I added another notch to the loop of my Fairmont belt. This time it was at the historic Claremont Club & Spa in Berkeley. Occasionally, the Fairmont does offer some pretty spectacular deals. At the time of my booking, they happened to be providing a fantastic stay one night receive one free offer. It seemed just too incredible to pass up. I have no ties to Berkeley or the Fairmont properties. So, I will gladly provide my unbiased opinion of both. Going into the stay, I just spent the last couple of days at Yosemite National Park and the Relais & Chateau Property Chateau du Sureau. I hate to admit this stay seemed like the less exciting portion of the trip. In the end, I think this property made an impression. With that, there were pluses and minuses. Read below to help make your decision.
I made the drive from Yosemite National Park on Friday afternoon into the Claremont Club arriving around 7pm. The attendant greeted me asking whether I was there for the club, restaurant, or the hotel. So, much like the Telluride Fairmont property that offers timeshares, this property offers club access to their “club” which includes tennis, pool, and fitness. If living in the area, this seems like a luxury not to miss out on. I entered the parking lot after a long drive ready for a slow and simple evening. A nice bonus was finding out there was free self parking. For me, the outside structure was definitely somewhat reminiscent of the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego. This was perhaps because of the ability of this property to stand the test of time. It is just fantastic seeing photos of the property from 1906 in all of its glory described as “the beautiful spot in California”. Not to mention, in present day, it still seemed pretty glorious. The inside was fully updated with modern decor but the history was still alive through numerous photos spread throughout the hotel.
The check in process was rather seamless, and I was upgraded to a bay view. Typically, I would prefer a higher floor, but my room on the 4th floor provided a breathtaking view. I arrived just in time for sunset the first evening. If a view is important to you, this is one place to splurge. My room was 444 and offered views all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge off in the distance. In front of me you could also see the tennis courts and club entrance. The room size was rather spacious although the bathroom was much smaller. There was a small sitting area with a table and loveseat. Amenities in the room included the usual Le Labo Rose 31 bath products and their comfortable robes. The room itself was very consistent with the product the Fairmont offers. However, without the view, I don’t know if my sentiments would be reflected in the same way. Bottom line, the property is pricy. And, everyone wants to feel like they got what they paid for. It would be worth doing research for a reasonable fare before booking. With a deal like the one I received, it is worth the stay. Some places are worth the high price of admission, but there may be better options than the Claremont for the price.
If you are a rewards member, there are a few advantages dependent upon your status level. I received the usual drink tickets with my welcome amenity, this time a coffee and pastry in Eastside Provisions, a café located on the first floor. Eastside Provisions is open until 2pm daily and, in addition to the typical coffee and pastries, they also have bottles of wine for sale. Also on property, their Limewood restaurant is a great place for a cocktail at sunset. Their outdoor patio or one of their tables by the window offers panoramic views on a clear day. In the area, there are a number of restaurants within a short walking distance along with other activities. Personally, I would leave Limewood for drinks and appetizers only (oysters and shishito peppers were both excellent!), so you can explore more of the endless restaurant options close by. Upon check in, they provided easy instructions to a website with their recommendations for food in the area. I will mention some of the restaurants we tried below. Fairmont also gives you access to a variety of guided walks and hikes of all different lengths and difficulty levels. I decided to do the walking tour up Claremont Blvd that took me around the Berkeley campus. This is an easy walk or run 3.7 miles in length with a lot of great scenery. For something more strenuous, there is the hike or run up Skyline Ridge to Grizzly Peak. This is slightly longer at 4.6 miles roundtrip. Both of these routes can be found in the RunGo app along with others of varying distances.
Some of the amenities on the property include a contemporary health club, tennis courts, swimming pool, and the spa. I started my first morning in the health club. Their cardio and weight equipment was all Technogym. The cardio equipment had one wall overlooking the tennis courts with large windows. This provided some entertainment to watch the tennis games and lessons. Also, most of the cardio equipment has a TV to watch anything of your choice. Although I play tennis, I regret that I did not rent a court during the stay. There are 10 lighted courts on property. They do have a ball machine if you are solo and just want to hit some balls. Their pool is rather large and they do have an additional lap pool located in a different area on the property. Finally, I will include a link to learn more about their spa services here https://www.fairmont.com/claremont-berkeley/spa/fairmont-spa/.
I want to include some of the places that I tried in the area and enjoyed. The first night I drove to Gather to pick up takeout. I tried the seasonal grain bowl, spicy tomato pizza, and sweet & spicy cauliflower. The pizza was unique with olives, capers, cashew puree, and their house made tomato sauce. It was really tasty and a little spicy. Probably my favorite choice here was the seasonal grain bowl. It was delicious! I took the food to go, and it was cold when I arrived back at the room. Treat yourself by eating in the restaurant versus the to go option. The remainder of the restaurants I tried were all ones that were within walking distance of the hotel, some a little further away than others. If possible, I always like to walk places to explore the area more. For lunch, I tried Baker & Commons. This is a really cute breakfast or lunch spot. Here, I tried the brussels sprouts salad and the curried chicken sandwich. You can’t go wrong with either of these choices. They also have house made sodas as well. I thought the mint soda was fantastic and really flavorful. Another dinner option I tried was the Italian restaurant Donato & Co. Trying to narrow down the menu here to make a decision was actually really challenging. There were many standout options. Ultimately, I tried the tonnarelli, tortelli, gamberi, and arancini. Check out their website https://www.donatoandco.com/menu-3 for the breakdown of all these options. My favorites were gamberi and arancini. The last couple of places that I have to mention are Philz Coffee and U-Cha. Maybe I am completely out of the loop, but I have never tried or heard of Philz before. They have stores in California, DC, and Chicago. You can buy their coffee online, but they have a menu of featured creations. I tried the Iced Mint Mojito and loved it. It was super unique, and the taste was great. If I lived near, I would go every day. Very dangerous. Finally, U-Cha has Taiwan tea. One of their signature drinks the Bomber Man is definitely indulgent. All of the reviews mentioned this drink, so I had to try it. As you might imagine, everyone was right and Bomber Man is the way to go. The Rose Milk Tea was also tasty, but the Bomber Man was the stand out.
The Claremont Club & Spa is a pleasing place to stay in the Berkeley area with an iconic look. I think this lends itself to be a great weekend trip. I stayed two nights, and I thought it was plenty of time to enjoy the area in addition to the resort itself. Working full time, I think finding the spots that you can spend a relaxing weekend and feel like you got away are key. This is a weekend trip that I would not mind making again, if the fare was right. Receiving a promotion on booking probably influenced my point of view on the property. Without the right price, I would not repeat my trip.