Friday, July 21, 2017

80 North: Berkeley, Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel


Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel  41 Tunnel Rd., at Ashby Ave./Domingo Ave.  9 stories; 276 rooms.  3 heated pools; hot tub; 4 saunas; 2 steam rooms; full-service spa; fitness room; ?10 tennis courts (fee; 6 with night lights).  4 restaurants; room service.  Resort fee $28/night.  Pets ok.  Parking fee.  Built originally by a Kansas farmer who struck it rich and wanted to fulfill his wife’s dream of living in a home resembling an English castle, the first incarnation of this hotel burned to the ground in 1901.  The current Victorian hotel, built in 1915, once charmed architect Frank Lloyd Wright into describing it as “. . . one of the few hotels in the world with warmth, character and charm.”  The hotel was rebranded to Fairmont in 2015 and has been redecorated in a tasteful contemporary style accented with contemporary art.

check-in desk at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
check-in desk at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California

The lobby has an assortment of conversation areas, and a sabre bottle opening of Champagne is held there every afternoon.  Just off the lobby, the Lobby Lounge and Bar offers the hotel’s famous views along with live music, while the colorful adjacent Hillary Tenzing Room celebrates the first climbers to summit Mt. Everest--Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay--and serves afternoon tea on weekends.   A brand new amenity is Edie, the Canine Ambassador.  She hangs out in the lobby by the check-in desk, welcoming people as only a sweet dog can (she’s a Boxer mix and was formerly at the Fairmont Pittsburgh).  A free 30-minuted Art and History Tour is available by appointment.

lobby seating at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
lobby seating at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California

entertainment in the Lobby Lounge and Bar seating at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
entertainment in the Lobby Lounge and Bar seating at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California

Hillary Tenzing Room  at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
Hillary Tenzing Room at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California

Edie, the Ambassador Canine at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
Edie, the Ambassador Canine at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California

The hotel now provides all the amenities of a resort, but in an urban setting.  Some guest rooms boast a Jacuzzi tub for two and views of San Francisco, others have charm from the past—a deep closet here, a vintage tub there.  Some rooms have soaking tubs, and the go-for-broke Tower Suite includes a private roof deck with stunning views.

view from guest room at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
view from guest room at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California

guest room bed at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
guest room bed at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California

guest room bathroom at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
guest room bathroom at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California

The hotel’s pools and hot tub are surrounded by several long rows of chaise lounges--looking like something out of sunny Southern California or Hawaii, but certainly not Berkeley.  The basement spa features a whirlpool with a view of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge, a therapeutic “deluge” shower, 32 treatment rooms, and a hair and nail salon.  The resort fee covers guest use of the wet facilities (saline whirlpools, saunas, eucalyptus steam rooms).  The Club offers a fitness center with classes, tennis courts, swimming pools, and the casual Bayview Cafe (B-L daily).  Additionally, the Kids’ Club provides childcare and holiday camps.

spa whirlpool at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
spa whirlpool at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California

view of The Club at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
view of The Club at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California

The romantic, upscale Meritage (B daily, D W-Sat, SunBr) offers refined steak and seafood dishes, enhanced with an extensive selection of wines.  Comfortable chairs invite sitting back and enjoying the spectacular bay view as well as the dramatic high-ceilinged interior dining room.  Sunday brunch is an extravagant buffet of salads, fresh fruit, seafood, and meats.  It includes a design-your-own-omelette station and a dessert table laden with fine cakes, chocolate ├ęclairs, chocolate fondue, and several flavors of mousse. 

view from Meritage at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
view from Meritage at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California

The more casual, bistro-style Limewood Bar & Restaurant (L-D daily)  also offers a great bay view plus seating in the entry bar, outside on an expansive terrace, and inside in booths and at an assortment of tables--including one long communal table with a view of the open kitchen.  The menu is short and changes regularly.  Dinner begins with superb chewy-crusted sourdough bread from the local Acme bakery https://weekendadventuresupdate.blogspot.com/search?q=Acme+Bakery,  It is possible to make a light dinner of just the canapes, think Devils on horseback (Medjool dates, blue cheese, pancetta), scallion-cheddar hushpuppies with honey butter, fried eggplant rounds with green goddess dressing.  We enjoyed our selections with cocktails--me, a colorful and thirst-quenching Tequila-based Kumquat Smash, and he, a classic Southern rye-absinthe Sazerac.  Appetizers include a very green, dill-dominated chilled cucumber gazpacho, and a fresh and light sprouting broccoli salad with burrata and delicious, crispy toasted shallots.  For our mains, my dining partner had tasty roasted wild ling cod with asparagus and caramelized onions, while I had a somewhat disappointing chicken with seaweed butter and baby turnips (I was expecting a bone-in chicken, but it was breast slices arranged haphazardly atop each other and was in desperate need of some mashed potatoes).  Sandwiches and a burger are available at lunch (the house Grass-fed Beef Burger is also available from the bar menu and by request during dinner service).  Our colorful strawberry shortcake with Bourbon-soaked berries was a choice ending.  


bar at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
bar at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California


terrace at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
terrace at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California

oyster bar at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
oyster bar at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California

Kumquat Smash cocktail at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
Kumquat Smash cocktail at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California

Sazerac cocktail at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
Sazerac cocktail at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California

canapes at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
canapes at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California

cucumber gazpacho at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
cucumber gazpacho at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California

broccoli-burrata salad at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
broccoli-burrata salad at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California

wild ling cod at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
wild ling cod at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California

chicken with seaweed butter at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
chicken with seaweed butter at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California

strawberry shortcake at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California
strawberry shortcake at Limewood Bar & Restaurant at the Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley, California

More things to do in Berkeley.

Way more thing to do in Berkeley.  

Here are some travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

images ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

7 comments:

  1. I remember when it used to be really nice. Now it is tacky tacky. And those people...

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  2. Thx for the heads-up about this hotel, Carole. I never met a Fair omt hotel that I didn't like, so I'm sure I'd love the one in Berkeley.

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  3. It looks beautiful, Carole - a real urban oasis. I love the idea of a dog on staff to pet and the cucumber gazpacho at the Limewood Bar & Restaurant looks delish!

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  4. The hotel looks so luxurious and beautiful! With so many features it is certainly understandable why you loved it too!!

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  5. Wow, I love the art in this hotel! The cuisine at the Limewood looks incredible too

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  6. A hotel that has enough art and history for its own tour - the Claremont sounds like my sort of place! Food looks good too.

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  7. We love staying at the Fairmont properties. They always take such good care in everything they do. I'd love that oyster bar and burrata dish.

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