As you approach Hotel Valencia in San Jose, California, the first thing you'll notice is that the elegant hotel is surrounded by some of your favorite stores, Kate Spade, Scotch and Soda, Madewell and Anthropologie—to name a few.
You're right in the middle of Santana Row, a luxurious open air shopping center.
Luckily, after valeting the car, the architecture of the Mediterranean-style hotel (old meets new or new meets old? You'll have to find out yourself.) drew me in quickly and I found myself distracted from any spontaneous shopping sprees—for now.
The sleek elevators in the lobby are stenciled out in black and white, giving a good preview of the décor to come!
Stepping into the lobby, the excavated-style ceilings, elaborate chandeliers and sun-drenched courtyard have more of an old world Spain vibe.
It’s almost enough to make you forget you’re in the epicenter of all things tech, but features like hidden Bose speakers in the ceiling and being able to order cocktails off an iPad quickly remind you exactly where in the world you are: Silicon Valley.
After checking-in, we headed up to the 6th floor and were immediately taken back by the guest room's sunny balcony (complete with rustic barn doors) with views of the Santa Cruz Mountains and beyond.
A super comfy king bed complete with fluffy pillows sealed the deal.
The weather in sunny San Jose is a balmy 95 degrees, so a visit to the outdoor rooftop pool is definitely in order.
Not surprisingly, other guests shared the exact same insight. Brilliant minds think alike, right?
The eclectic clientele at the Hotel Valencia Santa Row is an upbeat mix of both families and groups of friends alike. A poolside bar is serving up fresh mojitos and daiquiris—the perfect thirst quencher hits the spot on a hot day.
Should you wish for a little break from the sun, the hotel's VBar on the 3rd floor is a "cooler" option you might say.
After a quick refresh in our spacious guest room, it was time to head down to dinner at the Hotel Valenica Santana Row's signature restaurant, Oveja Negra.
The warm weather meant for a perfect evening dining alfresco in the courtyard, although the contemporary Mediterranean interior was just as tempting.
Our server, Richard, was also the bartender of the evening. He recommended starting off with the “Unruly” Sangria Blanco and the “Cool as a Cucumber” gin spritzer. Cheers!
You won't find appetizers or entrees on the menu—they call the menu selection “unruly tapas.” In other terms, there's no formal way to ordering a tantalizing selection of flavors and dishes from around the globe.
Thankfully everyone starts off with a house dish of shishito peppers in a salsa verde sauce. It’s served in a cast iron dish and topped with melted mozzarella.
It’s delicious and a quintessential taste to start off our meals.
We move on to the “land” dishes next and ordered their signature dish, Oveja Negra Barbacoa.
The presentation of tortillas perched on top of a bone (as we enthralled ourselves into finding every last drop of marrow) and was just beautiful, and the meat was so tender and delicious.
We also tried the Bison Meatloaf Albondigas and loved the tangy combination of fresh ketchup, brown sugar and homemade Worcestershire sauce.
Moving on to the “From the Sea” portion of the menu, our waiter let us know that he had helped the chef create a dish known as “Richard’s Bacon-Wrapped Scallop and Waffles.” Definitely not something you see every day—truly unruly.
A complete gem of a dish, as the spicy maple syrup blended with fresh peach purée knocked it so far out of the ballpark—or should we say San Jose Stadium?
Another stand out was the Thai Kampachi Kifto—check out that presentation!
The yellowtail marinated in lemon juice and a blend of Ethiopian spices was refreshing and an ideal complement to the other heavy dishes we had tried.
The fried cauliflower pakora and cashews in Indian spices such as turmeric and coriander, offered a smoky taste that really popped.
The portions of each dish were so generous and much more than your usual small-plate tapas. Whatever you do, don’t skip out on the “From the Garden” vegetables.
We also loved the summery White Peach and Heirloom Tomato Salad with Mashed Potato Croquettes.
We were finding ourselves so full, but our server convinced us that we couldn't leave just yet without trying the Chocolate S’mores Crème Brulee dessert. OK, just a bite, or two, or three…
Topped off with a tequila espresso cocktail and you have a flawless ending to an amazing dining experience in San Jose, California.
"Oveja negra" translates to "black sheep" and with its creative globally-inspired cuisine, it truly is unruly by design, yet delicious by nature—just as the name implies.
If you’re looking for even more nightlife options, you’ll find Village Wine Bar, and if you skipped Richard’s tequila espresso at Oveja Negra, the El Jardin Tequila Bar, is right around the corner.
I awoke from the incredibly comfortable king bed I mentioned before, not regretting the amazing night of sleep for a second. Time to check out the state-of-the-art fitness center and enjoy some alone time in the beautiful rooftop pool. Could there possibly be a better view to start the day?
I make it back to the room just in time for breakfast room service—fluffy blueberry pancakes, alongside classic Eggs Benedict and complimented by fresh Illy coffee.
Breakfast with a view—what more could you ask for?!
Sadly it's time to checkout, but luckily it's also conveniently when all the stores open on lazy, hazy Sunday mornings. Retail therapy will make me feel just a little better about going home.
So anyway you put it: staycation, shopcation, eatcation or simply vacation, Hotel Valencia Santana Row has all your senses covered. Until next time!