On the day it finally opened in 1915, the Claremont Hotel was the largest hotel on the Pacific Coast. With 279 guest rooms, almost pure white paint, a roughly 14-story flag-adorned tower, lavish landscaping, and spectacular views of the entire San Francisco Bay, the Claremont Hotel Club + Spa is still one of the East Bay's most iconic historic structures.
Situated between Berkeley and Oakland (the hotel actually technically sits within Oakland but has a Berkeley address), the site of the 22-acre resort was originally part of gold rush tycoon Bill Thornburg's 13,000-acre estate. After the English-style castle he built burnt to the ground in 1901, the property fell into the hands of "Borax" Smith and Frank Havens. Historical accounts suggest that Smith, Havens, and another local businessman wagered the entire property in a game of checkers, and Havens won. With his Claremont Hotel Company, Havens began construction of a new hotel in 1905, but it ultimately took 10 years to build after being slowed down by the 1906 earthquake and the Panic of 1907 the next year. Built in conjunction with the Key System, the East Bay's original trolley service, the hotel boasted a direct trolley line from the lobby doorsteps to downtown San Francisco.
Over the years the ownership of the hotel has changed countless times, and the building has been the source of fantastic tales.* While it has seen economic hardship, it has remained an archetypal landmark for the region. By day visitors will enjoy panoramic vistas, landscaped gardens, a high-end boutique shopping promenade, and classic drinks on the veranda of the Paragon Restaurant and Bar. Guest of the hotel can gain access to the property's 10 tennis courts (managed by The Berkeley Tennis Club), three outdoor pools, and it's 20,000-square-foot spa.
* Beyond being fully acquired through a game of checkers, the Claremont Hotel is the source of many stories. Two popular tales include: