Smart Stay by

Smart Stay: The Claremont Club and Spa

by Katie Hammel
Claremont Club and Spa
Claremont Club and Spa / Courtesy of the property
by Katie Hammel
1 of 3
1 of 3
Lobby of  Claremont Club and Spa
Lobby of Claremont Club and Spa / Courtesy of the property
by Katie Hammel
2 of 3
2 of 3
Pool at Claremont Club and Spa
Pool at Claremont Club and Spa / Courtesy of the property
by Katie Hammel
3 of 3
3 of 3

Once a private residence, the Claremont Club and Spa, a Fairmont hotel, sits atop the Berkeley Hills and offers panoramic views of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge. Known as "the white castle on the hill,” the 276-room hotel was built in 1915 and its Club has long been a place for affluent East Bay residents to hit the tennis courts or go for a swim. As a sophisticated, tranquil urban resort, it offers so much more than a standard hotel, with plentiful onsite amenities and a great location just outside the city. 

What You Need to Know

The Look 

It's All in the Details

The Claremont Club and Spa exudes elegance. Enter the sprawling white cupula-topped building to a grand lobby with soaring recessed ceilings, chic leather seating, and fresh flowers at every turn. Palm trees and greenery make the 22-acre property feel lush and secluded, despite its proximity to Oakland and San Francisco. Each room is unique in its layout and design, but all have a soothing color scheme and sophisticated decor, like pale blue walls and Art Deco-patterned wallpaper and carpets, plus cozy furnishings like tufted headboards, plush bedding, and fluffy down comforters. Even the smallest rooms clock in at 240 square feet, and all rooms have Le Labo bathroom amenities, Keurig coffee machines, and oversized soaking tubs in the bathrooms. 

The Vibe

The Claremont is an oasis of calm close to the city—and it’s easy to see why the hotel is a favorite of both celebs and families or academics visiting UC Berkeley. The grounds are secluded and private, but fun touches like live music from the lobby grand piano, live jazz on Friday and Saturday nights, and s’mores kits for roasting over the outdoor fire pits keep things from ever feeling dull. 

Who Will Love It

Discerning tourists who prefer to sleep away from the bustle of San Francisco will appreciate the hotel’s easy access to the city; those with business in Berkeley or Oakland will have an even shorter commute. Guests who’ll make good use of the hotel’s many amenities like the pool, spa, or tennis courts, will get the most value from a stay. 

Who Might Not

Tourists who crave a hotel in the thick of it all might be happier in a downtown hotel, and those who’ll only return to the hotel to sleep may prefer a less expensive hotel without so many onsite diversions. 

Best Amenity 

The Claremont Club and Spa offers so much it’s hard to choose the best amenity, but the top two contenders are hinted at in the hotel’s name. First, there’s the Club, with multiple pools and whirlpools, ten lighted tennis courts, and a fitness center with nearly 100 weekly group classes. The spa is another showstopper. The 25,000-square-foot The Fairmont Spa is a serene retreat where guests can relax in a eucalyptus steam room or saline whirlpool or opt for a hot stone massage, lavender scrub, or other treatment. 

Money Matters

What’s Included

A fee of $35 per night covers amenities including wifi and access to the Club. 

Fees and Extra Costs You Should Know About

Overnight self-parking is $30 per night; overnight valet parking is $35 per night.

How to Get a Deal

Room rates start at around $270 per night for winter midweek stays and rise to around $500 during peak periods. Members of Fairmont’s loyalty program can save 10 percent.

Getting There

In the Neighborhood

Berkeley and Oakland are both home to an incredible array of restaurants, bars, and shops. In Berkeley, splash out at Chez Panisse, where Alice Waters is credited with the creation of what we now call California cuisine. Head to Comal for inventive Mexican, Lemat for traditional Ethipian, or Fieldwork Brewing for local beers. Check out the sprawling UC Berkeley campus or go for a hike in the Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve. 

Nearest Airport

Oakland International Airport is 14 miles south of the hotel, a drive that takes as little as 25 minutes during off periods, and as much as an hour during peak times. A taxi or rideshare will cost $30-$40. Via public transportation, you can take BART to downtown Berkeley (which takes about 40 minutes and costs around $10) and then take a short taxi or rideshare to the hotel. From San Francisco International Airport, the drive will take at least 30 minutes (but likely a lot longer in traffic) or you can take BART across the Bay to the downtown Berkeley station, which will take about an hour. 

Nearest Public Transit

It’s a fair walk to the nearest BART station (Rockridge station is 1.3 miles), so your best bet for public transport is by bus. It’s less than five minutes on foot from the hotel to the stop for bus #79 on the corner of Claremont Avenue and Ashby Avenue. 

The Bottom Line

The Claremont Club and Spa is a historic luxury hotel for the modern age. Quiet and secluded but never stuffy or boring, the hotel offers the perfect mix of plenty to do onsite—between the multiple pools, tennis courts, spa, and two dining options—with easy access to nearby attractions.

It's All in the Details