Alternative lodgings: This San Jose hotel offers history, charm and maybe ghosts

Do you know the way to San Jose?
I’m going back to find some peace of mind in San Jose …
–Burt Bacharach and Hal David

If you find yourself in fast-paced Silicon Valley over the holidays or for business, the Dolce Hayes Mansion may provide a welcome escape.

The San Jose, Calif., hotel exudes personality. Like history? It has that, too. And the rumors is it’s haunted.

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This stained glass graces the ceiling in the hotel lobby. (Photo by Sheryl Jean)

The glorious grounds include palm trees, an outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts and a large outdoor patio. It’s location in the southeast corner of San Jose still offers easy access to freeways, many tech companies and two parks: one with a playground and one with a mixed-use trail.

The history

The mansion was home to the prominent Hayes family. Matriarch Mary Hayes Chynoweth commissioned the 65-room, 41,000-square–foot Spanish Colonial Revival house, but died just before it was completed in late 1905. Her two sons, Everis and Jay, and their families lived there. Everis was a U.S. Congressman and Jay was involved in state politics. In addition, the brothers owned and operated mines, farms and other businesses, including the San Jose Herald, San Jose Mercury and The Evening News. Those newspapers eventually became the San Jose Mercury News. At one time the Hayes family’s estate covered nearly 700 acres.

Mural Dolce Hays Mansion
This is one of two large murals depicting California landscapes in the hallway behind the hotel lobby. (Photo by Sheryl Jean)

When you walk through the hotel’s main entrance, take note of two old photographs in the vestibule. The one on the left shows the first Hayes mansion, a Victorian affair that burned down in 1899. The one on the right shows the current mansion in 1953. At check-in, make sure to ask for the self-guided walking tour (a brochure) of the mansion.

All of the wood trim in the lobby is mahogany. Just off the lobby is a beautiful library filled with legal volumes serves as a guest sitting area. From the lobby, a marble hallway takes you to other parts of the mansion, passing two wonderful murals (see photo above). More modern art of California landscapes by San Francisco Bay Area artists are in other parts of the mansion and wings.

Inglenook at the Dolce Hayes Mansion

This inglenook is below the grand staircase on the south side of the mansion. The mosaic is made of pieces of marble. (Photo by Sheryl Jean)

The Hayes family’s former sitting room serves as the Palm Plaza Lounge. Two inglenooks below the stairways in the mansion provide a cozy resting spot. The stairways lead to an historic photo gallery on the second floor.

The hotel

The City of San Jose bought the mansion in 1985. A division of Wyndham Hotels & Resorts now operates the 214-room hotel, which includes newer wings besides the main house, a conference center, two restaurants and a fitness center.

The hotel rooms seemed a bit dated, with heavy furniture and dark carpeting that should be replaced. (Was my view colored because I stayed there during gray, rainy weather?) Still, my room in a wing was clean and quiet, with a comfortable bed. You can find rooms priced at just over $100, but consider splurging for a large suite in the mansion (see photo below).

As for the hotel being haunted, who knows?

Note: I recently stayed at the Dolce Hayes Mansion on my own dime.

 

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This is part of the bathroom a three-room suite in the mansion. There’s a separate walk-in shower. (Photo by Sheryl Jean)