In Cozy Claremont
Story and photos by Greg Aragon
laremont is only about 30 miles from my home in Pasadena, but my recent
trip to the sleepy college town transported me much farther away, to
a relaxing and beautiful place reminiscent of a mountain resort community
with touches of Spain.
My getaway to Claremont
began when a friend and I checked into a luxurious suite at Casa 425,
a Spanish-styled boutique hotel in the heart of the town square. Replete
with a red tiled roof, white stucco exterior, classic Spanish arches,
and an interior, tree-lined plaza courtyard, the 28-room hotel is an
alluring structure in the small town, located at the base of the San
Casa 425 brings Spanish charm to the small college
town of Claremont
The rooms at Casa 425 are no less grand. Our second-floor
accommodations featured a large glass-wall entry way that overlooked
the hotel's lounge and courtyard. Inside the suite we found a huge soaking
tube, separating the living room from the bathroom. Other room highlights
included a comfy king bed, with down comforter and fine linens, large
wall-mounted TV, separate shower, small refrigerator, coffee maker,
and free wireless Internet.
Besides well-appointed rooms, the hotel also offers
a complimentary European breakfast, and boasts Casa 425 Lounge &
Bar. This signature hang-out has a full bar and serves savory small
plates in an intimate setting, with a cozy indoor room and outdoor seating
in the courtyard, surrounded by glass fire pits and heat lamps.
Across the street from the hotel is the Packing
House, the largest historic building in the Claremont Village. With
scores of restaurants, shops and businesses located under its metal
roof, it has become one of the hottest destinations in town.
The historic Packing House is a reminder of Claremont's
rich agricultural past
The history of the Packing House began in 1890s, when
Claremont was a major fruit-growing area. Around this time, local growers
founded the state's first agricultural cooperative and built the Packing
House in 1922 to process fruit, pack it in boxes with distinctive commercial
art labels and then ship it around the world. But as local orchards
disappeared, the Packing House eventually shut down in 1972 and stood
empty until the city purchased the building and restored it in 2007.
Today, the Claremont Packing House is a centerpiece
of the community, with historic architecture mixing with fine dining,
jazz concerts, stand-up comedy, hip boutiques, wine tastings, art classes,
art walks and festivals.
After touring the Packing House, my friend and I strolled
a few blocks through town to dinner at Viva
Madrid, an authentic Spanish restaurant teeming with tasty tapas
in a colorful, home-styled, antique store-type setting.
Viva Madrid an authentic Spanish restaurant teeming
with tasty tapas
Our meal began with Gamba al Ajillo, a favorite tapa
in Spain, with shrimp cooked in garlic, white wine, parsley, lemon juice,
and extra virgin olive oil. Next we devoured Espárragos con Salmon,
a delightful dish of asparagus wrapped with smoked salmon. Continuing
down the extensive tapas list, we enjoyed Croquetas de Pesaco tapas,
with crab, shrimp, tuna, onions, and bread crumbs; followed by Calamares
con Chorizo, which is squid stuffed with chorizo in an onion, herb,
While eating we sipped Estrella de Galicia, a smooth,
refreshing Spanish beer, and admired the restaurants Spanish-styled
décor, with large, old wooden front door, wooden chairs, a faux
balcony, and walls lined with a bulls head, swords, sculptures,
mirrors and paintings.
After dinner we walked back through The Village and
stopped at the Coffee Bean for mini- bear claw and a cup of coffee.
We ate our dessert on a bench in the beautiful plaza, located behind
Casa 425. Surrounded by shops, restaurants, and a movie theater, this
outdoor area, is a great place to relax while visiting Claremont.
Casa 425 is located at 425 West First Street, Claremont,
CA 91711. For more information on staying at Casa 425 and on current
specials and rates, visit: www.casa425.com
or call 866-450-0425. For more information on visiting Claremont, visit:
Charm, Culture and Cuisine in Claremont; Wine,
Pâté and Famous Rocks in Rustic Los Angeles; Desert
Oasis at Morongo Casino Resort & Spa; Rancho
Mirage, Palm Springs Desert; Big
Bear Lake in the Fall