A Magical Holiday Staycation at Berkeley's Claremont Club & Spa - 510 Families
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A Magical Holiday Staycation at Berkeley’s Claremont Club & Spa

The Claremont Club & Spa invited my family to enjoy some of the Holidays in the Hills activities and stay overnight. All opinions are those of my children and family. TLDR: We had a ton of fun!

hotel in the hills
The Castle in the Hills, the Claremont Club & Spa is a Berkeley institution | Photo: Claremont Club & Spa

Making holiday magic happen for your family doesn’t have to mean flying or driving to far-off lands. Save on travel and splurge on a fabulous staycation full of holiday fun and enchanting views of the Bay at the Castle in the Hills. My family — including four kids 11 and under — and I recently stayed overnight at the Claremont Club & Spa and enjoyed some of their holiday offerings. And even though we were just a few miles from home, it felt like we were on a fancy vacation without all the travel headaches.

Claremont’s Holidays in the Hills

Claremont overhead view of glice rink and pizza ovens
Overhead view of Glice rink and pizza oven at Five Palms | Photo: A Weaver for the Claremont Club & Spa

The Five Palms Ice Rink, now through February

Does ice skating outside without the freezing cold ice sound enticing? As a parent to little kids, it sounds genius to me. The Five Palms Ice at the Claremont is exactly that: a special eco-friendly, Swiss-engineered Glice skating rink that looks like ice but is more like plastic (almost as hard on the tush when you fall). It does take a little practice to get used to it, similar to real ice skating (but in some ways harder). Three out of four of my kids absolutely loved it, as did my husband. I found it a bit tricky myself, but I’ve never been known for my coordination.

Learn all about Glice >>

father and son ice skating
Glice skating at the Claremont outdoor rink | Photo: Julie Herson

The Glice rink is open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from November 18 through February 2023.  Adults cost $24, kids, $12. (Save $4 when you bring your own ice skates. No toe picks permitted). They also have a pizza oven outside by the rink baking up some pretty tasty pies, along with adult and kid beverages. Purchase a cookie decorating kit or a round of s’mores from the snack chalet to pump up the holiday magic even more. More info here >

s'mores
Grab a s’mores kit and some hot cocoa after you finish Glicing at the Claremont | Photo: Claremont Club & Spa

ProTip: They’re open Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Year’s if you’re looking for a fun mixed generation holiday activity when most places are closed. 

Gingerbread House Decorating, certain December Saturdays

gingerbread house child and adult
Start with a built gingerbread house and decorate it with all the trimmings | Photo: Heather Flett

This is one of those things that you have to try at least once if you have little kids. Each ticket provides one large gingerbread house kit – icing, sprinkles, and all the tools you need to create your masterpiece. Advanced reservations are required; the cost is $135 per ticket and that covers one giant house. Only offered on December 3, 10, and 17. Reserve tickets here >

Holiday Tea is served weekends throughout December

Claremont tea food
The Holiday Tea service is kid-friendly yet still elegant and super tasty | Photo: Claremont Club & Spa

No need to head to San Francisco for this special holiday tradition. Head to the Lobby Bar and indulge in the classic high-tea delicacies, including delightful desserts and petite sandwiches.  Available on Saturdays and Sundays, December 3 – 24. Seating from 1 pm until 3:30 pm. Adults | $125 (includes one glass of sparkling wine); Children (6 – 12) | $75. Make reservations here >

More Holiday Tea options around the Bay Area >>

Claremont Pool and Resort Amenities

kid jumping into pool
The year-round heated pools at the Claremont are super kid-friendly | Photo: Claremont Club & Spa

If you have time outside of the fun holiday activities during an overnight hotel stay, you’ll want to access all the resort offers like three heated year-round pools, tennis courts, and three complimentary hours of Kids’ Club per day. We didn’t have a chance to visit the pools, but we’re planning to come back sometime soon. Because let’s be real, all kids really need to be happy on vacation is a swimming pool. Read more about the Resort Services here >>

The Rooms at the Claremont are super nice

claremont hotel room
The suites at the Claremont are roomy with space to relax as a family | Photo: Claremont Club & Spa

The rooms are spacious and refined, with comfy beds and fabulous views (make sure to request a Bay View). You can also request connecting rooms if that makes sense for your family. But that’s just what the adults care about. For the kiddos, the beds are big and fluffy with plenty of pillows, the views are exciting and TVs are big and have plenty of content, including Chromecast. You can order room service to keep things simple, including some scrumptious (and huge) chocolate chip cookies with cold milk. If you have little ones, cribs are also available upon request. More details about rooms and suites here >>

Holiday & Wintertime Dinners

We enjoyed some delicious pizza from the outdoor wood-fired oven after our Glicing escapades. They also have s’mores kits, hot cocoa, wine, and all the goodies for a special day or evening with the family.

crowd eating outside
Enjoy pizza, wine, hot cocoa, s’mores, and more outside by the Glice rink at the Claremont | Photo: Julie Herson

But if you’re looking for something a bit more formal, the Limewood Restaurant is a great option. They even have Christmas Dinner (or Brunch), as well as everyday dining. If you prefer a to-go option, Claremont’s catering team at East Bay Provisions has a Family sized Prime Rib dinner that looks amazing.

christmas dinner
A delectable feast prepared just for you | Photo: Claremont Club & Spa

The Bottom Line on Claremont Club & Spa for families

tile floor with peoples shoes
Even the elevator is fancy at the Claremont Club & Spa | Photo: Julie Herson

We had a blast the Claremont. It was fancy but relaxed, with a low-key elegance that made everything feel special. From the Glice rink, al fresco dining, views, and ubiquitous holiday magic, we had such a memorable time as a family with minimal effort as far as planning and traveling. If only every vacation could be as simple to execute as our stay at the Claremont. Yes, it’s not cheap, but for all that you save on planes, trains, and automobiles, the cost feels reasonable as far as fancy goes. We look forward to going back in the summer and splashing around in the pools!

view of tennis courts and bay
Early morning view from our room at the Claremont | Photo: Julie Herson

Plan your visit to the Claremont Club & Spa

Location: 41 Tunnel Road, Berkeley
Contact: Telephone: +1 510 843 3000 | Toll Free Reservations: + 1 888 560 4455 | claremont@fairmont.com
Website >

Check out our Bay Area Staycation Guide for more places to explore.

Thank you again to The Claremont Club & Spa for hosting my family of six for Holidays in the Hills activities and an overnight stay.

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