Having grown up on the Central Coast, Hearst Castle was always an iconic landmark. Recently when I had a chance to stay overnight at what came to be known as “the Little Castle” (aka the Berkeley City Club) I jumped at the opportunity to experience another of architect Julia Morgan’s uniquely beautiful buildings. As a guest at the hotel, one can wander thru the many rooms and garden areas or take a formal tour if planned ahead of time. I loved the flawless melding of Italian Renaissance, Gothic and Romanesque characteristics. My husband thought the indoor pool was the prettiest one he had ever been in. The fabulous architecture and art are nearly overwhelming and I imagine that one would discover many features and details during each and every visit.
My lodging experience was a very good one, but not quite equal to the building itself. Our room #609 was on the top (6th) floor and at the end of a hall, adjacent to a rooftop terrace where we had views out over the city all the way to the Bay, as well as towards the Berkeley Hills. The sunset was gorgeous from up there!
Our room was small as is the case in many historic hotels, and the queen bed took up much of the floorspace. The bed had a mattress topper which seemed like it might be too soft, but turned out to be comfortable. There were 2 chairs and a small secretary desk in the room, a walk-in closet with plenty of hangers and a luggage rack; telephone and clock radio on one of the nightstands (the clock had a display which strangely wasn’t visible in daylight), and 2 packs of earplugs were on the nightstands--a harbinger of things to come. The flooring was concrete (Julia Morgan utilized that material in all the best ways) and there was a deep-pile Oriental style area rug. Thick, attractive floor-length curtains covered the openable (non-screened) windows. There were only plastic cups in the room and no coffee maker (coffee was available on Lobby level). An old-fashioned radiator provided heat and our room remained at a comfortable temperature throughout what was a rather cold night. Lighting inc’d a ceiling fixture and a lamp on each bedstand, but their bulbs were low-wattage and IMO didn’t provide enough light to read without straining.
The small (but not cramped) bathroom had a nice vintage tiled floor. Since there was no fan, the openable window was appreciated. Other than the window sill and a narrow cabinet, there was no space to stash toiletries/cosmetics. There was only a single small rack to hang towels. A hairdryer was on the wall. The deep, narrow tub/shower had a wrap-around shower curtain. Water pressure was fine, but a comfortable temperature was rather hard to achieve or maintain.
Unfortunately, we had ill timing to arrive on the day when there was an Occupy Oakland demonstration ongoing at UCB (a very short distance away) AND a police action occurring on campus as well. As a result there were 4 news helicopters hovering not far away and they were there for at least 3 hrs. When we got back from dinner they were gone, but then they briefly revisited us about 9 pm. Following the departure of the copters, someone down on street level began yelling methodically for about half an hour. Add that to the din of the traffic and the sounds of the trains, and the noise level ramped up to well above the norm for a city hotel. Altho’ arplugs were set out on each nightstand, I actually ended up not using them since the noise did drop off dramatically by 10 pm. Inside the hotel, all was quiet, but the noise from the outside really did have a negative impact on our stay, and is the only reason that I didn’t give the BCC a higher rating. (If I could have given a 4.5, that would have been more accurate).
A complimentary breakfast buffet was served in the beautiful 2nd floor dining room. The selections were basic but satisfying and inc’d scrambled eggs, bacon, bagels, pastries and muffins, toast, dry cereal, watermelon slices, a variety of juices, coffee and teas. We also had dinner there and we really pleased with the quality of both the service and the food. Their menu was surprisingly creative.
There is a parking lot next to the hotel and altho’ our lodging package inc’d parking, the regular fee is only $12 per night--quite a bargain in the Bay Area!
All hotel staff we encountered were cheerful and friendly, and the pleasant woman at the front desk both at check-in and check-out was extremely helpful in a thorough and unhurried way.
The Berkeley City Club is an exceptionally beautiful historic hotel and offers a very unique, unforgettable lodging experience.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Berkeley City Club was elaborately crafted by architect Julia Morgan. Carved archways, vaulted ceilings, an indoor mosaic tiled swimming, and leaded-glass windows overlooking lush courtyards give the building its unique old world charm. The Berkeley City Club boasts six floors of classically designed standard, junior suite and suite size hotel rooms. Experience breathtaking views from each room, whether its the iconic fog rolling in over the San Francisco bay or the beautiful sunrises over the Berkeley Hills. Enjoy complimentary breakfast, including fresh fruit, toast, bagels, pastries, hard-boiled eggs, oatmeal, yogurt and juice. For entertainment, check out special member events, fitness classes, theater performances, salon services, lounge hours and dining in the restaurant, Julia's or visit local Berkeley attractions just steps away from the Club. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Berkeley City Club Hotel Berkeley
- Berkeley City Hotel