Historic Hotels: Two New California Inductees

Inns in San Francisco and Berkeley are now part of the esteemed group.

Historic Hotels of America

AN ELEGANT OXYMORON: Saying there's a new historic hotel in the region is akin to ordering jumbo shrimp or sharing an open secret or using any of the common not-quite-sensical phrases we go to so often. Historic hotels, after all, need time to build upon the whole "historic" part, as anything labeled historic must. But the "new" label comes into play when a landmark inn, one with plentiful tales to tell and great esteem, is welcomed into an organization known for promoting venerable gems, places that have seen a decade or five or eight. The Historic Hotels of America, which is billed as "the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation," regularly welcomes inns of stature into its fold, a fold that includes some of the grandest dames in all the land. Some 22 hotels gained membership with the organization in 2015, including two in California. While the pair are not neighbors, you can travel between the duo in under an hour, if you've got a boat or a bridge or a BART train handy. They're located in...

SAN FRANCISCO AND BERKELEY: So hello to you, Fairmont Heritage Place, Ghirardelli Square, and greetings Claremont Club & Spa, A Fairmont Hotel. If you know the founding dates on these two storied structures, then you know that both are over a century old; well, the Claremont is, by a year, with a start date of 1915, while the Ghirardelli Square landmark was founded in 1890, making it the oldest of the new members. There we go again, with the oxymoron-type statements: "The oldest of the new members." But it is a reminder that it matters not if a building has weathered a century or more. It is still a vital and bustling place, a spot that serves many guests, a historical document that's an actual destination. To see all of the recently inducted Historic Hotels of America members, catch an old-timey trolley or motorcoach now, one that's headed straight for the organization's main online HQ.

AS FOR GAINING MEMBERSHIP? Oh, it's an interesting route, with a few ways in and boxes to check, but here's just one path: You -- if you're a hotel -- should be at least 50 years old. A hotel that's been around for a half century, then, is the newbie of the bunch. Fascinating food for thought.

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