With a gorgeous setting at the foot of the Santa Lucia Mountains, and home to an equally photogenic 18th-century Spanish mission, San Luis Obispo is a Californian city beloved for its award-winning wine, farm-fresh food and outdoor adventure possibilities, with a matching range of accommodation options for foodies, nature lovers and history buffs.
Our collection of San Luis Obispo hotels ranges from colonial-style properties overlooking the Nine Sisters volcanic mountains to retro motels and boutique art hotels, ideally situated if you’re looking to absorb SLO’s colonial past at the History Center, explore its art scene at the Just Looking Gallery or simply enjoy the fruits of the area’s acclaimed food and wine producers.
La Quinta Inn and Suites by Wyndham San Luis Obispo
A quinta is a Spanish country estate, and this eye-catching hotel, with its spiky angles and classy minimalist suites, is a modern take on that brief. With views of the Santa Lucia Mountains looming in the background and the walking trails of South Hills nearby, this is a great choice for outdoorsy types, but downtown SLO – with its gorgeous Spanish mission and museum of local art – is right on your doorstep, too.
Quirky and colorful are two words that come to mind when describing the iconic Madonna Inn, which has 110 flamboyant rooms, each one themed differently – examples include Old Mexico, Harvard Square and Country Gentleman. The exuberance continues in the Gold Rush Steakhouse, Copper Café and Silver Bar Cocktail Lounge, and in the on-site bakery, where towering pink cakes and indulgent pastries will tempt you time and again.
The elegant Garden Street Inn sits in San Luis Obispo’s historic downtown, a few minutes’ walk from the city’s famous Spanish mission, where the old monks’ cells now house a museum on the colonial period. While Spanish history echoes through town, French country architecture provides the inspiration for the decor of the hotel, with cozy guest rooms and a wood-paneled library that begs you to curl up on a sofa and get into a good book.
“Quality” is certainly the word at this Spanish-inspired hotel, where tiled fountains decorate the lobby and your suite features extra touches, like a microwave and additional sofa bed, to make you feel at home. An outdoor pool, hot tub and barbecue grill area mean it’s tempting to never leave the grounds, but you must, to explore the hiking trails of High School Hill, the strangely compelling (if kind of gross) art installation of Bubblegum Alley and the lovely colonial architecture of downtown.
Bringing together the rural charm and boho artistry that characterize California’s Central Coast, San Luis Creek Lodge has a breezy hippy charm but doesn’t compromise on luxury. Be sure to check out the works of local painters and sculptors at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, and discover more about the rich history of the city at the San Luis Obispo County Historical Museum, just across the street.
It’s hard to imagine a more classic Californian motel than the Sunbeam, with its vintage sign, traditional rooms and cheerful, sunny paint job. For an even more retro fix, though, be sure to head up the road to the remains of the Motel Inn – opened in 1925 as the first motel in the world – and then take some time to explore the riverside greenery of nearby Cuesta Park.
There’s a youthful, collegiate vibe to the Kinney, which features a large open-plan social area comprising a self-serve bar, pub-style restaurant and board games – perfect for getting to know your fellow guests. The campus atmosphere extends to the rooms, which have a surfy aesthetic and include a Grad Suite and a duplex Dean Suite. Other facilities include a gym, outdoor pool and rental bikes.
Huge, floor-to-ceiling windows invite the outside in at Hotel San Luis Obispo, flooding the colorful, artistically appointed guest rooms with natural light – some also have balconies or terraces overlooking the mountains. The local ethos extends to the several eating and drinking options, which have an emphasis on produce sourced from around SLO – try the grilled lobster tail from Ox & Anchor, the wild Pacific swordfish at Piadina, or grab a coffee and a croissant from bakery Daily Bread. When evening comes, watch the sunset over the valley with a glass of zinfandel at the High Bar.