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USA: The Westin San Jose, California

Rhodri Marsden
10 November 2016

This 1920s hotel is gleaming once again, thanks to a thoughtful, no-expense-spared update – and the Art Deco interiors have left Rhodri Marsden planning a return trip

THE LOWDOWN:
Formerly known as the Sainte Claire, this grand dame of a hotel in Downtown San Jose was built in 1926. It’s been through a fair few reincarnations since but is now a Westin and, thanks to a considerate renovation, it is well and truly back on the map.

Admittedly there isn’t a great deal to look at from the outside, but the interior is a glorious, eye-catching collision of marble, dark wood and gold leaf, with plenty of nods to the hotel’s Art Deco heritage. We love the lobby with its huge curved windows and hand-painted, leather-clad beamed ceiling – the perfect setting for cocktail hour.

While much of the Jazz era grandeur has been retained downstairs, my room is more contemporary and probably a little cosy by US luxury hotel standards (ditto the lift). And yet it feels distinctly high-end, with only a slightly noisy air-conditioning system to detract from the luxury.

Service at the front desk is charming and the impeccable attention to detail extends to the adjoining restaurant, Il Fornaio; here, the upmarket Italian cuisine is excellent, with delicious antipasti, homemade pastas and a dessert menu, which will keep even the sweetest of toothed satiated. It’s a great spot for dinner, although perhaps a little pricey for a breakfast option.

The hotel is directly opposite the central Plaza de César Chavez – a huge public space in the city, which hosts live music, cultural events, fairs and the official city Christmas tree. A mere stroll away are the convention centre (if you’re here on business), the San Jose Museum of Art, theatres, and all the restaurants and bars you could wish for on Santana Row.

THE GOOD:
Although Downtown is on your doorstep, you won’t feel too crowded staying here.

The distinctly friendly welcome.

THE NOT-SO-GOOD:
The hotel’s position, on the junction of two main roads, can make it feel a tad noisy on the lower floors.

Parking can be a headache; if you’re coming and going with any regularity, the $39 valet charge is probably worth taking advantage of.

THE VERDICT:
A landmark hotel restored to its former glory, in the heart of San Jose.

BOOK IT:
302 South Market Street, San Jose, California 95113, USA (+1 408 295 2000; westinesanjose.com).