When you drive on Highway 24 toward the East Bay, you can’t help but notice the Claremont Hotel, an urban luxury resort in Berkeley, California. The castle on the hill is striking, especially at sunset. I’ve had a crush on this grand dame of a hotel since I was a little girl, growing up in Oakland. My grandparents belonged to the Claremont Club & Spa before it became a Fairmont hotel.
Claremont Hotel Urban Luxury Resort
The history of the Claremont Hotel dates back to the Gold Rush days. Originally a private residence, William Thornburg, a Kansas farmer, purchased 13,000 acres to build his wife a castle on a hill. After his wife died and his daughter married and moved to England, Thornburg sold the Claremont to the Ballard family. On a hot July day in 1901, the castle caught fire and burned to the ground. Only the horse stables survived the fire.
After the fire in 1901, Borax Smith and Frank Haven won the Claremont property in a high stakes checkers game at a billiard room that used to be down the street. In 1915 Havens and the Claremont Hotel Company opened the property.
Claremont Club & Spa
Recently, the Claremont Club & Spa finished a $24 million renovation and re-opened the new Clubhouse in February 2019. Now boasting a state-of-the-art Mind & Body Center, Group Exercise Studio, Indoor Cycling Studio, Yoga/Kinesis Studio, and Family Locker Rooms the Claremont Club is a boon to Fairmont hotel guests. With over 90 classes per week to chose from, guests of the hotel may utilize three heated swimming pools, 8 outdoor tennis courts, use the fitness center and even meet with a personal trainer – additional fees may apply.
The 276 room Fairmont hotel has the unique position of having a presence in both Berkeley and Oakland, California. The front entrance of the hotel is situated in Oakland, while the hotel entrance by the Claremont Club & Spa carries the Berkeley address.
My bayview deluxe room, #548, with a king bed offered a view of the Bay Bridge and San Francisco. While the price of this room varies, rates range from $329 to $500.
One of my favorite things about this hotel stay was the Kipsu messaging system. A breeze to set up, a member of the front desk will text you to confirm you are online and the fun begins. It’s like having your own private butler.
“How may we be of assistance Ms. Brown?” “I’d love some more of the Bella Coola Punch Lot 35 organic herbal tea,” I text and magically, multiple tea bags appear in minutes at my door. To me, that’s the Fairmont touch. The Claremont became a Fairmont hotel in 2016 and it shows from the down pillows to the signature Le Labo Rose 31 bathroom amenities.
I also love the fact that all Fairmont hotels are pet-friendly. Perhaps you’ll have a chance to meet Ozzie, a lab mix that gives wet kisses freely.
Breakfast is served daily at Limewood Restaurant. There’s fresh coffee and pastries available at the grab and go counter inside Limewood restaurant, in addition to a sit down breakfast. Of course, you can always order room service.
My husband and I had the pleasure of dining at Limewood Bar & Restaurant during sunset. Executive Chef Joey Hattendorf prepared Hamachi crudo, Wagyu beef cheek rigatoni and a roasted filet of sea bass with bok choy, oyster mushrooms, crispy ginger and lemongrass in a deliciously flavorful broth. Since my entree was healthy, I splurged on the Marcona almond chocolate torte for dessert.
Champagne sabering ceremony
Don’t miss the nightly champagne sabering ceremony held in the Claremont hotel lobby. You’ll receive a complimentary glass of bubbly and who doesn’t like that?
Hat tip to Executive Pastry Chef AJ Thalakkat for his decadent handmade chocolate bars and a Berkeley trail mix bar that rocks with flavor. I’m told that he creates a killer chocolate display over the December holidays.
The Fairmont Spa at the Claremont
A Forbes 4-star spa, the Fairmont Spa has 32 treatment rooms. I got to experience the Tibetan Sound Vibration, 75 minutes of pure bliss. For someone who takes awhile to turn off my “to do” list in my head, the experience of singing bowls placed on different areas of my body, along with the vibrations, created a sense of calmness, combined with an awesome massage. I recommend arriving early to the spa to take advantage of the steam room, saline Jacuzzi and saline deluge waterfall shower – a warm water neck and shoulder massage.
The Claremont Spa is on the list to receive the Fairmont VIP treatment as soon as renovations are approved. This should take place within the next year. I’ll be anxious to return to the spa after renovations; if it’s anything like the Club renovation, it will be worth the wait.
Need to know:
Rates range from $279 – $359 per night depending on the season. All rooms include complimentary internet.
The Claremont does charge a $35 per day resort fee. Resort fee includes the daily Sip & Savor champagne Sabering in the lobby, wireless internet, access to saline lap pool, recreation pool and children’s pool, swim training gear, access to dry sauna and the outdoor saline whirlpool. Three hours of child care at the Kids’ Club for one child is available to guests, as well as spa visitors. For the newspaper and magazine readers, the resort fee provides guests access to PressReader digital newspaper app. Additionally, hot tea and coffee are available at The Club. A selection of board games and cards is available at the front desk. Finally, guests receive 3 hours of unlimited local telephone calls.
The Fairmont hotel offers AAA, AARP and CAA discounts and is a pet-friendly hotel.
The Claremont offers self-parking for $30 per night, including in and out privileges. Overnight valet parking is $35 per night. Daily parking fees are charged by the hour. Maximum self-parking fee is $30.
Check in: 4:00 p.m.
Check out: 12:00 p.m.
If you enjoy Afternoon Tea, you don’t have to drive to San Francisco to experience high tea. I love the Fairmont Hotel teas, having been introduced to Afternoon Tea at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. Advance reservations are recommended for Afternoon Tea. For additional insider tips follow luxury travel writer @Nancydbrown on Twitter or Instagram @Nancydbrown and the Claremont on Instagram @FairmontHotels.
If You Go:
Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel (510) 843 3000
41 Tunnel Road
Berkeley, California 94705
Claremont Hotel Urban Luxury Resort review, YouTube video and all photography, except top photo, by travel writer Nancy D. Brown. As is typical in the industry, I received a complimentary media stay, however, all opinions are my own.