Claremont Resort

Claremont Resort
The Claremont Hotel Club & Spa
Location Oakland, California, United States
Address 41 Tunnel Road, Berkeley, California
Coordinates 37°51′32″N 122°14′30″W / 37.8588°N 122.2418°W / 37.8588; -122.2418Coordinates: 37°51′32″N 122°14′30″W / 37.8588°N 122.2418°W / 37.8588; -122.2418
Opening date 1915
Architect Charles William Dickey
Walter D. Reed
Rooms 279
Suites Studio Suites
Petite Queen Suites
Restaurants Meritage at the Claremont
Paragon Bar & Café
Bayview Café
Floors 10
Claremont Hotel
Built: 1906
Architectural style: Tudor Revival, Classical Revival
Governing body: Private
NRHP Reference#: 03000427
Added to NRHP: May 22, 2003
References: [1][2]

The Claremont Hotel Club & Spa is a historic hotel at the foot of Claremont Canyon in the Berkeley Hills, providing the resort with scenic views of San Francisco Bay. The hotel building is entirely in Oakland, bordering Berkeley.

The Claremont has 279 guest rooms, an award-winning 20,000-square-foot (1,900 m2) spa, 10 tennis courts, and 22 acres (8.9 ha) of landscaped gardens. Romantic stories tell that it was once won in a checkers game. The Hotel was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2003,[2] and is a designated California Historical Landmark.

The Claremont Resort opened in 1915 as the Claremont Hotel, named for the Claremont district in which it was situated. It was constructed by a group of real estate developers including mining magnate "Borax" Smith associated with the Key System who had already opened up another large hotel in Oakland at Grand Avenue and Broadway called the Key Route Inn. The Key Route Inn, which suffered a serious fire in September 1930 and was demolished in April and May 1932, featured the convenience of a transbay electric rail line running through it. Similarly, a transbay line was run right to the doors of the Claremont Hotel (eventually designated the "E" line), approaching from between the tennis courts. The tracks were removed in 1958 when the Key System ended rail service, but the tennis courts survive, with a path between them where the tracks used to be. Thus, Claremont Hotel guests not only had a magnificent view of San Francisco, but they could also go there directly from the doorsteps of the lobby.

The hotel was also convenient to automobile traffic as it was situated along the principal route leading over the Berkeley Hills via Claremont Canyon. In 1903, a small tunnel was excavated above the next canyon south of Claremont Canyon, accessible by a new road dubbed "Tunnel Road" which ran from the end of Ashby Avenue. The same route later led to a newer, larger tunnel called the Caldecott Tunnel which opened in 1937. The street address of the Claremont remains to this day, 41 Tunnel Road. Tunnel Road is a designated part of State Highway 13.

In 1876, a Berkeley city ordinance was passed prohibiting alcohol within one mile (1.6 km) of the perimeter of the University of California. As the Claremont Hotel was being built, its investors noticed it was just inside this no-alcohol zone. They determined to fight the definition so that they could make more money by serving alcohol. In 1913, the hotel's investors sponsored AB 1620 (known as the Ferguson bill), supposedly to further restrict alcohol near churches and schools statewide, but it specifically excluded the Claremont Hotel from the dry zone. Influenced by activism from women's clubs and temperance groups in Berkeley, the Ferguson bill was defeated by one vote.[3] After amending the bill and mounting a stronger campaign, the Claremont's investors were able to pass the bill in altered form. The new bill redefined the mile limit to be centered on the library of the university—a shifting of the boundary which allowed the Claremont to serve drinks.[4] In 1920, Prohibition was enacted federally, ending the Claremont's legal license to serve alcohol. In 1933 when Prohibition was repealed, the Claremont Hotel continued to suffer from the state law prohibiting alcohol within a mile of the university. In 1936, an enterprising student and her friends measured several of the possible routes, finding that the shortest distance from the school to the hotel's front steps was a few feet over a mile. The Claremont immediately opened a bar and awarded the student free drinks for life.[5]

The hotel had an unusual fire escape, a multi-story spiral slide for guests to make their escape. Many local teenagers were said to have taken the ride but the slide was eventually boarded up, and removed.

The Claremont faced destruction in the 1991 Oakland firestorm, but the flames were stopped just short of the hotel.

In 2007, the Claremont was acquired by Morgan Stanley. On February 1, 2011, the resort filed for bankruptcy due to losses attributed to the ongoing recession.[6]


  1. ^ Claremont Resort at Emporis
  2. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23. Retrieved 27 October 2010. 
  3. ^ Robert W. Cherny, Mary Ann Irwin, Ann Marie Wilson (2011). California Women and Politics: From the Gold Rush to the Great Depression. University of Nebraska Press. p. 191. ISBN 0803235038. 
  4. ^ Hichborn, Franklin (1913). Story of the session of the California Legislature of 1913. Press of the James H. Barry company. pp. 303–304. 
  5. ^ "Free Drinks for Life". History. The Claremont Hotel. 2007. Archived from the original on August 4, 2008. Retrieved January 3, 2011. 
  6. ^ Century-old Claremont Hotel files for bankruptcy", San Francisco Chronicle, February 2, 2011

External links

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