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Walnut Creek Magazine

Stylish Park James Hotel puts Menlo Park on the Map

Jan 21, 2019 10:53AM ● By Fran Miller

By Fran Endicott Miller

By expertly and artistically exuding the aura of its location, Menlo Park’s new Park James Hotel provides a posh reason to visit this little corner of Silicon Valley. Located along busy El Camino Real, on the site of what was once a gas station, the Park James is a haven, and a subtle monument to his its host town; each and every detail of the hotel’s design pays intentional homage to the agrarian roots and Irish heritage of this Palo Alto-bordering bedroom community, and the effect is enchanting. 

But one need not be a history buff to appreciate the hotel’s meticulously well-thought-out décor and design scheme. It’s not necessary to know that the equestrian themed artwork is a nod to Menlo Park’s rural past, or that the emerald green, velvet lounge chairs in each room represent the Emerald Isle. It’s not imperative to note that the steamer trunk wardrobes evoke images of intercontinental travel, nor are guests expected to interpret the provenance of the impossibly soft Irish throws strewn across each bed. The dyed cowhide lobby wall doesn’t need to announce its pastoral inspiration, and even the hotel’s name - Park for Menlo Park, and James, both for Menlo’s founder Dennis James and the hotel’s current owner – can simply be construed as a classy moniker.

Each understated aspect serves to create a sum greater than its dapper parts. Each of the 61 rooms feature high end furnishings and fabrics outfitted in a soothing and earthy color palette that includes Oak paneling, caramel colored leather headboards, and unique lighting fixtures. Luxury amenities include Frette sheets, Momo toiletries, in-room pour over coffee from Ritual Coffee Roasters (no K-cups here), and a mini bar suited to each guest’s likes and needs. In-room tablet controls and digital entry pads give guests full control with a simple touch. Each hotel room features oversized windows that open to the outdoors, allowing for cooling breezes and occasional glances towards the large O+V Courtyard below.

Already a favored Menlo Park gathering spot, this massive outdoor living room flows seamlessly from the indoor lobby and bar and features communal dining tables, a living green wall, and fire pits surrounded by plush couches adorned with throw pillows and blankets. It’s as cozy and convivial as an Irish pub, and in an area with no shortage of bars and lounges, has quickly become the locals’ choice for crafted cocktails and tapas. Inside, the soothing purple and gray hue of Oak + Violet restaurant beckons. The name? Another nod to Menlo Park. Oak = Menlo Park’s official tree; Violet = the official flower.

Here, Executive Chef Simona Oliveri presents locally sourced, California cuisine, and her simple and artful dishes have already found a loyal following. During a recent outing, an adjacent diner admitted to multiple visits, specifically for the salmon entrée; “The most delicious and expertly prepared salmon I’ve ever had,” were her exact words. Additional fan favorites include the mini lobster tacos served with avocado crème, the crispy Brussels sprouts with chopped hazelnuts, and the simple Parker House rolls served with lemon-poppy seed butter. The stuffed whole Branzino is a show stopper as is the cast iron 16 oz. bone-in filet. A thoughtfully curated wine list provides options perfectly paired to the beautifully prepared cuisine.

Tailored to the weekday business traveler, the Park James welcomes with open arms its weekend guests who find its carefully curated amenities to also promote rest and relaxation. Centrally located to Silicon Valley’s bevy of boutiques, museums, and gardens, the hotel is an ideal home base for exploration. And though perfect for laptop connectivity, those slouchy O+V Courtyard couches are equally conducive to afternoon napping. 

Park James Hotel: 1400 El Camino Real, Menlo Park

Photos courtesy of the Park James Hotel