Shattuck Hotel Officially Opens in Downtown Berkeley

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday September 24, 2009 - 06:02:00 PM
Josh Buckelew, Hotel Shattuck Plaza’s welcome ambassador, greets guests outside the hotel Wednesday.
Riya Bhattacharjee
Josh Buckelew, Hotel Shattuck Plaza’s welcome ambassador, greets guests outside the hotel Wednesday.
Hotel Shattuck Plaza owner Perry Patel inside the hotel’s remodeled lobby and bar.
Riya Bhattacharjee
Hotel Shattuck Plaza owner Perry Patel inside the hotel’s remodeled lobby and bar.
The renovated interior of the Hotel Shattuck Plaza.
Riya Bhattacharjee
The renovated interior of the Hotel Shattuck Plaza.

The Shattuck Hotel has been born again. The 100-year-old six-story landmark, Berkeley’s oldest hotel, officially reopened Thursday, Sept. 24, with much fanfare after a two-year, multi-million-dollar remodeling effort.  

The block between Shattuck and Milvia on Allston Way was closed momentarily for a ribbon-cutting ceremony that was attended by Berkeley Councilmember Linda Maio, Berkeley Visitors and Convention Bureau President Barbara Hillman and community members and followed by a performance by the UC Berkeley a capella group Decadence. 

As the guests made their way into the revamped lobby, which opens up into a mirrored oval-shaped bar flanked by the bistro Five, they caught glimpses of the building’s bygone era, including the 100-year-old red and white crystal chandelier, high columns and ornate molding wrapped around the ceiling. 

Gone are the old carpets, creaky furniture and cracked paint. Everything from the white marble floors to the landscaped courtyard to the quaint iPod docks at the new Hotel Shattuck Plaza exudes modern chic. 

Owner and UC Berkeley alumni Perry Patel of BPR Properties, who bought the Shattuck Hotel from independent hotelier Sanjeev Kakkar in 2007, said he had wanted the new design to be “timeless.” 

“I wanted to preserve and honor the hotel’s history,” Patel said, standing next to his father and siblings in the hotel’s 2,800-square-foot Crystal Ballroom. “We have brought back the jewel in the downtown’s crown.” 

Patel said that when he took over the Shattuck Hotel, he envisioned it as a four-star boutique hotel, sleek, but not too modern, classy but not too stiff.  

Designers Thom Jess of Arris Architects, Ziv Davis and historical architect Mark Hulbert subtly pulled details from Berkeley’s history into the hotel’s interior, choosing a red and mauve 1960s flower-power pattern for the hallway carpets—without making it too psychedelic—and strategically placing framed pictures of Berkeley street life and the Campanile inside each of the hotel’s 199 rooms. 

But perhaps nothing gets more Berkeley at the Hotel Shattuck Plaza than the huge peace symbol emblazoned on the floor of its vaulted foyer, greeting guests as they make their way up an equally stylish ramp to the lobby. 

The architects also preserved the hotel’s exterior arches and tall glass windows, bringing back the building’s original cream tones that blend with the surrounding.  

The hotel’s rooms—some of which offer sweeping views of the bay—have been occupied since June, and Scott Howard, the chef at Five, has been treating patrons to his signature contemporary American cuisine served with a twist. 

“We are very proud and happy to be in Berkeley and look forward to investing in our staff and our community in order to provide an exciting experience and return,” said Euan Taylor, who hails from Scotland and was hired by Patel as the Shattuck Hotel’s general manager. “We’d like to make our hotel a destination. I think it’s a great asset we can give back to the community.” 

Taylor worked with the Four Seasons chain for a number of years before moving to the Bay Area. 

Most of the hotel’s clients are people visiting the university or Lawrence Berkeley National Lab on business, although Patel is offering attractive discounts on fall packages named Cal! and Touchdown Bears (which reduces the room rate by 2 percent for every touchdown the Bears score that weekend) ranging from $131 to $169 per night. And unlike in the past, every single room has a private bathroom—no more late-night trudges down the hallway.  

Heather Smith, a sales coordinator for the hotel, said a UC Berkeley graduate student recently rented out the Presidential Suite for his wedding reception. 

“Before it was more of a residential property—there were a lot of people living here,” she said. “It had classic furniture and it tried to look old. We hope our modern amenities will draw both Berkeley residents and students and their families.” 

Champagne, flowers and balloons dotted the lobby, and as the last of the invited guests left the hotel around noon, Patel finally sat down with his family for lunch. 

He admitted that the ride hadn’t always been easy. 

Although Patel received a green light on the project from both the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board and the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the going got rough when the building was red-tagged for a fire code violation during the renovation in 2007, following which he had to settle with several of Kakkar’s tenants for an undisclosed amount to get them to leave the building. 

“You have to take all those things in stride,” Patel said smiling. “This is a really powerful city, very dynamic, and as an alumni it’s just great to come back. I have great memories of the hotel, but for the last 20 years no one has mentioned it. We are here to take it back where it belongs.”