Sac Historic House Profile: The Claremont Hotel & Spa

Nestled in the green hills of Berkeley, overlooking the expanse of the bay and San Francisco beyond, stands the historic Claremont Hotel. Built in 1915, the landmark hotel/resort has long been a favorite of bay area residents and visitors from further afield. It has the look and feel of an old world spa – the kind of place where, as my husband put it, James Bond would go for a little rest and relaxation. Famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright called the Claremont “…one of the few hotels in the world with warmth, character and charm.”

We were lucky enough on our recent visit to stay in one of the hotel’s newly refurbished Pure rooms. The Pure rooms were designed to create an almost allergen-free guest experience and I could definitely tell the difference in our room. The mattress and pillows were encased in hypoallergenic bedding and an air filter hummed along in the corner of the room, keeping the air noticeably fresh.

According to Bruce Carlton, the Claremont’s General Manager, “From the spa to the health club, to now our guest rooms, it is important that we continue to invest in our guest’s overall well-being.” I think we as travelers are going to see more and more hotels going in this direction, especially older hotels which really do have to work harder to keep their rooms from looking (and frankly, smelling) worn out.

Our spacious and comfortable room (#254) had a breathtaking sunset view of the Bay Bridge and San Francisco. The bed was high and in great condition and the jacuzzi tub in the bathroom hit the spot after an afternoon of shopping.

The Claremont recently opened a new restaurant called Meritage. From what I could tell from the old photos in the lobby, the restaurant is where the old Garden Room used to be. I think my aunt has mentioned visiting the Garden Room when she was a young woman – perhaps she was lucky enough to see a big band leader like Count Basie, who once played the room.

The Meritage dining room is sophisticated and yet still comfortable, like the rest of the hotel. And the large windows give diners a panoramic view. We didn’t end up eating there but we did have a couple of well-made drinks in the cozy bar. The bar was just my sort of place with wing-backed armchairs, book cases and wood paneling – oh and a piano! The pianist (George, I think) was excellent, filling the room with jazz standards and even a bit of ragtime.

The Claremont Hotel is relaxing, elegant and filled with old school charm. If you go, be sure to check out all of the gingerbread houses placed around the hotel – a perfect touch for the holidays.

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