The Best Hotels to Book in Berkeley, California

Check into the classy Claremont Club and Spa for a high-end stay in Berkeley
Check into the classy Claremont Club and Spa for a high-end stay in Berkeley | © Scott Morris / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Lilly Graves
28 September 2021

The city home of University of California’s Berkeley campus has plenty going for it: a vibrant downtown, a bayfront facing San Francisco and hiking trails with spectacular sunset views. Book one of these stays on Culture Trip to experience it all.

Beyond its natural beauty, this Northern California city may conjure up bespectacled, slightly bohemian types, thanks in part to the 1960s Free Speech Movement. Berkeley, USA has long been home to artists, writers and academics who like to discuss important matters over a cup of coffee. But there are more – mostly organic – ingredients in this melting pot of cultures and identities. Berkeley gathers people from all walks of life – just check out the historic architecture, ethnic restaurants and cultural activities, like the famous Day of the Dead Festival. These hotels incorporate all the above, and then some.

Claremont Club & Spa – A Fairmont Hotel

4.5/5 (944 Reviews)
Courtesy of The Claremont Club and Spa, A Fairmont Hotel /
Price Drop
Now from $353 per night
For upscale, full-service digs in Berkeley, this is it. This white hotel in the hills has been a landmark since 1915, with 22 acres (8.9ha) of beautifully landscaped grounds with four tennis courts, a stunning outdoor pool area, spa and fitness center. You can go hiking at nearby Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve, or stick to your room or suite – one of 276, likely with views of the San Francisco Bay and skyline. Rooms have Le Labo bath products and Keurig coffee makers, and the on-site restaurant offers seasonal menus. Cocktails in the lounge are a highlight, too – get a smoky old fashioned, or peruse the extensive wine list. Guests can pick up gourmet provisions, like pastries and egg sandwiches, from the cafe.
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Berkeley City Club

Map View
Courtesy of Berkeley City Club Hotel /
Take one look at this property, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and you might be surprised to find that it’s one of the budget-friendly options in town. Steps from UC Berkeley’s campus, there are 35 basic but charming rooms – many coming with views. More important, though, are the common areas with tall ceilings and original architectural elements, decorated with antiques and Persian rugs. Don’t miss the beautiful Moorish-style indoor pool with original mosaic tilework, or the French-inspired restaurant, Julia’s – open for lunch and dinner, with terracotta floors and a menu of wild-caught sole and affordable bottles of wine. Breakfast is included and laundry service is also available.

Hotel Shattuck Plaza

Boutique Hotel, Hotel
4.4/5 (931 Reviews)
Courtesy of Hotel Shattuck Plaza /
Price Drop
Now from $152 per night
Another historic property steps from the university, this elegant Mission-style hotel offers 199 renovated rooms with contemporary decor, Keurig coffee makers and ergonomic workspaces – some with balconies and soaking tubs. Don’t miss the in-house eatery Zino, which cooks up Mediterranean mezzes, vegan paellas and braised lamb. The bar and lounge of the same name offers craft cocktails inspired by the Mediterranean as well, plus traditional wines and local craft beers. Ask the staff about the hotel’s sustainability practices, which are quite impressive.
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Graduate Berkeley

3.9/5 (987 Reviews)
Courtesy of Graduate Berkeley /
Price Drop
Now from $146 per night
This trendy hotel brand is ever-growing, with properties in the best college towns across America and even a few in the UK. The fun, modern and quirky themes are different depending on the location: think hyperlocal, with tiny elements of luxury. This particular lobby is adorned with thousands of National Geographic magazines, along with street art and rugs from India. Rooms combine preppy plaids with jewel-tone furnishings, creating an appropriate bohemian-chic vibe. They all come with desks and Malin + Goetz bath products, while upgraded rooms offer access to a private lounge with complimentary breakfast. The lobby-level restaurant and pub has items like protein packs for breakfast and PAC-12 salads and gourmet burgers for dinner.
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Sens Hotel & Vanne Bistro Berkeley

3.9/5 (225 Reviews)
Courtesy of SenS Hotel and Vanne Bistro Berkeley /
Price Drop
Now from $164 per night
This classic three-level brick building can’t be missed thanks to its lime-green awnings, creating a cheerful entrance, in a walkable neighborhood about 15 minutes from campus. Renovated rooms come with contemporary microwaves, mini-fridges, bathrobes and working desks – many with balconies or patios. On the ground floor, Vanne Bistro serves espresso, lattes and grab-and-go pastries with indoor and outdoor seating. There are many more gourmet dining options in the neighborhood for other meals, including noodles, salads, Korean hot dogs and supplies from a major grocery store.
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  • Sonesta Emeryville

    Map View
    Courtesy of Sonesta Emeryville Oakland /
    Situated between Berkeley and Oakland, this modern, no-frills hotel is located in Emeryville, a 15-minute drive to Berkeley. Business workers are common here, as the location is close to many major companies and studios. Contemporary guest rooms and suites stay light with big windows, ocean hues and views of the San Francisco Bay. On the lower level, guests can take advantage of modern indoor and outdoor seating areas providing places to sit and work, or relax with a drink – there’s also a fitness center and indoor pool. A casual restaurant offers breakfast daily with La Colombe coffee, and the lobby-level area provides vending machines and grab-and-go items.

    Bancroft Hotel

    Map View

    This ecofriendly hotel is located in a historic craftsman-style building across the street from UC Berkeley’s campus. There are 22 remodeled guest rooms, all with queen beds and organic cotton, and many with balconies and views of Berkeley. The most impressive aspect of this hotel is the long list of green features – curtains are made from recycled soda bottles, and bathrooms have bamboo towels, plus organic soaps and shampoos. For an added dose of personality, artwork in the rooms are dedicated to different academic departments at the university. Breakfast is included in the rate, with items like house-made granola.

    Hyatt House Emeryville/San Francisco Bay Area

    4.2/5 (938 Reviews)
    Courtesy of HYATT house Emeryville/San Francisco Bay Area /
    Price Drop
    Now from $165 per night
    This Hyatt is another convenient option in Emeryville, especially for families and extended stays – suites are residential in style. Bright, modern rooms have mini-fridges, microwaves and ergonomic desk areas, while suites have kitchens and more living space. Walk to neighboring restaurants and markets, or request the shuttle for rides. In the lobby, there’s a casual bar and restaurant serving made-to-order breakfasts, or drinks and light bites later in the day. No matter what time it is, you can stop in the guest market for grab-and-go items.
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    Dream Catcher

    Map View
    Courtesy of Dream Catcher /
    Laid-back types who enjoy organic food will appreciate this funky, community-focused option in West Oakland. The small property is combined with a culinary program, which offers an impressive menu of local, organic and sustainable foods – think vegetable ragout, jambalaya, burgers and po’ boys. The aim is to source between 80 and 90 percent of the vegetables within a 10-mile radius of the restaurant. Every month, there’s a new local artist gracing the gallery, so look for art installations and murals. As for those who want to sleep overnight, there are a handful of rooms with basic decor and modern amenities, like wifi, hair dryers and toiletries. Some rooms may include spa tubs and private yards. Housekeeping is available on request.
    These recommendations were updated on September 28, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh. This article is an updated version of a story created by Lilly Graves

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