Known for its hippie vibes and high-achieving university, Berkeley is a city of contrasts in the Bay Area. There’s always something to do, including community events, festivals, museums and galleries, but nothing compares to the Greek Theatre, an 8,500-capacity amphitheater that hosts concerts. And you’ll be first in line for a seat to the show when you stay at one of these nearby hotels – bookable on Culture Trip.
Less hippie, more hip – this boutique hotel cleverly combines the building’s history, dating to 1910, with discreet service and modern facilities. For example, its glamorous bar and lounge features original high ceilings, complete with immaculately restored crown molding, while at eye level, a horseshoe-shaped granite bar top, encircled by salmon-pink leather stools, adds contemporary elegance. And, behind a room-dividing curtain, Zino serves fresh, Californian takes on classic Mediterranean cuisine.
No doubt about it, the Claremont Club and Spa is a Berkeley icon. Known around town as “the White Castle on the Hill,” this sprawling, stately resort has some of the best views of the San Francisco Bay – and, if you squint, the Golden Gate Bridge – that you’ll find anywhere. If you’re the active type, book the tennis courts for a game or two, dive into the heated lap pool or go hiking in the nearby Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve.
This charming boutique hotel may be a 20-minute drive from Berkeley, in the artsy community of Point Richmond, but don’t let that put you off. The owners have taken great care to keep as much of the original charm of this 1911-built hotel as possible. From the flickering fireplaces in the rooms to the saloon-style bar downstairs, it exudes an authentic, old-fashioned warmth (though the air conditioning keeps things suitably chilly in the heat of summer).
A hop north from Berkeley on the Bart, Lafayette is a cute commuter town with bags of Californian charm. This is its finest hotel, fusing the looks of a French château (a turret roof, shuttered windows and a central courtyard featuring a lion’s head fountain) with the laid-back attitude of a Californian country home. Spend your afternoons strolling among the groves of oak trees, getting pampered in the spa and dining at the farm-to-table Park Bistro & Bar.
This quaint, clapboard-clad hotel is around a half-hour from Berkeley, in bayside Benicia, but it’s more than worth the cab fees. Antique oil paintings, restored furniture and daringly bold Bradbury and Bradbury wallpaper bring character and charm to each of the 12 large suites, while the original carved 19th-century bar, stained-glass windows, chandeliers and period objects throughout are evident of meticulous attention to detail. After a hard day’s browsing the local antique stores, pull up a barstool and relax with a classic cocktail – you’ve earned it.
Across the bay, in the small yacht-loving community of Tiburon, you may not get a pool or a gym at the Waters Edge Hotel, but you’ll be staying at the only waterfront hotel in town. The clinking of masts and the lapping of waves should help you drift off to sleep – that’s if the complimentary wine and cheese offering, which happens every evening out on the deck, hasn’t already done the trick.
You needn’t have graduated from Berkeley to feel like a part of the college community here. From the racks of yellow-spined National Geographic magazines lining the lobby to the eclectic street art that adorns the walls, there’s a sophisticated, cerebral vibe to this historic hotel. On Friday evenings and weekends, you’ll find Berkeley’s more well-heeled students gathering at the stylish pub-style bar and restaurant, Henry’s. If things get too loud, you can always retreat to your plush, velvet- and leather-trimmed room.
Not convinced? Find everything you’re looking for at one of the best hotels in San Francisco, or venture further afield and book a stay at one of the most incredible hotels in Monterey. You can then enjoy seaside views at one of the best restaurants in Monterey or explore the best beaches near San Francisco. While in the area, make sure to also check these must-visit attractions in San Francisco off your bucket list.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.