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the claremont hotel club and spaaaaaaa

Claremont Hotel seats

Don’t you just want to settle into one of these chairs?

Some travel destinations are, apparently, meant to be. For me, recently, it was the Claremont Hotel Club and Spa.

My daughter had to be in Berkeley a couple of weekends ago and I offered to drive up the coast with her so we could have a mother-daughter road trip and also spend some time with my sister and her family, who live in Northern California. I invited my sister for a spa day to celebrate her new Master’s degree (yay, Sheila!) and asked her to choose a place.

She immediately texted that she had always wanted to try the Claremont. I told her I’d look into it and – voila! What shows up in my inbox an hour later? A press release from the Claremont about their new Beat the Heat summer package! A sign? I mean, seriously, what are the chances?

Sara and I checked into the hotel, which has a beautiful, old-world charm that makes it feel like you’re back at one of those seaside resorts from the golden age of travel. But with wi-fi.

The hotel, perched high above San Francisco, has a glorious, storied past (be sure to read about the woman who was awarded free drinks for life), beginning with a farmer who struck it rich during the Gold Rush and moved his family out to California to build a castle. Since then, legends like Louis Armstrong and Count Basie have entertained in the Garden Room and thousands of guests have added memories to their own personal histories.

After touring the grounds, which feature three mineral-treated outdoor pools, Sara and I spent the whole evening in our cheery room because it was so comfortable and had such stunning views (hello, Golden Gate Bridge), we couldn’t rationalize leaving. We stretched out on the beds and snuggled in for Season 2 of Orange is the New Black.

Claremont Hotel view

The view from our hotel room.

We ordered mozzarella sticks and the movie package (popcorn, peanut M&Ms and Diet Coke) from room service and, although it was definitely pricey, we were too content to stress over it. The waiter brought the snacks and, when he returned with the mozzarella sticks, he apologized profusely for not bringing them at the same time, which hadn’t bothered us at all, and he gave us another movie package for free! Now, that is exceptional service!

The next day, we met my sister for lunch on the scenic deck of the hotel’s Paragon restaurant, where we gobbled up dishes like shrimp and watermelon salad and grilled chicken Caprese sandwiches with garlic fries. Soooo good.

After a teary goodbye to Sara (well, I cried), she headed off for her new life and Sheila and I headed to the spa. I have to give a big shout-out to Janelle at the front desk there for basically performing a miracle the day before when I went to confirm our appointments and they were completely screwed up (from our end, not theirs). Without blinking an eye, she asked me to just give her a minute and she somehow worked the schedule like a Rubik’s cube – “expert level,” Sara added – and got us exactly what we had originally wanted.

So, now, here she was, welcoming us for our appointments with special goody bags filled with spa products, and it was all I could do not to give her a big hug.

Claremont Hotel goody bags

Look how happy and relaxed my sister is!

Sheila and I quickly donned our robes so we could hang out for some sister time, and then she was picked up for her hot stone massage and I was escorted to my Lomi Lomi, a traditional Hawaiian treatment in which therapists use plumeria and fresh ginger oils to accompany long, full body strokes.

As a spa aficionado – ooh, I think I should add that to my business card – I like to try new treatments, and this one was so relaxing and just different enough. Rather than focusing on one body part at a time (I’m usually listing in my head, “right leg,” “left leg,” etc. and get sadder as I know we’re approaching the last area left before my massage is over), Lomi Lomi is more free flowing, and therapists often incorporate the whole body with each stroke, using their elbows, wrists and knuckles in addition to fingers to rid the body of toxins and negative energy, and bring a sense of balance and harmony.  Basically, it left me feeling like mush, my preferred post-massage state.

Once Sheila and I had gone through our own signature spa ritual, which involves a lot of smiling at each other and purring and sleepy-eyed comparisons of our treatments, we headed for the showers. Janelle’s colleague, Tiffany, who also deserves a shout-out, had recommended we tried the Deluge, which features 30 gallons of water pouring down on you. It was awesome.

We then spent a few minutes in the eucalyptus steam room, which is one of my favorite places because it is the only time my head and sinuses actually feel clear.

From there, we took real showers, and let me tell you this was the best shower I’ve ever taken in my whole 55 years on earth. I know you’ll think I’m exaggerating – until you try it yourself. You can choose from 10 showerheads which each hit different areas of the body – I, of course, turned them all on – and, if we hadn’t been in a little bit of a rush to get dinner and get me to the airport, I’d probably still be in that shower right now.

As I sit here typing this now, with that soothing pillow wrapped around my neck – thank you again, Janelle! – I am trying to encourage my muscles to remember how relaxed they felt that day. And I’m totally understanding why someone would write about leaving their heart in San Francisco. I bet it’s still luxuriating in the spa at the Claremont Hotel.


  1. My ex gave me a robe from there years ago but I haven’t gone. Maybe for our anniversary this year!

  2. Thats so true about the “listing” of body parts during a massage is also a countdown to “over.” The Lomi Lomi treatment sounds like a great alternative!

  3. You were in my nabe! Love that spa. Even though I live 5 minutes from the Claremont, the second I step in the lobby, I could be a million miles away! Glad you gals had fun!!

  4. That sounds like quite the getaway! Maybe someday I’ll get a chance to stay there.

  5. That sounds heavenly! I am in need of a spa day!

  6. Jessica @EatSleepBe says:

    Those spa treatments sound absolutely heavenly. I am so envious of your relaxing getaway!

  7. I want to go on a travel day with you.

  8. Sounds luscious. Another Lois moment. So wonderful and magical.

  9. sounds like a slice of heaven to me!! gorgeous hotel

  10. What a great get away! I would love to go there on a vacation someday with my girl friends. Thanks for the idea.

  11. That place looks amazing!! I want to go!! I would love a spa treatment!! Might need to plan a girls trip!

  12. This looks like a beautiful place to visit. And a lovely place for weddings also. I was only in San Fran once and it was for a day…not nearly enough time. Hope to make it back there again someday.

  13. How perfect, mother/daughter, sister/sister and spa treatments! I almost felt like I was there too, but darn it I wasn’t. I love to experience different showers, one of the thrill of traveling and spaaing.

  14. Sounds like the perfect hotel to stay in for a weekend getaway. I am jealous 🙂 If I ever get out to California, I will have to stay there.

  15. This sounds like an awesome place to stay! I would love to spend some time in that spa.

  16. That sounds so wonderful. I could use a massage right now. Sigh…..

  17. This place looks fabulous! I so need a spa day too!

  18. Wow this place sounds amazing! I wish I was closer I would totally spend the weekend there!

  19. a spa day sounds wonderful, glad they made your visit right even with your error. impressive.

  20. Sounds like a nice day of pampering, I wouldn’t want to leave!

  21. Really nice place. I would love to go there.

  22. The Claremont Hotel Club and Spa sounds like my kind of place. I’ll have to check it out on my travels.

  23. Looks like you girls had a blast! I have never been to San Fran. I’ll have to add it to my list!

  24. This looks divine! I need a trip to the spa.

  25. What a lovely spa! Your sister looks tickled pink, and it sounds like you had a great time

  26. So glad you had such a nice time! I could really go for some serious relaxation, myself 🙂

  27. Maria Oller says:

    The place looks wonderful and that view looks amazing. Would love a spa weekend there

  28. Sounds like a great place to relax at. Sounds like you had a great time from your review and maybe you’ll get to go again one day.

  29. The 30 gallons of water followed by a shower with TEN settings sounds almost as wonderful as the Lomi Lomi…. Thanks for introducing these must dos!

  30. Your timing could not be better! My son and daughter-in-law recently moved to San Francisco and I was wondering if there was a good local spa. I’m checking this place out. THANKS from a fellow spa afficionado (heading off to the Lodge at Woodloch in the Poconos this weekend!)

  31. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    Oh my, does that sound amazing. Just the massage alone would be enough to entice me there. Next time I’m in San Francisco …

  32. Mother daughter spa days are my favorite. I’ll add this one to my list (I’m only an hour away). Try Indian Springs in Calistoga…not as fancy, but just as relaxing. Plus, wine.

  33. A weekend at the Spa sounds heavenly right about now. Sounds like you had a great time and this sounds like a wonderful place to go for a getaway!

  34. The Lomi Lomi massage sounds delightful. A must-try. Not sure about the 30 gallons of water pouring down on you. But I’ll take your word for it. Glad you had such a wonderful time with your daughter and your sister.

  35. This spa experience lives up to the spaaaaaaa name you gave it. The chairs in the beginning of the post had me hooked and the view from your room just pushed me over the edge.

  36. Looks blissful! I need a spa!!!

  37. Not only am I ready to visit, I’m ready to move in! The view from the hotel room is wonderful and the way you’ve described everything sounds like a slice of heaven.

  38. That sounds like a great way to recharge.

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