Saturday, 20 March 2010

Travel Bite #4: Hotel Avante, Mountain View

I'm currently spending a couple of days relaxing in the Bay Area after attending the Cloud Connect conference. Usually I'd write about places I've been and sights I've seen, but I thought for a change I'd blog about the hotel I am staying in - Hotel Avante in Mountain View. I got my stay here through the cheap hotel site hotwire, for a very reasonable $59 (39GBP) a night. One of the things about Hotwire is you get cheap prices but you don't find out the hotel until after you book (by area) - so I would never have known about this place - but boy am I glad I did. It's probably the best hotel I've ever stayed in!

So, what makes this hotel so special? The first thing you notice is the lobby, with comfortable sofas, reading tables stacked with copies of Time and Wired (this is Silicon Valley after all).

There is a sort of postmodern ambience about the place - retro typewriters and old cameras nestle alongside light orbs and funky modern art. The elevator doors are even a work of art in their own right.

I checked in and was very impressed on entering my hotel room. I flipped on the light switch by the door and was pleased to see a centre ceiling light which really illuminated the whole room - none of this running around the room to switch lamps on like most dingier hotel rooms.

And then I saw the desk... It has two glass panels to see into the drawers below. One drawer contains stationery and practical items.

The other is chock full of "executive toys" - a Slinky, an Etch a Sketch, some transparent playing cards, a Rubik's cube.

The hotel notepad says "IDEAS" over the top, with a stylized human brain. As someone who likes to get creative and innovative, I love this!

Everything about the room has been carefully thought out. There are two surge-protected power strips, so none of the usual contest for sockets.

The bedside table has a recessed area right by the pillow holding another ideas pad - perfect for late night inspiration or dream recording! 

I've been here over 24 hours now, and I'm still discovering new things.. A shelf in the cupboard contains some stick magnets and ball bearings to play with.

A hi-fi with a library of CDs you can borrow from the front desk. Toothbrush and toothpaste provided. The bedside table, as well as the requisite Holy Bible, contains a torch/flashlight and emergency flare - how random! The hotel TV is HD, and swivels around so you can watch it while working at the desk.

Speaking of which, the wi-fi is complimentary and fast. In fact there are four different wi-fi networks to choose from! This includes Google's free wide area wi-fi network serving the whole of Mountain View. We are in the home of the Googleplex here!

There is a great little outdoor swimming pool and hot tub/jacuzzi.

And a fitness room, and a relaxation lounge.

The bed is a very comfortable king-size, with more cushions and pillows than you could ever wish for. Every evening there is a complimentary happy hour bar, and the hotel lobby has a wine rack and every room has a corkscrew - no need to go out for supplies! This morning I had breakfast, which was a buffet with everything I could have wished for - eggs, sausages, bacon, pancakes, fresh fruit, bagels, toast, yogurts, cereals, pastries, juices & hot drinks. And what's more - it's free! This is almost unheard of in the US in my experience - most free breakfasts are continental and most cooked breakfasts cost extra.

The hotel is well located too - with plenty of stores, restaurants and bars in walking or driving distance along the road - the hotel is located on El Camino Real. And there's plenty to see in the area.. Silicon Valley, NASA Ames Center, the Computer History Museumthe Star Trek exhibition at The Tech in San Jose, Stanford University, and lots of great open spaces and countryside.

So why is this hotel so good? There is a sign outside the elevators with the hotel motto - they aim for your stay to be "Better than Expected".
And trust me, it really was! This is a great example of applying "Made to Stick" principles - making a clear, concise message for the employees to hold on to.

You can see some more photos at a higher resolution on my Flickr page.

Here's some more links to find out more:

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