Berkeley hotels

Berkeley hotels have a lot to offer locals

The rooftop terrace of the new hotel, Aiden by Best Western, at the university and in Sacramento, is open to hotel guests and members of the community. Credit: Kelly Sullivan

This story is brought to you by the City of Berkeley’s Office of Economic Development.

Berkeley’s wide range of hotels offer more than just a bed to this city’s more than 2 million annual visitors. From turn-of-the-century details to modern rooftops with stunning bay views, each offers travelers a unique Berkeley experience. The new 17-story Residence Inn by Marriott in Downtown Berkeley joins a variety of Berkeley hotels that offer visitors – as well as locals – comfortable and stylish places to gather as well as opportunities to discover and connect with the history, flavors and character of Berkeley.

Visit Aiden’s Rooftop Terrace

Aiden by Best Western @ Berkeley, which opened on University Avenue in April 2021, is the first in California of Best Western’s new collection of hotels branded “Cool. Nervous. Sleek.” Each franchise—there are only five so far in the United States—aims to appeal to design-savvy travelers and embody the spirit of its local neighborhood.

To bring a taste of Berkeley to the hotel and ensure a connection to the surrounding community, General Manager Jeroen Buiks has incorporated local brands, local hiring, and renting or donating rooftop space to local organizations.

The first floor of the Aiden by Best Western Berkeley offers kombucha on tap from a local Berkeley brewer.  Credit: Kelly Sullivan
Kombucha on tap at Aiden. Credit: Kelly Sullivan

“Our pride and joy is the roof,” Buiks said, and it’s not hard to see why. Heated seats, fire pits, a cornhole, and a TRX resistance setup for exercisers are backed by gorgeous views of the San Francisco Bay and an uninterrupted gaze of the Golden Gate Bridge.

In the lobby, find coffee from West Berkeley’s Uncommon Grounds and kombucha on tap from University Avenue neighbor Boochman Kombucha. Take a look outside a window and you’ll find window boxes bursting with native plants.

A few blocks west of downtown Berkeley, Aiden’s central location to college and Sacramento sets guests up for a full day of exploring in every direction, using free bikes available in the lobby. In addition to an easy walk to the UC Berkeley campus, travelers can venture two blocks to the North Berkeley BART and Ohlone Greenway trail, or west to the Bay Trail. And after a long day, there’s no need to wander off for dinner: there are 10 restaurants within two blocks of the hotel.

Go Bears’ at Graduate Berkeley

The lobby of the Graduate Hotel features murals by local painter Chris Lux, seen on January 17, 2022. Credit: Kelly Sullivan
The Graduate Berkeley lobby features murals by local painter Chris Lux. Credit: Kelly Sullivan

Just a block from the UC Berkeley campus, Graduate Berkeley — which replaced the Durant Hotel a few years ago — is a boutique hotel that, like the rest of the Graduate Hotels brand, uses its space recently renovated to engage with the university and the local community. . Inside the front doors on Durant Avenue, the airy lobby features a gilded wall of thousands of National geographic magazine covers — because that signature yellow is an exact match for UC Berkeley’s gold, said general manager Christine McDermott.

The Graduate Hotel Berkeley features artwork reminiscent of Berkeley's history, including the silhouette of former Berkeley resident Richard Pryor.  Credit: Kelly Sullivan
Local history touches at Graduate Berkeley. Credit: Kelly Sullivan

Other nods to Berkeley’s history as both a college town and a counterculture icon are playfully dotted throughout the hotel. A colorful portrait of Marshawn Lynch, who played football for Cal before turning pro, smiles near the elevator. A figure of comedian Richard Pryor, once a Berkeley resident, hangs in each room near a bong-inspired lamp — a “nod to the ’60s,” McDermott said.

The Durant Room occupies the front section of the hotel, where plush seating and wide windows overlook the Southside neighborhood. A perfect spot for people-watching — or grabbing takeout from a huge array of nearby eateries along Telegraph Avenue — this space also doubles as an extension of the hotel’s own restaurant, Henry’s. Before the pandemic, Graduate Berkeley partnered with Cal Student Services each year to host a Thanksgiving meal for students who couldn’t go home for the holidays. And during the tailgates of home football games, hundreds of fans come out to celebrate, McDermott said — even fans of the opposing team. “It’s something like you’ve never seen before,” she said.

For lovers of the quiet charm of Graduate Berkeley, the hotel is one of the few in the area to offer discounted long-term stays beyond 28 days and offers a discounted rate to UC Berkeley alumni and family visits.

Find a Downtown Gem at the Shattuck Plaza Hotel

The lobby of the Shattuck Plaza Hotel seen on January 13, 2022. Credit: Kelly Sullivan
The lobby of the Shattuck Plaza Hotel blends the historic with the contemporary. Credit: Kelly Sullivan

The contemporary, chic vibe isn’t limited to new Berkeley hotels. One of Berkeley’s premier hotels, the downtown Shattuck Plaza Hotel offers current, eco-friendly updates and original turn-of-the-century touches. Completed in 1910 by the family of prominent civic leader Francis Kittredge Shattuck, it is now run by BPR Hotels, an independent family business. Hotel visitors come for “an experience,” said general manager and regional operations manager Dell Dellinger. “As soon as you enter the Shattuck Plaza Hotel, you will begin a journey back in time that encompasses both luxury and elegance.”

The Presidential Suite at the Shattuck Plaza Hotel is decorated with original early 1900s wallpaper found in the basement during the renovation.  Credit: Kelly Sullivan
Original wallpaper at Shattuck Plaza. Credit: Kelly Sullivan

Operating under the slogan “history reinvented”, the hotel has been a city landmark since 1987 and, like the nearby Berkeley City Club, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Restored chandeliers from 1910 adorn the lobby, along with newspaper clippings and historic photographs. The original wallpaper still adorns the Presidential Suite. Built in the years after the 1906 earthquake and fires that devastated San Francisco, the hotel’s initial reputation was as the Bay Area’s first fire-rated hotel, built of reinforced steel and concrete.

Today, recognizing the importance of environmental best practices to the Berkeley community, BPR Hotels owners Perry Patel and Rita Parasnis — who both attended Cal — have maintained a California Green Business certification.

Locals and guests enjoy grab-and-go breakfasts and weekend brunch at the ZINO hotel restaurant, which also serves a daily dinner menu, updated quarterly with inspiration from different regions. Mediterranean. Visit the restaurant for historic-inspired cocktails and local craft beer, for that perfect combination of international intrigue and Berkeley’s hometown vibe.

Zino, the restaurant located in the lobby of the Shattuck Plaza Hotel, seen on January 13, 2022. Credit: Kelly Sullivan
ZINO, the restaurant located in the lobby of the Shattuck Plaza Hotel offers historically inspired cocktails. Credit: Kelly Sullivan

This story was funded by the City of Berkeley’s Office of Economic Development. The office helps new and established Berkeley businesses build strong community connections, navigate local politics, find affordable financing and real estate — and become more sustainable. During the pandemic, OED staff are helping entrepreneurs, artists and community organizations maintain business continuity and plan for a brighter time ahead.