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My adopted neighborhood for the weekend
A day trip to Berkeley? Think again. And pack a toothbrush.
Peggy Nauts, Photography by Alex Fradkin
APRIL 2008

If you think of North Berkeley as an afternoon outing, not a weekend escape, a stay at the tasteful Brick Path B&B might do for you what it’s done for me: change your mind. A block off Solano Avenue, it’s ideally located for walking. And as your newfound neighbors already know, wandering North Berkeley in the spring feels like being lost in a giant English garden. Sec ret pathways and hidden staircases lead from shady streets to proudly tended flowerbeds to terraced hillsides.

Head north from your front door and you trip over Solano, perfect for a low-key day of window-shopping. Go south, and you’re soon in the Gourmet Ghetto. In fact, some book a room at the Brick Path for the express purpose of making a pilgrimage to Chez Panisse. Guests with a coveted reservation can stroll to the brown-shingled mecca, spend a couple of decadent hours over dinner, and simply toddle back to bed.

But even without a table booked at Alice’s restaurant, I’m hardly deprived: I stop at the Cheese Board to buy sourdough English muffins or sheep’s-milk cheese; duck into the party atmosphere at César to booze it up and nibble tapas; or pick up French takeout, such as brandade and duck confit, at Grégoire. A few doors down from the collection of food shops at Epicu rious Garden, an elegant new day spa—Pan ache the Spa—woos foot-weary wanderers with everything from salt-scrub pedicures to haircuts-plus-color that put a new bounce in your step.

Come late afternoon, a cocktail from the extensive list at Solano’s chic burgundy-and-brick-walled Fonda is certainly in order. But not before roosting with a murder mystery in a cushy chair in the Brick Path’s pleasant garden. Does living in North Berkeley always feel like one long vacation?

Brick Path B&B: 1805 Marin Ave., Berkeley, 510-524-4277, thebrickpath.com, from $155; César: 1515 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, 510-883-0222, barcesar.com; Cheese Board: 1504 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, 510-549-3183, cheeseboardcollective.com; Chez Panisse: 1517 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, 510-548-5525, chezpanisse.com; Fonda: 1501 Solano Ave., Albany, 510-559-9006, fondasolana.com; Grégoire: 2109 Cedar St., Berkeley, 510-883-1893, gregoirerestaurant.com; Panache the Spa: 1539 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, 510-841-5555, panachethespa.com
original Web page:
http://www.sanfranmag.com/story/my-adopted-neighborhood-weekend


Reviews by the Guests ...

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“Fantastic B&B in Berkeley”
stars
The Brick Path Bed and Breakfast
From: voyagedumonde
Oct 4, 2009 | Trip type: Couples
I highly recommend The Brick Path Bed and Breakfast! Wendy Sprague is the caring host who knows all the secret spots (restaurants, shopping, getting around) within the city along with fixing a delicious homemade breakfast every morning…Fantastic Breakfast Jams!! The location is ideal, the gardens are enchanting, and The Fireplace Room was perfect! My wife and I will always remember the wonderful romantic week we spent at her inn.

Greg H.


“Charming B & B in a perfect location”stars
The Brick Path Bed and Breakfast

From: ObieTraveler
Oberlin, Ohio
Aug 11, 2009 | Trip type: Family
My second stay at The Brick Path -- this time for 10 days for a family event in Berkeley. I stayed in the Fireplace Room and my parents stayed in the Master Bedroom. Everything was just as I remembered it from our first visit in December 2006 -- except better because we we able to enjoy the lovely back garden to its fullest. Warm and cozy in a perfect location within walking distance of good restaurants, a great French bakery, coffee shops, a bookstore, and Andronico's -- an upscale grocery store with an abundant selection of prepared foods to go. And Wendy is a wonderful and gracious innkeeper!


“May be my favorite b & b of all time.” stars
The Brick Path Bed and Breakfast
From: Dappertutto
Aug 4, 2009 | Trip type: Couples
We're former Berkeley residents who came back for a reunion with friends. This place was perfect! Ideal location, quiet, beautifully decorated rooms, gorgeous gardens. What more can I add? All our friends---both the Berkeley residents and the other out-of-town visitors--trooped by for a look, and I think we may have generated a lot of future business for Wendy. But they'll need to reserve early---because we hope to make many return trips ourselves.


“Could not recommend this place more!” stars
The Brick Path Bed and Breakfast
From: gordonrink
Boston, Massachusetts
Apr 24, 2009 | Trip type: Family
My mother and I were in Berkeley for the weekend and stayed in the Master Suite. It was spacious ... the bathroom was fabulous, and the entire room was incredibly clean. I can still taste Wendy's granola!

The location was also great - very close to Solano, where we had long walks in the morning. Of particular importance is the proximity of the Peet's Coffee!! I was a bit concerned at first about the house being on such a busy road but in the room I honestly couldn't tell, it was so quiet.

I also wanted to mention that Wendy went above and beyond helping me and my mother print our boarding passes (we were spending our final day in Sonoma and were concerned about lines at the airport). This wasn't an easy process, but she was very patient and thoughtful, and clearly cares about her guests and not just providing a room.

In a nutshell I would stay here again in a heartbeat, and plan to do so at the very next opportunity!



“Idyllic retreat in the middle of Berkeley” stars
From: ACG26
USA
Mar 10, 2009 | Trip type: Couples
The Brick Path easily lived up to its reviews in Tripadvisor. Our room was large, comfortable, and quiet, and the garden was a wonderful place to sit and relax. We will never stay anywhere else in Berkeley.

“extraordinary personal attention to the comfort and needs of guests” stars
The Brick Path Bed and Breakfast
From: A_Cairn
California Bay Area
Mar 1, 2009 | Trip type: Business
As Program Chair for a local arts organization I am responsible for arranging accommodations for our monthly guest lecturers. Wendy Sprague at the Brick Path Bed & Breakfast has been an absolute treasure and it has been my absolute pleasure to work with her since 2007. Not only has she has helped us to coordinate our arrangements in a timely and seamless manner, but her personal attention to the comfort and individual needs of our guests has been extraordinary. Our visiting artists who have stayed at the Brick Path B & B have rated it ‘excellent’, without exception.

Rooms at the Brick Path Bed & Breakfast are invitingly decorated and the beautiful garden serves as a private oasis for guests. Although you may feel that you are in a secluded home, you are only steps away from a wonderful district where you can find a variety of restaurants, several coffee bars, bakeries, interesting shops and more.

Wendy Sprague has created a lovely ‘home away from home’ and I highly recommend the Brick Path Bed & Breakfast. If I didn’t live just one mile away, I would book a reservation for myself!



“Best B&B Ive ever stayed in!” stars
The Brick Path Bed and Breakfast
From: lonnirossi
Philadelphia, PA
Jan 30, 2009 | Trip type: Business

My first time traveling to San Francisco on business was made less stressful and turned into a very pleasant and comforting stay because of this wonderful oasis! The owner makes sure the place is clean, extremely comfortable, and safe.
And the gardens are just lovely!

I am a fabric designer from Philadelphia, PA, and was in the area teaching a surface design class. I was inspired by the sweet-smelling jasmine vine growing outside the door of my master suite, to create an original piece of fabric. (see photos)

My husband and I have been to many B&B's over the years and really, this one has to be at the top of my list ! Stay here...you will be inspired by the beauty of it too!

Thank you, Wendy!

Liked — cleanliness, comfort, privacy, location
Disliked — that I couldn't have stayed longer!



“The Fireplace Room” stars
The Brick Path Bed and Breakfast
From: outsidehimself
Los Angeles
Oct 16, 2008 | Trip type: Business, Solo travel
There are so many positive things to say about my last stay at the Brick Path that I hardly know where to begin. I stayed in the Fireplace Room, which is just off the main entrance. The room was beautifully furnished, spacious, and comfortable. The meditation garden in the back was lovely! The real suprise for me, however, was the beautiful piano that shares the room. It was a total treat to be able to play such a fine instrument. I had a very relaxing stay, and Wendy, the inn-keeper was fantastic.! She was very helpful in securing the accommodation and was also able to direct me to some of the local festivities. This place really captures the magic that is Berkeley, and I can't wait to stay there again!

Liked — The Piano
Disliked — Nothing bad to say


“Fabulous Accomodations, Dedicated Owner, Peaceful Oasis” stars
The Brick Path Bed and Breakfast

From: TheSeason
Francestown, NH
Sep 16, 2008 | Trip type: Business, Solo travel
Dear Wendy,

Everything worked out wonderfully.

Your cottage and gardens were the perfect haven for me. I cannot tell you what a peaceful and wonderful gift your Bed and Breakfast and you were.

I thank you for continuing to ensure that all of my needs were met, even though you were on vacation yourself (I felt badly that you had to keep bothering with me). You are an incredible hostess, even when not present!

I will definitely stay with you again, should I need to return.

Many thanks,
Ginger
Liked — Felt like home, comfortable. Beautiful gardens. Close to dining and conveniences.



“Perfect in all ways” stars
The Brick Path Bed and Breakfast
joeranger
vermont
Sep 15, 2008 | Trip type: Business, Solo travel
Wendy keeps a lovely spot in a perfect location. I stayed in the Fireplace Room, by myself, while in town for business, and couldn't have been happier. The room is lovely in every way, providing solace and comfort at the beginning and end of each day! The room had a small fridge, in which she put my yogurt/granola/fruit breakfast for each morning (great for an early riser). As the day dawned in this walker friendly, residential neighborhood, I enjoyed morning and evening walks up and around the area. I could walk uphiill towards Indian Rock for wonderful views, or along Solano Drive for shopping. Solano is just a few blocks in one direction (great shops and restaurants), and the Shattuck/Vine Road area is within a mile or two in the other direction- another great spot for shopping/eating. I recommend The Brick path for anyone visiting Berkeley, Oakland, Emeryville or San Fran. The B & B is on a rather main street for the area, but the passing traffic did not seem frantic or overly active, once the dinner hour passed.
Please stay here, It's hands down far better than any hotel in the area, in this price range.

Liked — style/cleanliness/roominess/location


“Best B&B in Berkeley” stars
The Brick Path Bed and Breakfast
From: 3viajeros
indiana
Mar 16, 2008 | Trip type: Business, Family
1/1 found this review helpful
We lived in Berkeley from 1994 until 1999. We get to visit Berkeley quite often and have stayed in different accomodations before. The Brick Path has been the best B&B we have stayed at
in Berkeley. It is a very beautiful place, peaceful and in a great location (a block from cafes, bakeries, grocery stores, restaurants, bookstores, etc and ten minutes from Indian Rock-offering one of the best views of the Bay). The host is always on top of things, extremely friendly and helpful. Rooms are kept in great shape. It is very clean. Garden is very beautiful, a great place to relax. This is the place to stay at in Berkeley!

“The Perfect Place For Us - Ottawa, Canada” stars
The Brick Path Bed and Breakfast
From: LJD53
Ottawa, Canada
Nov 11, 2007 | Trip type: Couples
2/2 found this review helpful
We travel to Berkeley 2 – 3 times each year to rest and rejuvenate and this is the perfect place for us! Our favourite is the East Meets West Cottage - a spacious, artistic and cozy space that supports our quiet interests of writing, reading, and tai chi while also being located in beautiful North Berkeley. We have also stayed in the Master Suite, The Garden View Suite and the San Mateo Road Suite. What is consistent is the combination of comfort with clean, colorful and creative design that is welcoming and refreshing. Wendy is fabulous - gracious, warm, respecting of privacy, generous and helpful.
Liked — The quality of the space

“Amazing B&B in Berkley!” stars
The Brick Path Bed and Breakfast

From: LazyWRanch
San Diego, California
Nov 6, 2007 | Trip type: Business, Couples
My fiance and I stayed at the Brick Path B&B while in Berkley on a business trip in September and cannot wait to return! Since we booked our stay at the last minute, we spent the first night in the East-Meets-West Cottage and the next two nights in the Fireplace Room (which was a real treat, since we were able to enjoy both!)

The East-Meets-West Cottage is a private cottage separate from the main house. It is wonderfully spacious with high ceilings, lots of windows, and a private sitting area in front just off the main garden. It was the perfect retreat after a busy day of meetings and travel. If you prefer a more private setting, the East-Meets-West Cottage is a terrific choice.

The Fireplace Room was truly our favorite. The Fireplace Room is in the main house and is adorned with a large stone fireplace, cozy sitting area, and an antique piano. The room is so cozy, warm, and inviting, it was next to impossible to leave in the mornings! Whether you stay at the Brick Path for business, pleasure, or even a romantic getaway, the Fireplace Room is the perfect place to begin and end every day.

A stay at the Brick Path B&B would not be complete without mention of Wendy's amazing breakfasts. Although our schedule was different every morning (one morning, my fiance left at 5:30AM), Wendy always made sure that we started our day with a good breakfast including fresh fruits, scones and muffins, fresh cereals, yogurt, eggs, and juice (you'll be hard pressed to finish it all!). Wendy is a truly accommodating host and goes out of her way to make sure that her guests begin and end their days with loving attention.

Finally, the Brick Path is located just 1 block from Solano Avenue, a popular Berkley destination filled with a wide variety of neighborhood restaurants, bakeries, shops, markets, and a movie theatre. Everything is in easy walking distance and the neighborhood setting creates a wonderfully relaxing environment. Also, be sure not to miss Vanessa's Bistro, an unbelievable restaurant with phenomenal food and impeccable, friendly service (we went back twice!).

Thank you, Wendy, for a wonderful say in Berkeley and we can't wait to see you on our next trip to the Bay Area!


“Great place to stay in Berkeley” stars
The Brick Path Bed and Breakfast
From: chattlady
Chattanooga
Sep 6, 2007 | Trip type: Couples
1/1 found this review helpful
We stayed two nights at the Brick Path this past weekend and are so glad that we did! Wendy does an excellent job of making you feel comfortable and at home. The house is in a beautiful neighborhood and in walking distance to Solano Ave. shops and restaurants. She did a terrific job of steering us towards Fonda's Tapas restaurant for dinner after the Cal-UT game and it was terrific! The room which had a piano in it was very comfortable and the bed ultra comfy! Would definitely stay there again.
“Wonderful Berkeley B&B” stars
The Brick Path Bed and Breakfast

From: Texastravelers07
Dallas
Jul 16, 2007
1/1 found this review helpful
Such a wonderful five-day experience all the way around. The accomodations were spacious, clean and quiet. Breakfast was great every morning. Wendy was terriffic and always willing to assist with things to do and great places to eat, which are in abundance in this area. Lots of shops within walking distance, too. I would highly recommend staying here, and we fully intend to return the next time we are in the area.


“The Best B&B You Will Ever Find” stars
The Brick Path Bed and Breakfast
From: Gaby1915
Orlando
Jul 3, 2007 | Trip type: Business, Solo travel
It's so beautiful here you won't want to open the gate and go out into the city!
This is a lovely bed and breakfast in a beautiful house on a quiet street in Berkeley, a short walk from shopping on fabulous Solano Avenue. Close to public transportation, so it's an easy ride into San Francisco.
I stayed here for a week at the end of June/beginning of July 2007. The owner couldn't have been more gracious, helpful and accommodating. The Fireplace Room was lovely and comfortable, and the bed truly luxurious. Beautifully maintained garden and house, great service; you will never regret coming here. The breakfasts are delicious and very nourishing, with lots of choices. I will always remember the wonderful, truly magical and peaceful garden.
This is your oasis in the middle of whatever hectic journey you're on. And the rates are very affordable for business or pleasure travelers.
I plan to go back again and again.
Liked — Everything
“Hard to find, worth the search” stars
The Brick Path Bed and Breakfast

From: TankT  
chicago, illinois
Dec 8, 2006 | Trip type: Couples
2/2 found this review helpful
What a great, hidden bed and breakfast in Berkeley, CA. We went to visit our daughter, and were completely delighted with the room. We were in the Fireplace Room; it was completely private, cozy, WONDERFUL bed, and even a working piano and cello! The location is perfect, a very short walk to every type of store and restaurant you might need. You can have breakfast delivered in your room, and eat with the fireplace going, and the morning sun streaming in. There is coffee and tea in the room, along with a small refrigerator. Near enough to campus, but very quiet (a small amount of street noise, no problem). Wendy, the proprietor, seems to have thought of everything, and if there is anything you want, she will help you get it!

Overall, this felt like a real "find".
Liked — very comfortable, great location


“Perfect Ending to our trip!” stars
The Brick Path Bed and Breakfast

From: Krallannicci's  
Pennsylvania
Dec 6, 2006 | Trip type: Couples
1/2 found this review helpful
My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the Brick Path! The bed was super comfy and we loved lighting up the fireplace. Having tea and coffee in our room was such a treat. And we enjoyed having Solano Avenue so close, so we could indulge in our favorite morning buns from La Farine.

It was the perfect ending to our trip!
Liked — fireplace and proxmimity to Solano Avenue


“Cozy B&B in Berkeley” stars
The Brick Path Bed and Breakfast
From: Rinney
Carlsbad
Dec 4, 2006 | Trip type: Couples
3/3 found this review helpful
We thoroughly enjoyed our stay in the cottage. The bed was one of the most comfortable we had ever slept in. That, along with the quiet surroundings, made for three very restful nights. Although we didn’t cook while we were there, the kitchen was so well stocked with utensils, dishes, a stove, a microwave, a refrigerator, a toaster, and even a toaster oven that we could have easily prepared all of our own meals. The cottage is set up with all of the comforts of home. It has a futon to sit in while watching TV and a small table and chairs to sit in while eating home-cooked meals, writing letters, etc. There is also a private patio right outside the cottage that has a table and chairs right next to beautiful gardens. The location couldn’t be more perfect. A block away there is a market, restaurants, and all types of shopping opportunities. We were able to eat at a nearby restaurant, take a walk in the scenic Berkeley Hills, and end up in a beautiful oak-filled park tucked away among residences. Best of all was the friendly, helpful manner of the innkeeper, Wendy Sprague. She made us feel most welcome and was always available if we needed anything. We highly recommend the cottage or the other units that Wendy manages to anyone visiting the Berkeley area.
Liked — Quiet and comfortable
Disliked — Nothing
Tips/Secrets: — It's a great place!
“We love the Brick Path Bed and Breakfast” stars
The Brick Path Bed and Breakfast
From: facesplus
Pleasanton, CA
Nov 24, 2006
1/1 found this review helpful
A Wonderful Time
The Brick Path Bed and Breakfast
Berkeley, California
Our stay at The Brick Path was incredible. Wendy enthusiastically and immediately made us feel at home in the cottage. The cottage was delightful and contained everything we needed, from pans to dishes to silverware, so we made a wonderful dinner there. We enjoyed our own private patio, and each morning Wendy arrived promptly to bring our breakfast tray.
Of special interest were the gardens and we took many pictures there to help us with the design of our own gardens at home.
Another plus was the location-just a couple of blocks from wonderful Solano Avenue in Albany and the many shops, restaurants and theaters there.
We can't wait to go back and enjoy time there with Wendy and the gardens again very soon. We give the Brick Path our highest rating and endorsement. Elmer & Sandy Guderyon.

“Loved the cottage at the Brick Path in Berkeley” stars
The Brick Path Bed and Breakfast
A TripAdvisor Member
Dallas, Texas
Jul 18, 2006
0/1 found this review helpful
My daughter lives in Berkeley and checked out the Brick Path for her family to stay there for her wedding. My mom and I stayed 6 nights in The Cottage and my son and his wife 3 nites in the Master Bedroom. Wendy Sprague, the owner, is wonderful and thoughtful and serves amazing breakfasts. We loved every second and also loved how close we were to everything we were doing with family in Berkeley. I recommend this place to anyone who wants quiet and a wonderful neighborhood. We will stay here again for sure!

“A very cozy B&B” stars
The Brick Path Bed and Breakfast

A TripAdvisor Member
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Jan 31, 2006

Imagine spending 5 nights in a room with a fireplace and having breakfast served to you in your room. Imagine being able to choose what you have for breakfast from a prepared list and you just check the item and write the quantity, for instance I love scones, so I asked for 3 scones and I got 3 different types of scones, my favorite was the lemon flavored scone; was also served freshly cut fruit served in a bowl. The fixings for coffee and tea are in your room plus dishes, glasses, utensils and a small fridge. So if you want to invite friends or colleagues into your room for some wine and cheese, no sweat. You just walk one block to Solano Avenue where you'll find a variety of restaurants, a movie theater, specialty coffee shops, Andronico's grocery store, a pastry shop, gift shops, clothing stores and more. Wendy also has a very nice courtyard with tables and chairs placed here and there, so that one can just sit and ruminate... A magnificent magnolia tree was in full bloom just outside my window.

The bedroom is charmingly decorated, the bed is firm and very comfortable, you have cable tv, wireless internet and a phone for unlimited local calls. You also have a private bathroom with a great shower.

And your hostess, Wendy, so friendly and helpful. Wendy has prepared an sheet with some essential info, so useful for the stranger in town. If I come to Berkeley again, I'll definitely stay at The Berkeley Brick Path B&B. Personally, I believe this is an ideal room for a professional who comes to town on business, for a university professor who comes to UC Berkeley to lecture, or for anyone just wanting to visit Berkeley.

By the way, I have a B&B in Montreal, so I can appreciate a great B&B, and this place is superb.