As an alum of U.C. Berkeley, I've always wanted to stay at the "white castle" on the hill. It certainly wasn't an option as a student, and their rack rates of over $200 per night still don't make it an option for many of us regular working stiffs. However, when we saw a Living Social deal for under $200 for a Spa Elite room, including the $28 overnight parking, $26 facility fee, $50 food and beverage credit and free pre-spa ritual at the renowned spa, we jumped at the springtime deal.
Back in 1916, this grand dame of a hotel with the beautiful San Francisco Bay views had more of a tudor look and style about it. Over the years, she has aged gracefully, and closely resembles the Hotel del Coronado in the San Diego area, with its all-white turrets and towers.
By far, we enjoyed the room the most. It was spacious, quite, well-appointed, and had a lovely sitting area, with three windows and a view of the tennis courts, hotel and bay. The drawbacks were the very spotty wifi, and a cooling system that did not seem to go lower than 68.
By contrast, the exercise facility with its three pools, workout rooms and whirlpool/steam/spa area felt more like a fancy California Fitness, than a urban oasis of a retreat. The area was packed with families and children, a product of the "Claremont Club," which caters to local families in the area. While we applaud that community connection, it does NOT make for a tranquil poolside experience. It also makes it a challenge for a hotel guest even to find a chaise in the sun. Our facility fee was included, but if you've paid $26, I think you really need to have better pool and amenity access. The pool are bar offers $7-8 beers and $10-11 well drinks, and the Bayside Cafe offers cheaper sodas and a few dining options. Too bad, we didn't notice the fourth pool at the lower tennis court area until we were leaving.
We dined at both the Paragon and Meritage restaurants ( see my separate reviews), and did experience the "pre-spa ritual," which is really just a self-governed steam room, shower and whirlpool dip area. The deluge shower is fun, though, and the cucumber ice water and other spa amenities are pleasant. Not worth paying for separate though, we think, especially if you've already paid your $26 facility fee.
Overall, the service everywhere was pleasant and helpful, though the bell people were overwhelmed around check-out time. If you'd like a smaller, lower-key, but still classy, historic setting in the area, you might want to opt for the Julia-Morgan-designed Berkeley Club. If facilities and a retreat-type atmosphere are not that important to you, and you want access to some great food and rooms, style and history, then you'll enjoy the Claremont.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Since 1915, the Claremont has pampered guests at the level expected of a AAA Four-Diamond award winning hotel. With stress melting spa treatments, a wide range of fitness options, special events, live music, and endless culinary delights, you’ll find the Claremont engaging - even if you choose to simply engage in quality time alone. We deliver attentive service with a gracious hospitality casual enough to make you feel right at home. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Claremont Hotel Club Berkeley
- Claremont Hotel Club And Spa
- Claremont Resort Berkeley
- Claremont Hotel Berkeley