Monday, November 4, 2013

Hotel Review: Hotel Paradox, Santa Cruz

Slate showers with cobblestone
shower pans were part of the eco-friendly
design.
Rating: ****1/2

The recently remodeled Hotel Paradox in Santa Cruz, CA is a major winner. Before I get into the review, I want to say that overall I've always found the city of Santa Cruz to be slightly grungy and prefer Capitola just a few miles up the road. Santa Cruz has a rundown quality that can't quite match up to its sister coastal cities like Capitola, Monterey or Carmel. At the same time, it offers a fun shopping area in the downtown and is center to many activities. Wanting to try something different than tried-and-true favorites, I spotted Hotel Paradox online on Expedia that had a great offer for $180 a night, which is not the standard rate, which is closer to $250 to $450 per night. Taking the last-minute offer, I booked a room based on the room pictures that showed an enticing, clean and well-decorated room.

The gamble paid off. The redone 1950's-style hotel had been renovated to what I'll call eco-chic or environmentally friendly decor. From the giant redwood check-in desk to the branch-like artwork and cobblestone shower pans. It was a post-modernist design that reflected the geological and natural features of the coastal area and redwood forest. Beautifully redone with a lovely pool area and elegant restaurant called Solitaire, I adored this hotel. The restaurant offered breakfast, lunch and fine dining for dinner. I will say one thing not to be missed is the clam chowder. Impressively flavored with artisan touches, the soup came fresh with each individual bowl loaded with clams still in the shells, crunchy celery and potatoes with a few bits of bacon to pop the flavor. I have never enjoyed such savory and fresh clam chowder anywhere else, and the restaurant should be given props for its incredible top-sirloin steak and calamari -- both just as excellent in flavor and taste.

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