The Fairmont San Jose 170 S. Market St., downtown, (800) 346-5550, (408) 998-1900. 20 stories; 805 rooms; $$-$$$+. Heated pool; 2 saunas; 2 steam rooms; fitness room; full-service spa. 3 restaurants; room service. Valet parking $26.
Built on the site of what was California's capitol building from 1849 to 1851 and then a Chinatown after that, this well-situated luxury high-rise features guest rooms with marble bathrooms and city views.
Three restaurants operate off the lobby: The Grill on the Alley features a clubby ambiance, with dark wood paneling and black leather-upholstered booths; The Fountain serves casual cafe meals and a lavish Sunday brunch;
Bijan Bakery & Cafe offers fine European pastries and sandwiches. Additionally, The Lobby Lounge serves afternoon tea and cocktails and presents live music on weekends. This stylish lounge is open late and has a 70-page cocktail menu that includes 500 kinds of martinis (I found out about this menu too late and ordered a boring Manhattan, but you can ask for it and get something quite special). And you never know who you will run into at The Fairmont. Fellow travel writer Ginny Prior was staying here the same day as I and was surprised to find Snoop Dogg and his entourage in the elevator. One of the group graciously took her picture with the man, and she is still talking, and writing, about it.
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4 top images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers; Snoop Dogg photographer unknown