California Dreaming: 24 Hours in Berkeley

Berkeley in Bloom: 24 Hours in the East Bay

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We’ve been gone from San Francisco for five years in July, and in that time, SVV has been back to his hometown all of once. For those who don’t know what this elusive husband of mine does, he works for my family’s accounting firm and after a particularly harrowing tax season for all, made all the more difficult by my dad’s stroke and all the implications that followed, we knew we wanted to head west to shake off the past four months.

California Dreaming: 24 Hours in Berkeley

So 48 hours after the firm was all buttoned up—at least for the time being—we boarded a flight to California for five days.

Back when I was a Bay Area resident, there were no direct flights to Nashville and it was a painful process to go home for anything shorter than a long weekend, made only worse by the time change, but thankfully Southwest had the good sense to add one back beginning last summer. It was an easy and relatively quick (four hours) in the air, and we landed around lunch time. Our stomachs growling, we wasted no time after getting our rental car before heading straight to Summer Kitchen to take care of business.

California Dreaming: 24 Hours in Berkeley

SVV’s old Navy pal Roy had told us this Berkeley restaurant was home to his favorite sandwich, and that’s all it took for SVV to pick that as our meeting place.I didn’t even pause to take pictures; that’s how good the sandwiches were.

Roy and Crystal joined us for lunch, then whisked us next door to Ici for some of the best ice cream in the Bay before giving us the lay of the land.

California Dreaming: 24 Hours in Berkeley

California Dreaming: 24 Hours in Berkeley
California Dreaming: 24 Hours in Berkeley

California Dreaming: 24 Hours in Berkeley

They’ve lived in this pocked of Berkeley for going on a decade, and we wandered around their gorgeous neighborhood just off of College Avenue to creep people out by taking photos of people’s houses admire all the flowers in bloom.

California Dreaming: 24 Hours in Berkeley

California Dreaming: 24 Hours in Berkeley
California Dreaming: 24 Hours in Berkeley

California Dreaming: 24 Hours in Berkeley

Berkeley is far prettier than I remember it, and I fully believe had we stayed in the Bay Area long term, we would have wound up living in this area, too. So neighborhoody, so peaceful, so many delicious things to eat and drink in walking distance.

California Dreaming: 24 Hours in Berkeley

California Dreaming: 24 Hours in Berkeley
California Dreaming: 24 Hours in Berkeley

California Dreaming: 24 Hours in Berkeley

California Dreaming: 24 Hours in Berkeley
California Dreaming: 24 Hours in Berkeley

California Dreaming: 24 Hours in Berkeley

When we were done strolling and travel fatigue began to set in, it was time to check into our hotel for a nap. Only, this time we decided to ditch the idea of staying in the city—we had a car, after all, and San Francisco and parking do not mix—and make our home base in the East Bay instead.

California Dreaming: 24 Hours in Berkeley

I’d never before been to Hotel Shattuck Plaza but after four years of compiling the annual Frommer’s California and Frommer’s San Francisco guides, I knew of it—it’s one of the most celebrated properties in the East Bay—and had always wanted to stay in this charming boutique hotel.

Hotel Shattuck Plaza: Where to Stay in Berkeley

A tiled peace sign greeted us in the entryway—so very Berkeley—and the check-in process was quick, and we were on the elevator en route to our room. All it took was me getting off on our floor to fall head over heels for this property. Would you look at these patterns? They’re a color lover’s dream!

Hotel Shattuck Plaza: Where to Stay in Berkeley

Hotel Shattuck Plaza: Where to Stay in Berkeley
Hotel Shattuck Plaza: Where to Stay in Berkeley

Hotel Shattuck occupies a mission-style building from 1910, though each room seems recently renovated and is outfitted with modern furnishings, plus the token patterns on every which surface. We had a corner room on the fifth floor with a large seating area, and as the skies were clear that first day, we could see all the way to the Bay Bridge.

Hotel Shattuck Plaza: Where to Stay in Berkeley

That night, we walked out the front of the hotel and just across the street to Jupiter. This beer garden is a long-time Berkeley institution, but I’d never been before. And although it was your typical brisk Bay Area weather once the sun set, we fought the cold and settled in for a couple rounds and some pizzas with Roy and our old pals Leah and Simon and Moose.

California Dreaming: 24 Hours in Berkeley

California Dreaming: 24 Hours in Berkeley
California Dreaming: 24 Hours in Berkeley
While I don’t miss living in California per se, there’s no denying that I do miss the close-knit group of good friends we left behind.
California Dreaming: 24 Hours in Berkeley

The next morning, we rolled out of bed at Shattuck early—6am since our internal clocks were still on Tennessee time—and were some of the first diners at FIVE, Hotel Shattuck’s resident restaurant, when it opened for breakfast.

Hotel Shattuck Plaza: Where to Stay in Berkeley

California Dreaming: 24 Hours in Berkeley
California Dreaming: 24 Hours in Berkeley

Hotel Shattuck Plaza: Where to Stay in Berkeley

SVV went a little more high-brow with his smoked salmon on a bagel, while I stuck to the classics. There were so many things on the American-style menu I wanted to try, but in the end, the chocolate chip pancakes with banana topping were calling my name. I regret nothing. Best pancakes I’ve had in a very long while.

The patterns I so loved on the upper floors extended into the lobby level common areas with enviable wallpapers and bold light fixtures, plus a serpentine bar—the state rock, my geology-loving husband points out—just around the corner. Speaking of gluttony, I unfortunately didn’t even have time to peak into the fitness center, as Hotel Shattuck has one of those, too.

Hotel Shattuck Plaza: Where to Stay in Berkeley

Hotel Shattuck Plaza: Where to Stay in Berkeley

The only minor downside was the lack of parking, but we wound up finding easy street parking directly in front of the hotel (and there’s an easily accessible pay lot across the street had we had trouble finding a spot).

Hotel Shattuck Plaza: Where to Stay in Berkeley

To those of you coming to the Bay Area soon and looking for a hotel, let me just tell you this: Your life will be substantially easier if you don’t stay in the thick of San Francisco. And another bonus for Hotel Shattuck: It’s directly across the street from the Downtown Berkeley BART station, so you can be into the city in no time at all.

Hotel Shattuck Plaza: Where to Stay in Berkeley

Because we had places to go and other things to eat, we checked out of the hotel relatively early and headed over the Bay Bridge to start the next leg of our trip.

California Dreaming: 24 Hours in Berkeley

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24 Hours in Berkeley, California

COMMENTS
  • April 27, 2016
    Kristen

    Gorgeous pictures! Next time you’re in Berkeley try staying at the newly renovated Claremont Hotel & Spa (a Fairmont property). It’s a historical hotel in the area and very newly (and beautifully so!) renovated. Our office is in the East Bay and when I travel out to HQ, I stay at the Claremont and it’s lovely. Oh, and add Zachary’s Pizza to your list as well. Deep dish pizza in Claremont on Solano.

    • May 1, 2016

      I stayed at the Claremont in maybe 2010? Not sure if it’s been renovated again since then, but it was gorgeous! And yes, LOVE Zachary’s. We thought about going there this time, but Jupiter was better for a group (and we wanted to be outdoors).

  • April 27, 2016

    I’m going to a wedding at UC Berkley’s botanical gardens in a month, I can’t wait to check out some of your recommendations!

    xox

    • May 1, 2016

      Oh yay! I still haven’t visited the botanical gardens so take some good photos for me!

      • May 1, 2016

        Allegedly, said wedding will happen in a redwood grove in the gardens. I’m REALLY looking forward to it! Eeep!

        xox

  • April 27, 2016

    Ahh you’re making me a little homesick! Even though I am not going back to Berkeley I was there for 8 years. I walked by that hotel SO many times on my way to restaurants in that area (especially Gather). Berkeley has an amazing restaurant culture and it is hard to get a bad meal. Having said that, I never tried Summer Kitchen, maybe because it was next to Ici which always had a line so I rarely went to.

    • May 1, 2016

      I still can’t believe you lived there all that time and WE NEVER MET. Blasphemy! (See you in Nashville in October. =) )

  • April 28, 2016
    grace b

    Ahhh you’re killing me with this one!! I lived in Berkeley from 2011 – 2012, which is where I met my fiance who is from Alameda. We’ve been living in Austin for the last almost four years but our last two trips in the last few months to the Bay Area to see friends and family (and attend a wedding at a winery in Sonoma!) had me thisclose to moving back. At the very least getting out there again is on my list this year…

    • May 1, 2016

      Ha! You could never get me to move back there but I do LOVE going for a (short) visit 😉 Being based in the East Bay did make me love the area a whole lot more than the frenetic pace (and the meter maids) of SF…

      • May 1, 2016
        grace b

        As an honorary southerner I will say that not seeing the sun for the 3 days I was there — not cool! 🙂 Whenever I’m in the city I always spend the most time in the Outer Sunset now (after having worked in SOMA) because it feels like the only place I can BREATHE! East Bay is pretty great though!

  • April 29, 2016

    Flowers in bloom, a gorgeous hotel (how do you keep finding these amazing spots?), and delicious food; what more could a girl want? 🙂

    • May 1, 2016

      Ha! I do a LOT of research on hotels and restaurants before visiting a city. Of course, in this case it helped that I had written more than a dozen guidebooks for Frommer’s (and others) on the area and knew the turf well!

  • May 1, 2016

    Great photos!

    Never been to west coast. Always seems so far away if you are coming from europe.

    This will definitely go on my list.

    Neno

    • May 1, 2016

      It really is! I love being based back in the South as I’m MUCH closer to Europe. When I lived in SF, I had to fly six hours just to get to New York! The upside was I was a lot closer to Australia/Asia than I am now.

  • May 1, 2016

    Aaaaaaah! So many colors! I love it!

    (And I’m also glad that you guys found a space to take a breath. Sounds like y’all needed it!)

    • May 1, 2016

      We did, we did! Now back to the chaos of real life 😉

  • May 1, 2016
    Cindy

    We live in the Walnut Creek area, and this snippet of Berkeley-love makes me want to get over there more often. We love Jupiter…now I want to just explore.

    Thanks!

    • May 1, 2016

      I didn’t spend nearly enough time in the East Bay during my four years in SF, but my sister-in-law lives in Albany so I plan to only stay in that area on all subsequent visits. Much calmer and more manageable than the city!

  • May 3, 2016

    Gorgeous photos! As a recent East-bay transplant, I’ve loved exploring Berkeley more, especially the beautiful neighborhoods. I’m a big advocator of Jupiter as well 🙂

  • May 10, 2016

    nice sharing Kristin!
    and those pic are really amazing.

  • January 4, 2017

    This hotel is really good !

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