Yep, it’s silicon valley time and that means the Cowper Inn. This place is so much like home that we request rooms by number in a particular order. Fortunately, we usually end up in 31 (the NPS preferred room).

The flight out on Virgin America was great. Upgraded to first class and ended up with a row of my own. Virgin America makes you pay to upgrade no matter what, but that works for NPS!

It became a clear sunny day in Palo Alto. If you have not visited, Palo Alto is a great place to walk around, window shop, and spend way too much money on furniture. Last time NPS was in town, we accidentally discovered a store which has since managed to sell us multiple very expensive and very comfortable chairs. That would be rejuvenation.


In the yard

Nice room if you ignore the wallpaper

That ’80s kind of shower that your parents had

Through the looking glass

The living room and breakfast room is almost always unoccupied after morning.

Always fresh flowers

In other news, do not go to Roots and Rye which sucks in all possible ways. A waste of gas to get there. workaday: lazy prep, stale bread, uninteresting cocktails, terrible architecture, service that needs training.

Five nostalgic shower heads for the Cowper and its gorgeous yard.

NPS was coming to the Cowper Inn in Palo Alto, CA well before there was even an NPS. Over twenty years and two owners! An lo and behold, repairs are underway this trip with all newly refinished floors, a completely reworked kitchen, and lots of ongoing repair work to the outside shingles. Things are looking good!


We did (apparently) have some trouble securing room 31, but in the end it all worked out. 31 has a new lighter feel with the refinished floor.



And it also has the best shower in the place in a spacious bathroom.



The facelift looks great so far!


But it is not done yet.


In any case, after 20+ years of staying here, it really feels like home. Five showerheads for the Cowper and its new look.

Umami burger on University serves up a mean truffle burger and truffled fries. Just do it!

Tamarine remains an outstanding restaurant. Great wine list and fabulous food. They have been so good for so long, that they’re likely to remain good indefinitely.

Lure+Till has a pretty good bar (but not as good as they think they are) which can conjur up a CR2 if necessary. Their drinks run on the sweet side. Sadly, the whole shebang seems to be owned by Larry Ellison.

Joanie’s Cafe is a great breakfast place in Palo Alto. Surprisingly, NPS has only just discovered it.

If you’re stuck in Mt View, Doppio Zero is a very good pizza place. The only amusing aspect is the Spanish speaking staff who pretend they speak Italian. For a nightcap, the Eureka! bar has a great bourbon selection (Gearge T Stagg and William Larue Weller 2015 for example), but you have to ignore the TVs and the noise.

Virgin America was packed to the gills and felt way too much like United. Hmm.

At NPS, we have been staying at the Cowper Inn for twice as many years as this blog has existed. And it’s still great!

Fresh flowers at the Cowper Inn

Fresh flowers at the Cowper Inn

Room 31 was recently updated with a new showerhead. As shower people, we approve. We also approve of the espresso machine in the breakfast room. If you are doing business in Silicon Valley, stay here.

Old school elegance at the Cowper Inn

Old school elegance at the Cowper Inn

New showerhead, makes the glass cube in 31 even better.

New showerhead, makes the glass cube in 31 even better.

Room 31 at the Cowper Inn

Room 31 at the Cowper Inn


Five showerheads for the Cowper Inn.

Dinner out at Tamarine was fantastic as usual. The Pho made with Kobe beef is outstanding. Add in some empress rice and maybe some banana beignets and you have a great meal. The bar program at Tamarine is back on track as well.

The new Italian place (run by Sicilians, so speak carefully) in Palo Alto is Arte Ristorante. Nice winelist. Decent Italian fare. Atmosphere was fine.

Drinks at Lure and Till were reasonable. They need to up their base liquor collection. Had a well crafted Sazarac (which would have benefitted from a better Rye and less absinthe). The Pisco Sour was properly made. Would love to see an even better cocktail joint in Palo Alto.

The Cowper Inn on a late summer day

The Cowper Inn on a late summer day

The Cowper is like an old friend. I’ve been coming here for longer than I care to remember. The best place to stay in Silicon Valley by far.

Though Joji is not around this time to say hello, I did get my new favorite room (31).

Room 31 at the Cowper Inn

Room 31 at the Cowper Inn

The shower is not fancy, but it’s not plastic either.


And the bathroom is roomy.


The best part of the Cowper experience involves the common areas. A gorgeous craftsman living room and beautiful well kept grounds.

The Cowper Inn living room (where I am typing this)

The Cowper Inn living room (where I am typing this)


Four showerheads for the Cowper Inn. Dinner at nearby Resposado involves a great tequila selection.

This go ’round at the Cowper is much better than my previous visit. More time to relax; a better room (number 31); some time to visit with Joji.

Here is the spectacular mission style living room where breakfast is served every morning.

Cowper Inn breakfast room high style.

Cowper Inn breakfast room high style.

Room 31.

Room 31.

Room 31.

The non-plastic shower in 31 through a big mirror.

Cowper shower in 31 (needs a new showerhead).

Cowper shower in 31 (needs a new showerhead).

A quest for mixology in Palo Alto was met with very limited success. Downtown has zero mixology as far as I can tell. There are some nice outdoor bars associate with restaurants, but you won’t find concoctions worth noting. Dinner nearby in Menlo Park at Flea Street Cafe was workaday and OK. Their bar makes drinks that are too sweet. Their approach to a Sazerac was interesting to say the least. After dinner we hit the Rosewood Sand Hill, which though very gorgeous has a remarkably mundane high end bar.

Four showerheads for the Cowper. All they need is a nearby bar that’s good.

I love the Cowper. It’s my go to place to stay in silicon valley. Like an old friend.

But room 27 sucks. Do not stay in room 27. Here’s why.

The heater in the bathroom is on the blink. At 2:36am it makes enough noise to keep you up the rest of the night. Ouch. There is no “off” button.

Wrong kind of shower.

Wrong kind of shower.

The shower has a shower curtain and is situated over a bath tub. Nice showerhead, but all together as a package not for me.

The rest of the suite is suitable Cowper.




And the grounds are gorgeous as always.

Stone angel at the Cowper Inn.

Stone angel at the Cowper Inn.

This stay only gets three showerheads. Next time I will ask for my usual rooms.

Gorgeous grounds at the Cowper Inn.

I’m here at the Cowper Inn just a block or two from the bustling heart of Palo Alto, California. It’s a beautiful day like always, and is is nice to be here for the fourth time in 2012! (dang.)

I’m in room 28 again, though I think I like 31 better now. No time for breakfast at the Cowper yet this run. But that may be OK since rumor has it that the espresso machine is toast. Joji says another is on the way.

Morning sun.

The cowper is one of my favorite “grandfathered in” five showerheads locations. Do I really visit four times a year these days?

Spent some quality time in San Francisco yesterday with dinner at Chez Papa (get the cassoulet) and after dinner drinks at the Alembic.

The Alembic is just superb. This go ’round, expert bartender Rachel mixed us some excellent drinks (both un-named as far as we know, so I will name them here):
Almost Liberal
1 cognac
1 rye
.75 Avena
.25 Green Chartreuse
.5 Curacao
3-4 Angustora
2-3 Orange bitters (Regans #6)
Express orange peel and disgard

Boozy Moderate
1.5 bourbon
.75 punt et mes
.5 Nocino della christina from Napa (walnut liqueur)
Express orange peel and drop in.

About the only problem with the Alembic is that you need to appear to be a member of the tribe (tats and t-shirts help) or the authentication procedure is really longer than it should be. I accidentally wore a fancy handmade shirt from Argentina. Alas. Also the word “concoction” is verboten among some behind the bar. At least Rachel was friendly!

I’ve been staying here two or three times a year since the ’90s, and I just found a new room. My old favorite #28 was unavailable, so Joji put me up in #31 this time.

I like the hardwood floors and the space. Maybe this is my new favorite?! So fickle.

The bedroom has excellent floors and a nice set of windows. They look better when they’re not covered.

There should be a plate on the wall in every room.

Colonial with a flat screen TV. I wish this TV problem were less pervasive on planet earth. My computer bag makes a rather ugly throw pillow.

Last night when I arrived, French class was well underway. Very nice.

And now to the large (for the Cowper) bathroom. Here is a classic noplasticshowers mirror shot taken through the wall mirror.

Plenty of room, even in the shower.

The shower itself needs a bit of TLC. A new showerhead would probably improve the water pressure situation, and would certainly elevate this shower up the shower food chain. The door needs a whack or two as well.

Shower cube.

Time to go get some breakfast (including epsresso!).

The Cowper retains is well-deserved “best place to stay in Palo Alto” rating of five showerheads.

And here is the Golden Gate bridge.

After the LA hotel debacle, it is nice to be back where I know what’s in store. I have been coming to the Cowper Inn for many many years. Whenever I am in Silicon Valley, chances are I am staying at the Cowper.

This time after a morning arrival and several hours touring Stanford, we checked in mid afternoon. Joji was here to greet us. We are staying in the Carriage House above one of the garages.

Something is always flowering at the Cowper. This time the tree.

The room is large and includes a kitchen settled under a very interesting ceiling. I still like room 28 the best, but this one is just right for this trip.

Kitchen. In which no food is likely to be consumed. We're using most of the outlets though to charge up all of our devices.

Skylights above the day bed.

And the bed too.

The shower situation is standard Cowper. No plastic at least.

The bathroom is hidden away under the eaves.

Early prototype glass shower from the '70s.

You already know the verdict: the Cowper is a five showerheads kind of place. Boy is it nice to be here after LA!

I seem to have made a tradition out of coming to Silicon Valley for the first trip of the year. Exactly one year ago I was here to kick of 2011. It’s nice to be at the Cowper Inn again.

This time I was in my favorite room #28. Pictures here. Not much has changed in the room, though I think maybe the TV is upgraded? I don’t tend to turn those on.

One superb development is that Joji has acquired a top secret espresso machine. That makes my Copwer breakfast complete. It is always fun to meet the interesting people who stay at the Cowper over breakfast. Thanks for that Joji!

A (dark) picture of room 28 from the outside. Beautiful bay window.

Sad news on the mixology front in Palo Alto. Tamarine’s short foray into mixology (via the sazarac) has ended. Gary is no longer on the premises and the bar is back to generic, uninteresting drinks. Alas. The food is still outstanding though, and the wine list is good.

The Cowper is my five showerhead home away from home in Silicon Valley.