The Hilton San Jose adjoins the San Jose Convention CenterThere are two hotels directly connected to the San Jose McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California. The San Jose Marriott and the Hilton San Jose.

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to stay several nights in each, back to back. Three nights at the Marriott and two at the Hilton.

Both are very nice, upscale, hotels. Both adjoin the San Jose Convention center and it’s an easy, indoor, walk to get to conferences and meetings inside the convention center.

But after staying in both, one hotel easily stood out as my favorite – the Hilton.

The reason? Mostly it was due to the personalities of the front desk staff. But there were other reasons as well.

At the Marriott, the front desk staff was rather cold. They had an air of superiority. It felt as though they were looking down their noses at the common conventioneers who dare stay at their top notch hotel. It was almost intimidating to ask the front desk for some quarters so I could use their laundry to wash some clothes (traveled light since I was staying in San Jose for a whole week with everything in carry-on bags). The desk staff acted like they had never been asked for change before. Remember the snooty hotel manager in Pretty Woman? Yeh, it was like that (before they warmed up to her).

I interacted with several different front staff during my stay at the Marriott and they all acted that way.

Other staff throughout the Marriott were very friendly. The doormen were always quick to offer a hello and open the door. They seemed happy to provide directions and help out. The maid service was very friendly. Seems strange that friendliness was not reflected at the desk.

During my stay at the Hilton, the front desk (and other staff) were very friendly and gracious. Often said hello as I entered the building. They were quick and helpful with directions. When I needed a microwave to warm up some leftovers (from a meal at the Tandori Oven in San Jose – yum!), they happily said it would be at my room in 5 minutes… and it was. Very pleasant.

The San Jose MarriottWhile at the Marriott, something quite a few of my fellow conventioneers grumbled about was the price of drinks in the vending machines on each floor. $2.75 a can! If you want to have some sodas in your room at the Marriott, either bring your own with you or be prepared to pay through the nose.

The soda machines at the Hilton are pricey as well, $1.50 a can. But you expect a high price at the vending machines at a nice hotel – you just don’t expect to be gouged.

The Hilton also had a better hot tube in the pool area. The Marriott’s was luke-warm with weak jets, whereas the Hilton’s was hot with much stronger jets (and some pretty cool lights on the bottom).

However, if the actual pool is your thing – the Marriott’s is much better. It’s not big, but reasonable. The Hilton’s pool is practically just a single swimming lane.

Besides the pool, the Marriott also comes out ahead with its pantry. Just off the lobby is a small store with essentials (and it’s handy, there aren’t any convenience stores in the area). The Hilton just has a small fridge with a number of drinks and snacks that can be purchased at the front desk.

The Hilton pulled out ahead when it came to business and internet setup. The Marriott’s wifi was very slow (had to connect to their too short ethernet cord to make a decent voip call). The Hilton’s wifi was fast and they have a very nice computer connections panel built into the desk with internet and audio/video ports.

Hilton also wins when it comes to elevator waits. At the Hilton waits were minimal. At the Marriott waits were sometimes quite long.

As for the rooms – they are very comfortable and clean at both places. The beds are nice at both. The Hilton does have very softly lit bathrooms. That was a bit different, but very workable – it wasn’t so dark you couldn’t manage. But I suspect some guests would prefer the option of some bright overhead lights in the bathroom.

Both hotels are both equally convenient to the convention center.

Both hotels are actually very nice – but in comparing the San Jose Marriott and the Hilton San Jose, the Hilton comes out ahead in my book. The staff at the front desk made the biggest difference – but the Hilton won out in a number of less obvious ways as well.

Have you stayed at one or the other of these hotels?

Let our readers know what your experience was like in the comments section below!