With many Marinites commuting to the Silicon Valley for work or family visits, these four hot spots offer a momentary respite or new meeting place. And their easy driving distance makes them ideally situated for a day trip or a weekend getaway as well.
The warmth of the Mediterranean swirls through this Autograph Collection hotel, where blues in all shades remind guests of that region’s sparkling sea and easygoing hospitality. Even the pool, just off the lobby, cooperates, its silky waters and blue-canopied chaise lounges beckoning sirenlike from across the lobby. The truest respite may be in this Menlo Park hotel’s restaurant, Porta Blu, where lush wall tapestries, Mediterranean blue tile and blue doors on the ceiling evoke a portal to a stress-free world. Locals enjoy the patio to dine alfresco on shared bites like Thai chicken wings with orange-chile glaze and Monterey artichoke and crab dip or to sip cocktails like the Mangonada, a chile-infused tequila, Triple Sec and lime concoction that warms even the coldest technologically driven heart. Check out the Cali-For-Nia package where anyone with California ID can stay for 15 percent off the usual rate.
The bright red Lamborghinis parked in the circular drive at this hotel overlooking the mountains are your first sign that things are luxurious at Rosewood Sand Hill. Down the road from the venture capital offices that help fund the region’s growth, this expansive hotel exudes a sense of the grand, from the wide lobby’s floral bouquets and gold-tile-inlaid walls to the pool to the well-manicured grounds. Step past the bar and the massive panels of lacquered cedar to find Madera. Here, Michelin-starred executive chef Reylon Agustin shines a light on Northern California’s exceptional ingredients. Summer might bring a stone fruit salad spackled with koji-infused yogurt or hand-rolled pici pasta with Sonoma rabbit and foraged mushrooms. The wine list attracts its own following too, especially now that Madera has earned the 2018 Wine Spectator Grand Award.
Want to leave home but keep the homey vibe? The Clement Palo Alto is your lair. The entire hotel is dedicated to its guests — that means a staff responsive to your every need, including the chef, who keeps a pantry stocked with graze-worthy snacks and a menu easily customized to your day’s caloric intake and your gluten-free or other dietary wishes. Sure, you can enjoy a cocktail in the Living Room, but why not take it up to the roof? There poolside cabanas and a heated pool overlooking the Stanford University campus await. The poke nachos are a must. Within walking distance of Stanford Stadium, the hotel offers a to-go lunch package for football fans. The exclusive private tasting and tour for two at Ridge’s Monte Bello Winery in the nearby Santa Cruz Mountains may be the hottest wine ticket in town: with a five-wine flight and library pour that includes the most current vintage, it’s a taste of the South Bay that connoisseur won’t want to miss.
Opened in the fall of 2018 a block from Menlo Park’s downtown, the Park James Hotel reflects the region’s willingness to mix work and play. From a wall of mini-vases filled with violets in honor of the town’s official flower to a ceiling dotted with hundreds of “matchstick” lights, the design by San Francisco’s Parisa O’Connell Interior Design feels modern yet intimate. Soft touches — cowhide handles on closet doors and Irish woolen throws — remind guests of the town’s ranching past. Pitch-perfect lighting marks an easy flow from the entrance to the courtyard and to Oak + Violet, a lobby bar/restaurant featuring craft cocktails (try the Southside with Junipero Gin, lime, and butterfly tea syrup). Locals are already queuing up for the lobster tacos with avocado sauce and other inspired takes on California cuisine from executive chef Simona Oliveri.
This article originally appeared in Marin Magazine as “South Pull”.
Christina Mueller is a long-time Bay Area food writer. She hails from the East Coast and has spent way too much time in South America and Europe. She discovered her talent as a wordsmith in college and her love of all things epicurean in grad school. She has written for Condé Nast Contract Publishing, Sunset, and the Marin Independent Journal, among others. She volunteers with California State Parks and at her childrens’ schools, and supports the Marin Audubon Society, PEN America, and Planned Parenthood. When she is not drinking wine by a fire, she is known to spend time with her extended family.