Review – Hotel Valencia – San Jose, California – VIP Treatment

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The Hotel Valencia has large banners that stream down its façade. These banners are not just proclaiming this upscale hotel but also helping people know that exists. Located above retail and restaurant space in San Jose’s equally upscale Santana Row shopping area, the hotel staff still hear people all the time saying. “I didn’t know there was a hotel here”. That’s a shame because the hotel is worth discovering.

My wife Joan and I had the chance to have dinner during our recent stay at the Hotel Valencia with the, appropriately named, Bonnie Best the hotel’s General Manager. Bonnie has been here since before the opening of this hotel now 10 years ago. In addition to talking about our shared love of travel, we talked about the challenges of running an elegant hotel in today’s market. The hotel is not currently including a dinner with Bonnie with every stay, (although I think it is an option they should consider) but Bonnie and her staff will treat you like a VIP in any case.

I appreciate that unlike some of their competitors once you have paid for a room they include the cost of free parking (valet parking is also available), wi-fi, and even breakfast. These are amenities I think all hotels in the luxury category (rooms start at around $300 a night) should include but usually don’t. They also don’t charge the resort fee that some hotels in their class like to throw on my bill to my surprise and anger.

We had dinner at the hotel’s Citrus Restaurant where the wonderful food and wine paired perfectly with our delightful conversation. I had the char crusted flatiron steak with aligot potatoes and a Worcestershire based sauce which was wonderful. Joan had the risotto, which while more pasta based than rice based, was delicious. I also really enjoyed the 3 onion soup. I won’t claim to be enough of a wine connoisseur to critique their wine list. We sampled two different desserts, freshly made donuts with cream and chocolate sauces and an almond-based cake. I will deny eating either one as they were definitely not on my diet. I do have to ask whose bright idea it was to include desserts like than and a working scale in our room?

Citrus opens up on an interior patio sheltered from the hustle-bustle and noise of a busy night at Santana Row. Because of the numerous restaurants in the area, Friday night in Santana Row is a happening place. You get a combination of people dressed in California casual and others dressed to impress. The former should know that Valencia’s popular and swanky Vbar does have a dress code that draws the line at casual and does not allow the tank top and cut-offs crowd.

The quieter Cielo rooftop wine bar is more my speed but possibly because I’m just not cool enough for the VBar. The pool at Valencia is also on the rooftop near the 5th-floor fitness center.

Bonnie told us that a major renovation of the hotel will be beginning soon, not I think it needs it. The darker style of the rooms and hallways will be dramatically changed. I’m curious to see the difference. The only thing I won’t miss is the Viking funeral style ships in the main lobby.

We stayed in one of the more deluxe rooms suites on the 7th floor with a balcony overlooking Santana Row where we could look down… physically… on the crowds below.

We were treated to our stay at the hotel and our dinner at the restaurant. I am not so much disclosing that fact as simply bragging 😉

by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast, and a co-host for This Week in Travel podcast.

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