Spent the weekend in Northern California. Attended the graduation ceremonies at Stanford. My daughter-in-law, Kim received her doctorate in Electrical Engineering. I offered to punch-up her thesis but she said no, it was funny enough. We’re all very proud of her. My dad asked if she could prescribe marijuana.
Needless to say, finding a room anywhere between Gilroy and Daly City on graduation weekend was a chore. The decent places jacked up their rates and were reserved for a year. And since it's Stanford, they charged even more.
So we had to be creative. Looking on line we discovered the Hotel Zico in nearby Mountain View. It was described as a “Mediterranean style boutique hotel.” We like Mediterranean style boutique hotels. So we booked it for the weekend.
The description went on to say it was “nestled in a soothing suburban setting.” That was our first clue that perhaps we were somewhat misled.
The Hotel Zico is right off the 85 Freeway. And by right off I mean, it was practically in the carpool lane. The hotel entrance was poorly marked and tucked behind an on-ramp. So if you turn one minute too soon you wind up on the freeway headed to Los Altos.
The Zico is flanked by this roaring freeway on one side and a giant electrical tower on the other. As for the building itself, perhaps a “Mediterranean style warehouse” might have been more precise.
The clerk at the desk was Wilford Brimley with a long pony-tail twisted to look like a rope extending down to his back. I glanced around warily just to make sure there were no stuffed birds on the desk. I said we didn’t want rooms facing the freeway (Annie was with us). So we were assigned to the electrical tower side. To block that eye-sore, large trees are practically pressed against the side of the building. So there was no light in the room whatsoever. Dracula could have woken up at noon and had the whole day. And to ensure that your room was as dark as a Kentucky coal mine during a lunar eclipse, the bathroom was painted dark blue.
The room had a sickly chemical smell as if they were purposely hiding something. I kept imagining Janet Leigh’s body parts hidden in the walls. The bathtub was filthy and there was one towel for two people. Ants scurried across the desk. Annie’s room key had to be re-programmed seven times.
From the hotel website: “Just 35 miles south of San Francisco puts the best of the bay area’s restaurants, shops, and attractions temptingly close.” A) 35 miles is only close if you’re traveling by helicopter, and B) the attractions that are “temptingly close” are – a Burger King, a Jack in the Box, a tire shop, and a tobacco store.
They boast wonderful amenities. No pool, no Jacuzzi, but a private bocci ball court, and a “mini store” in the lobby, which was two vending machines.
Got back to the room Friday night at 11:00 only to discover that there was major construction going on on the freeway. Jackhammers and drills practically in the room. The walls were shaking. At any moment I expected Janet Leigh’s leg to pop out.
I called the front desk. Wildord assured me they were told whenever there would be construction and they hadn’t received any warning about tonight. So, what, I’m making it up? It’s not really happening? I asked to be moved. He said they were sold out. By the way, I should mention, over a three day period I did not see one other guest, ever.
So these were our sleeping options: Keep the window closed, hear only muffled deafening construction but swelter. Keep the window open and try to sleep with the jackhammers in your ear. Window closed and turn the air conditioning on. The A/C was a wall unit from 1964 that made more noise than the work crew. Or take advantage of one of Hotel Zico’s many fine amenities: ear plugs.
On Saturday night it was the same story. Although this time it sounded like they were dropping giant concrete chunks from a bridge to the ground. Loud teeth-rattling crashes joined the jacks. My wife and I are in bed. She’s trying to read. I’m trying to find the Giants-Mariners game on TV. They don’t carry that channel. HGTV but no Comcast Sports. Another world-class amenity. At 11:00 our room phone rings, startling us. It’s Wilford. Apparently the guest in the room underneath called and complained we were jumping. What the fuck?! She thought the noise from the freeway was coming from our room???
That’s when I put on my shoes, marched downstairs, and went all Sam Kinison on this clerk.
Checked out the next morning. Again, never saw another guest. There was a new clerk at the desk. She made the mistake of asking how our stay was. I ran down the list. She was completely unmoved. No reaction at all. I mentioned I write travel books. Nothing. Let's see when I alert them to this blog post.
So that’s my charming stay at the Hotel Zico. My rating: From 1-10 with 10 being best, I give it a 1. I’d give them a zero but I suppose it’s worth a point that my body parts aren’t now in the walls.
Monday, June 18, 2012
By Ken Levine at 6:00 AM