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Berkeley Bound

The Claremont Hotel in the East Bay

The Claremont
Courtesy Photo

UC Berkeley grads have a secret: Most visitors to the San Francisco Bay area often overlook the hotel options across the Bay Bridge and just 10 minutes away from the city. The Claremont Hotel Club and Spa is the premier property on this side, located in the hills just above Berkeley. A popular meeting place for Cal Bear fans, The Claremont would be a good choice for anyone visiting the area.

The Hotel

The Claremont is a classically designed castle like property that can be seen from all over the Bay area. The car entry allows for easy access to the grand lobby reminiscent of the famous Nob Hill hotels built in the same era. This property is also private club for local residents with pools, tennis courts, and a large fitness center. Our Bay View room looked out to San Francisco and the entire Bay area. All rooms have been recently remodeled to include the finest in furniture, electronics, and bed linens. Bathrooms are oversized to complete the experience.

There are two great dining options right off the lobby area. For fine dining we choose Meritage. This is arguably Berkeley’s finest restaurant taking in many of the commanding views the hotel offers. Chef Scott Quinn has put together a diverse menu complimenting the fresh farm-to-table theme. We started with a small ahi tuna dish that was followed by Alaskan halibut and Sonoma duck. All were expertly prepared and the service was great. The patrons seemed to be a collection of professors, parents, and students all taking a well deserved break from the active campus life. Meritage has a dramatic interior with two story high ceilings, original arches, and a cozy mahogany bar.

The Paragon Bar Restaurant and Bar is a bit more casual but no less popular with local residents. We had an excellent lunch with views to downtown San Francisco. While the food was delicious Paragon is also THE SPOT around here to meet and greet. I can only imagine how busy they get when the Cal Bears have a home game. Visit ClaremontResort.com for complete details.

The Setting

The proximity of The Claremont to campus became an issue in the 1930s when the hotel was prohibited from having an alcohol license. A female student took it upon herself to measure the distance, which turned out to be just over a mile. This recalculation allowed for the opening of the Paragon Bar, which granted the questioning student drinks for life.

We set out one day for a walk around the campus and it is easy to see why UC Berkeley is one of the hardest schools in the country to get into. The campus is set in an upscale neighborhood with commanding views. Just above the campus is a nature preserve that flows into several regional parks. The town of Berkeley is downhill from campus and is a classic college town. Many new shops and restaurants have opened up in recent years as the school continues to prosper.

The Bears

California Memorial Stadium is one of my favorite places to watch football. The facility has been remodeled recently at great expense allowing for better viewing and much more comfortable seating. Where else can you watch some of the best college football in the country and also have a view of the San Francisco Bay. Berkeley really comes to life each Saturday in the fall especially during home games. Probably no other school in the Pacific Coast Conference has this true college town atmosphere.

The Golf

Tilden Park Golf Course is probably the best bet for public access golf in this area. Set in a nature preserve this is a fairly hilly track and most will want to go with a cart. Make sure to always have a windbreaker in the bag as the weather can get quite cool here. Claremont Country Club is a very nice private club just a few minutes away. You will need introductions here. Sequoyah Country Club is a little farther away and a bit easier to get on but you will still need an introduction. All three of these layouts feature tree-lined fairways and sharp doglegs. The conditions were excellent at all three upon this recent inspection.


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