Hermes has just opened its 34th American store, in a town you probably would never have expected. The town in question? Palo Alto, a district located in the heart of the world’s technological behemoth, Silicon Valley.
While relatively known for being the capital of tech start-ups, Palo Alto, is experiencing a boom in its fashion and culinary scene. Especially since Hermes isn’t the only world-renowned brand to set up shop in the tech-forward Palo Alto. Gone are the days where tech entrepreneurs are seen strolling around in plain t-shirts, jeans and sneakers. The past few years have seen a bevvy of luxury boutiques opening up on its tree-lined streets, which are now home to three French giants — Hermes, Louis Vuitton, and Cartier — alongside other names such as Tiffany & Co and Burberry.
Yet, home to some of the most innovative and brightest minds in the world, Palo Alto is an upscale part of the world-renowned Silicon Valley — where you can find some of the most pristine schools in the country (Stanford University included), renowned restaurants, shops, museums, and even the Stanford Theatre, which has established itself as a classic Hollywood movie palace.
Here, where to wine, dine, stay and explore in this underrated part of the Silicon Valley.
The entry to Bird Dog is located in an unassuming storefront off the town’s main drag, flanked by heavy wooden double panels with sleek handles. Walk in, and you’ll be greeted by soft orbs of lighting and sturdy tableware. Following its name, sculptures of colourful birds in various stages of flight appear throughout the dining room — be it on the walls or above the bar.
The menu is made up of fresh fish and subtle flavours, comprised of mostly small, shareable plates, including excellent wood-grilled avocado drizzled with ponzu sauce and fresh wasabi, as well as the comforting faro, cooked to softness and topped with a poached egg, made even bolder by sunflower, miso, and kosho.
Swing a bold and bright glass door in an otherwise nondescript building along Palo Alto’s main thoroughfare open, and you’ll be led into this mystical two Michelin-starred French restaurant. Inside, you’ll find a dining room with a modernist sensibility that shines through its orange-hued walls and fabric room dividers.
One of the most prestigious dining establishments in Palo Alto, Baume is helmed by chef-owner Bruno Chemed, who curates a seasonal imaginative menu, crafted from collective memories, colours and moods. Each contemporary dish is refined, balanced, and demonstrates an enormous attention to details.
Diners can choose from a 6- or 8- course tasting menu, each with wine pairings — with prestigious labels such as the 1988 Château D’Yquem 1St Superior Cru and 1986 Château Lafite Rothschild 1ST Grand Cru Gold.
Gravity Wine Bar
A local favourite, this wine bar in downtown Palo Alto is a restaurant in two parts. The downstairs dining room is a bar area with high tables, an exposed brick wall, and a full bar. Upstairs, it’s quieter, with finished walls, mirrors, low tables, and an intimate mood.
The wine bar and bistro is known for its delicious cheese plates, which you can pair with a drink from their extensive wine list which includes bottles from all around the world at varying price points — be it the full-bodied Spanish Grenache, Muscat-based wines or the less commonly found Madeira. Alternatively, beer, sake and hard liquor are also available. Food highlights include the roasted meatballs in marinara and steak tartare served with quail egg.
Four Seasons Hotel Silicon Valley
Luxury hotel chain Four Seasons’ sole South Bay Area property is nestled in a far stretch, tucked away in a quiet office complex, ideally situated for both business and leisure. After undergoing an extensive renovation which was completed in March 2017, the property now boasts 200 freshly-refurbished rooms which feature a new lush colour scheme, digital art, and a more inviting feel to the cosy space.
The contemporary, light-filled hotel is located within proximity to all the action, such as Palo Alto, the prestigious Stanford University, the vineyards of Los Gatos, and some of the world’s most innovative companies. We’d recommend asking for an Executive Suite in the 02 series for views of both the Santa Cruz Mountains and the sprawling San Francisco city.
The Clement Hotel Palo Alto
For an urban retreat in the tech-forward town, check out The Clement Hotel Palo Alto. The hotel features 23 650-square-foot suites with personal assistants, all-inclusive meals and snacks, as well as a fully stocked guest pantry available around the clock.
Owned by hotelier and former undergraduate at Stanford Clement Chen III, the charming boutique hotel aims to bring luxury to the Silicon Valley. Although intimate, the hotel pays attention to detail, with bedroom suites furnished with accents such as Matouk bed linens, Frette towels, 65-inch Samsung Smart TVs, Nespresso Vertouline coffeemakers, Voss mineral water and Verde bath products made with McEvoy Ranch olive oil.
Computer History Museum
What better museum to visit in the birthplace of Silicon Valley than the Computer History Museum? Established in 1996, the museum preserves and presents the stories and artefacts of the information age, exploring the effects of the computing revolution on society. It houses one of the largest collections of computing artefacts in the world, including computer hardware, ephemera, photographs, moving images, documents, software, and some of the very first computers from the 1940s and 1950s.
Stanford University Campus (Rodin Sculpture Garden)
A place one must experience in Palo Alto is the Stanford University Campus, one of the world’s most prestigious teaching and research institutions in the world. Take a stroll through the campus’ Fredrick Law Olmstead-designed grounds, before stopping at the Romanesque Stanford Memorial Church, and finally, the Cantor Arts Center. As part of its permanent collection, the museum houses the largest Auguste Rodin collection outside of Paris, including 20 works displayed in the adjacent Rodin Sculpture Garden.
The Stanford Theatre, built in 1925, was designed and built in the 1920s as a movie palace styled in neoclassical Persian and Moorish architecture. Today, the classical independent movie theatre specialises in films produced between 1910 and 1970, from silent films noire to lauded blockbusters from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Various genres, directors and actors include Alfred Hitchcock, Bette Davis, and Cary Grant. In fact, the Stanford Theatre is known to account for almost one-fourth of all classic film attendance in the country. During intermissions, moviegoers are also treated to a performance on the famed Mighty Wurlitzer Organ, a theatre organ made by Rudolph Wurlitzer Company.