The French Hotel is centrally located in the strip of great restaurants along Shattuck Ave in Berkeley, just across the street from the landmark Alice Waters destination restaurant, Chez Panisse. The hotel is reasonably priced and quite comfortable, with a NYTimes carrying newstand across the street, and a superior cafe with excellent coffee and pastries to start your day. If you want a more refined and extensive breakfast/brunc, we recommend La Note, further south toward the university on Shattuck, its beautiful garden a great place to enjoy California weather and cuisine. There is also a large supermarket, Andronica's, next door to the hotel, a Bank of America a few doors down the other way, and a large drugstore about two blocks away ( a new Walgreens opening soon even closer) among the many conveniences nearby the hotel.Just a block away is Cheeseboard, a pizza destination, which also carries a huge selection of cheeses, cured meats and pates, olives, breads and rolls to add to your AM and lunch list of must places to go. A New York Style Delicatessen, Saul's, is only a block away.
We went to Chez Panisse on this trip and more recently again this summer, first dining in the main dining room, and also in the cafe which is a bit less expensive but just as wonderful. The food and service are both extraordinary, and the selection of wines complements the high standard set by this excellent restaurant.
There is another great eating and shopping area in West Berkeley known as the 4th street area with some fabulous restaurants ( O Chame is our favorite splurge), and the nearby wonderful Indian eatery, Viks.
We recommend too a short trip to northern Oakland, just past southern Berkeley to try the markets and restaurants around the most widely known one in the area, Olivetto.
My favorite thing to do is to browse through the great variety of bookstores (Black Oak is my fave but there are many).
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.