlpool, covered cabanas, a fire pit and heat lamps. The view overlooks busy El Camino Real and Stanford University. The staff thinks of everything to make your stay comfy on the rooftop. This includes a phone for calling in rooftop dining. Seared salmon poolside? Rack of lamb? You are only a digital dial away from bliss. Chilled bottled water, a tray of sunglasses, and tubes of sunblock are ready for guests arranged smartly on a cart. I completed a few laps in the small, 3-ft deep infinity pool and also managed a dip in the whirlpool. Fluffy towels were ready on the lounge chairs.
Back down to our suite, we greedily snagged the opportunity to dine in the private dining room where Chef Phillip whipped up an off-the-menu meal: fresh poke followed by a rice sushi with seared salmon. Then, as promised, he concocted an udon stir fry with asparagus and beef steak. We were so full, and yet, for the sake of journalism, we loosened our belt buckles and squeezed in dessert. Out trotted an Apple tart paired with burnt salted caramel ice cream from local ice creamery, Tin Cup. I was already full but I could not resist!
Speaking of food, you get to eat all the time. Since breakfast, lunch and dinner is included, I suggest you fast for a week prior to arrival. You get all the snacks you can handle. A refrigerator pantry is filled with cheeses, yogurts, fruit, drinks and gourmet ice cream for your consumption. Then, pastries on the counter as well as the fancy machine for to-go drinks are enough to saturate a handkerchief for you will be drooling all the way upstairs to your room.
Security is a big deal here. Strangers cannot go into the lobby without being checked in first. To get in, you use your hotel room key. To use the elevator, you use your plastic room key every time. Thus, it is quiet here and folks of celebrity stature get privacy as well. During the weekdays, the clients aremainly business folk. On weekends, the scene changes to couples and families who want to rest and stay in all weekend. It is an oasis of the highest caliber.
Need room service for anything? You get it with a smile. When I asked for a toothbrush in the middle of the night, I got it in less than five minutes. At The Clement, they pamper you to the hilt. There is no need to be embarrassed to ask or feel like you are bothering the staff. They want to service you. They really do. Need a respite and not want to go far? The Clement, while expensive, is your ticket out of Silicon Valley, while still in Silicon Valley.
The Clement Hotel
711 El Camino Real
Rates: $429 and up.