Luxury, Artistry and Hospitality at Hotel San Luis Obispo

Contemporary charm finds itself prominently on display at SLO's dreamiest boutique hotel nestled in downtown.
Written by
Emily Sweet

California's central coast is perhaps the state's best-kept secret perfectly nestled between San Francisco and Los Angeles. While its popularity has undeniably been growing as a hotspot for weddings, the quaint charm of a small town still reigns supreme. Downtown San Luis Obispo sits about eight miles from the ocean overlooking mountain vistas and 360-degree views and in the walkable city center, you find Hotel San Luis Obispo. It's neatly crafted into the surrounding architecture, and the hotel's entrance also features their most instagrammable spot: a luscious living wall that is equal parts garden and art.

If there's one mark of a good hotel, it's the service. I was fortunate enough to stay at Hotel SLO, and during my stay the camaraderie between staff and their genuine love for the property was evident. From the valet to the spa technicians to the lovely Gabby working in Piadina who made sure I was well-supplied with caffeine the mornings, there is a unique ambiance of relaxation fostered by such attentive detail-oriented service that immediately set the tone. The rooftop views were nearly enough to make me forget about Los Angeles smog, and definitely enough to make me yearn for another trip ASAP upon my return. A marker of Hotel SLO is an abundance of contemporary art specifically commissioned by local artists as interpretations of the central coast, even the stairwells are artfully decorated and flooded with natural light through dramatic windows. More than anything, it is a curated approach to hotel design that the staff at Hotel SLO said was the vision designed to bring luxury to a budding area with a unique and clean style. Also, did I mention they have sparkling water on tap available on every floor? 

As a hotel the property shines, but the dining options only expand on the hospitality services with delightful interpretations of California coastal cuisine. Piadina is the more casual restaurant at the hotel, serving breakfast as well as dinner with delicious fares (notably, the pizzas are a standout). It offers a relaxed ambience with indoor and outdoor spaces that blends into the hotel's bar and lounge area, which often features live music in the evenings. For another option, the High Bar boasts sprawling views, signature drinks and a selection of food in addition to bocce ball courts and a gorgeous rooftop garden. For a more formal meal, Ox + Anchor is an elevated dining experience led by Chef Ryan Fancher that explores seasonal central coast cuisine. The food is top-tier, offering a selection of steak and seafood that pairs artful presentation with expert culinary skills and a staff that is uniquely eloquent about their menus and craft. All three of the main dining spaces build on the hotel's love for art, featuring unique décor and modern ambiences for intimate and larger sized parties. 

Director of Sales and Marketing Lydia Bates is a charismatic and deeply experienced leader at the hotel with nearly two decades of experience and a history in SLO as a former student all the local college Cal Poly. If this is any homage to her love for the hotel and community, Bates has even created programs at Ox + Anchor partnering with the local Palm Theater that meld with her position on the SLO Film Festival board (truffle-themed menu after a screening of "The Truffle Hunters" anyone?). When it comes to weddings, Hotel SLO shines in the realm of rehearsal dinners and luxurious hospitality experiences. The hotel has event spaces that can accommodate wedding ceremonies and receptions as well and the staff is more than willing to work with couples to create their perfect wedding-day experience. It is an aura of modern luxury, perfect for an overnight stay, spa experience and everything in between. 

Hotel San Luis Obispo sits in a central location walking distance to nearly all of downtown SLO's most lively spots, making it a great choice in general as it keeps transportation easy when walking is an easy option. A highlight of the area is its diversity in attractions, from the charming Madonna Inn less than five minutes away driving which has garnered a cult following to the modern-industrial event space The Penny, there are truly so many venues, restaurants and wineries to explore for wedding-day activities. Though it feels otherworldly, only about twenty-five minutes outside of downtown Oyster Ridge brings a winery backdrop and sprawling tranquility as another option for weddings (with delicious wines growing on every vine). Around downtown SLO you can find local coffee, artisanal shops and tons of adorable stops in the city center. Quench your thirst at Sidecar Cocktail Co. with a cocktail or mocktail, or check out the local mission with centuries of history. 

No wedding weekend is complete without indulgence at the spa, and Hotel SLO's Sol Spa offers an array of services and luxuries to top off the self care you deserve. It is tucked into a corner of the hotel with maximum tranquility, and offers spa guests who are not staying in the hotel access to the pool and jacuzzi area as well as the spa facilities. A spa highlight had to be the perfectly-crafted robes (found in the hotel rooms as well) and the sauna with a dramatic Himalayan salt wall. All of the treatments are personalized and a menu of healing teas to choose from awaits you as a treat to decompress afterwards. My massage experience was thoroughly enjoyable, and the spa technician Jess went above and beyond to cater to my needs and forge a connection. And, of course - the spa also has options for couples massages!

A getaway in San Luis Obispo is ripe with options and not lacking in terms of things to do and see. There are many ways you can plan a central coast getaway, but opting to center yourself in downtown SLO is a great way to keep yourself near a bustling town with a rich locale. Hotel San Luis Obispo is a unique embodiment of small-town charm designed through a contemporary lens that balances a highbrow sophistication with a classic appeal. It is more of an experience than a hotel given the detail-oriented focus on ambience, art and food that permeates this urban oasis. Whether it is the one-stop shop for your wedding weekend, a home-base in the town, an upscale rehearsal dinner or bachelorette weekend, the options for enjoying events and experiences at Hotel SLO are immense with such a versatile property. 

Photos courtesy of Hotel San Luis Obispo. 

City State:

San Luis Obispo, CA


Central Coast