The popularity of Berkeley is often overshadowed by its world-renowned university and rich history of counter-culture movements. But when you look closely, you realise this charming Californian gem has much to offer than just collegiate charm and political history.
It is an exciting treasure trove of coastal beauty, cultural charm, historic heritage and metropolitan adventures. From verdant hiking trails and mesmerising bayside sunsets, to world-class theatres and elegant fine dining establishments, Berkeley is filled with surprises.
Our roundup of the top 10 cool and unusual hotels will introduce you to the finest boutique hotels, historic lodgings and cosy quirky inns to explore in Berkeley, California (in no particular order)…
1. Graduate Berkeley – a trendy college-themed hotspot with bags of unconventional charm
Intellectuals flock to the Graduate Berkeley to bask in its distinct collegiate atmosphere and luxuriate in the plush comforts of premium suites adorned with modern amenities. The Graduate is based in the renovated premises of the historic Hotel Durant, making it a popular and iconic remnant of Berkeley’s eventful counter-culture legacy.
Guests can explore an array of standard, mid-sized, and luxury rooms and suites, based on their accommodation needs and preferences. The interiors of the Graduate are filled with artistic and academic references, beautifully blended with a laid-back bohemian flair to stay true to Berkeley’s cultural roots.
Furthermore, guests cannot stop raving about Henry’s, the onsite restaurant and pub famous for its flavorful cocktails and wide selection of bite-sized treats.
- To book, check prices or availability for The Graduate Berkeley
2. The Claremont Club & Spa, A Fairmont Hotel – an opulent Californian classic with a timeless touch and picture-perfect swimming pool
Home to 22 acres of the stunning beauty of East Bay and San Francisco’s vibrant cityscape, the Claremont Club & Spa is a classic old-meets-new establishment with its opulent 19th-century aesthetics and modern amenities. Travelers exploring the Bay Area find this upscale establishment a relaxing getaway to enjoy peace and quiet amid breathtaking views, whilst still reaping the benefits of a central location.
One of the most charming historic hotels in Berkeley, the Claremont first opened its doors to travelers in 1915. From the resort’s old-world interiors and exquisite detailing to the magnificent hilly landscape, there’s much to appreciate and admire everywhere you look.
Guests will find 276 tastefully designed guest rooms and suites to indulge in traditional Californian hospitality with luxury amenities and a range of appealing recreational facilities.
- To book, check prices or availability for The Claremont Club and Spa
3. Hotel Shattuck Plaza – an elegant accommodation option close to Berkeley University characterised by its lavishly quirky decor
One of the finest boutique hotels for travellers seeking accommodation near the prestigious Berkeley University, the Hotel Shattuck Plaza is an inviting oasis of elegantly timeless features and contemporary creature comforts.
Erected in a traditional mission-style home constructed over a century ago, the Shattuck Plaza beckons guests with its lavishly appointed guest rooms, striking amenities and an onsite Mediterranean-themed dining experience. The Plaza is home to 199 rooms featuring state-of-the-art appliances, fine furniture, hypoallergenic bedding, and thoughtfully curated ergonomic workstations.
The interiors exude an eco-conscious mindfulness and the sun-soaked warmth typical of California, whilst the dedicated staff must be commended for their keen attention to detail and matchless service.
- To book, check prices or availability for Hotel Shattuck Plaza
4. DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Berkeley Marina – a family-friendly hotel close to the top attractions of Berkeley, boasting a cool contemporary design
Guests eager to enjoy breakfasts with sweeping views of the Bay area and wake up to the stunning Golden Gate Bridge extending before them should look no further than the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotels at Berkeley Marina. A project of the world-renowned Hilton Hotel, DoubleTree positions travellers in the very heart of Berkeley – near the marina, the University of California, and the beautiful Berkeley Botanic Gardens.
Staying at DoubleTree is a relaxing experience designed around enjoying the natural beauty of the marina and Bay Area, and every room offers sweeping views of the breathtaking landscape. Guests will find luxury accommodations with private balconies and terraces as well as having the chance to enjoy evening teas in the quaint garden.
- To book, check prices or availability for DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Berkeley Marina
5. Aiden by Best Western @ Berkeley – a cool city centre hotel with funky rooftop terrace that’s perfect for Gen-Zs, Millennials, friends’ and couples’ holidays
Nestled in the colorful quarters of East Bay, Aiden by Best Western is a modern establishment designed for contemporary travellers seeking comfort and convenience. This opulent boutique hotel attracts business and leisure travellers with its upscale amenities, such as complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi, king-sized beds, pillow-top mattresses, personal safes, and smart appliances.
The guest rooms are luxuriously appointed with tasteful furniture, premium comfort beds and modern amenities that demonstrate the close attention to detail paid throughout the hotel. Guests particularly enjoy breathtaking city views from the rooftop terrace and soulful yoga sessions with mesmerising sunrises and sunsets as their backdrop.
The central location makes this hotel ideal for those eager to minimise commuting expenses and maximise their time away. Guests can reserve the onsite bicycle rentals to explore the Berkeley marina and other popular attractions.
- To book, check prices or availability for Aiden by Best Western @ Berkeley
6. Berkeley City Club Hotel – an iconic Berkeley landmark with a traditionally elegant feel throughout its gorgeous vintage interiors
The Berkeley City Club Hotel is one of the most prestigious historic hotels in the city, admitted into the National Register of Historic Places. Staying at this elegant establishment is truly a one-of-a-kind experience, drenched in old-world grandeur and a gripping historical legacy.
The Berkeley City Club has done a splendid job of preserving the historic architecture and vintage interiors while elevating the guest rooms with mindful comfort-focused renovations. The 38 rooms and suites transport you through the ages to a bygone era gone by with their vintage-themed décor, period-style furniture and rare antiques.
History buffs won’t be able to resist delving into the past of this magnificent historic landmark surrounded by verdant hills and stunning bay views.
- To book, check prices or availability for Berkeley City Club Hotel
7. SenS Hotel & Vanne Bistro Berkeley – a cute and quirky boutique accommodation option in Berkeley’s lively Bay Area
SenS Hotel & Vanne Bistro welcomes those in search of comfort and great food with its tastefully appointed guest rooms, wonderful in-house restaurant and central location in the heart of the Bay Area’s most vibrant food district.
This historic hotel first emerged on the Berkeley travel circuit in 1937, established in a three-story brick building that housed the French Laundry. The hotel has since successfully retained its original architecture and interiors with masterful upgrades to create a luxuriously comfortable setting for discerning travelers.
Guests will find premium guest rooms equipped with luxury furniture, fine linens, bath toiletries, workstations and an assortment of smart appliances. Some of the accommodations feature private balconies and patios.
- To book, check prices or availability for SenS Hotel & Vanne Bistro Berkeley
8. Bancroft Hotel – a striking 1920’s hotel that’s filled to the brim with classic Californian charm
Do you want to enjoy proximity to the UC Berkeley campus as well as all the most popular attractions across the San Francisco Bay Area? Look no further than the Bancroft Hotel, offering the ideal location in the heart of the UC campus, surrounded by breathtaking views of the verdant Berkeley hills and the beautiful Bay Area.
This elegant boutique hotel, with its retro 1920’s-theme, is registered as a National Historic Landmark site. It offers 22 recently renovated guest rooms with eco-friendly upgrades, state-of-the-art amenities and sumptuous beds. The Bancroft offers a classic home-away-from-home experience blended with lavish resort-like comforts to ensure a memorable stay.
Travellers eager to soak up the Californian sunshine can choose guest rooms with balconies to enjoy breakfasts with stunning bay views.
- To book, check prices or availability for The Bancroft Hotel
9. Marina Inn – a classic budget retro-style hotel perfect for young travellers, business trips, and those looking to maximise their time in Berkeley
One of the best budget hotels in Berkeley, the Marina Inn invites travellers to enjoy clean, comfortable and contemporary rooms at affordable rates. The retro-style inn is home to 20 guest rooms, designed with simplistic interiors and comfort-enhancing amenities.
The rooms are equipped with an array of convenience-boosting facilities, including in-room refrigerators, LCD TVs, microwaves, fine bedding and well-equipped bathrooms. Guests can rely on the friendly staff at the activity desk to help pack their itineraries with must-have Berkely experiences and guided tours.
This budget-friendly accommodation does not compromise on hygiene, comfort and quality, making it a popular choice among business and leisure travelers.
- To book, check prices or availability for Marina Inn
10. Serene Cozy Private Suite Patio, Upscale Berkeley
Holidaymakers seeking the privacy and independence of a holiday apartment will find the Serene Cosy Private Suite Patio a splendid choice, allowing them to explore Berkeley at their own pace.
This high-end accommodation comes with a range of attractive amenities, such as a state-of-the-art kitchen, manicured garden, and a sprawling patio with delightful views.
The upscale apartment offers 1 bedroom, a fully-equipped kitchenette, 1 bathroom, a garden, a terrace and fine linens. Guests have access to free WiFi and a balcony, and smart appliances to maximise comfort and convenience.
The central location positions guests in the heart of all the fun and action, with multiple popular attractions within walking distance, including the University of California campus and the world-famous Paramount Theater.
- To book, check prices or availability for Serene Cosy Private Suite Patio
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Born and raised in Brazil, Gaby has always had a taste for the intriguing, the off-beat and the far flung. After travelling around most of South America, living in Spain and Italy and then moving to England, her feet have stayed continually twitchy. Studying for a degree in Spanish translation and then learning five more languages only poured more fuel onto her travelling ardor.
Gaby likes nothing better than discovering new destinations and meeting the locals, tasting the cuisine and hearing about the local stories. Her other indulgences include French cinema, boxing, photography, colourful manicures and soaking up the rays on a sun-infused beach. She counts Rio de Janeiro, Rome, Barcelona, Lisbon and Cornwall as her most favourite places in the world.