Where to Stay in San Luis Obispo: Best Areas & Hotels, 2019
Written by Carri Wilbanks
When it comes to visiting the quaint town of San Luis Obispo, halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, most tourists, whether on a romantic getaway or a family vacation, will want to stay in the area around the historic downtown. It is very walkable and filled with shops, restaurants, and museums. Here, you'll find sightseeing attractions like Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, the famous Bubblegum Alley, the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, the famed Fremont Theater, and numerous unique boutiques and galleries.
You'll also discover a range of hotels here for all budgets and styles of traveler. In the luxury market, check out the circa 1922 Granada Hotel and Bistro or the SLO Brew Lofts, which are both within walking distance of everything, or the Quality Suites San Luis Obispo if you want something slightly less expensive.
The town also caters to families with numerous kid-focused hotels, including The Kinney San Luis Obispo. Couples will love the romantic vibes found staying just outside of town on the 100-acre estate, where Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort and Spa also hosts natural hot springs for relaxing.
Where to Stay for Luxury
SLO Brew Lofts is a fun luxury choice right on the atmospheric main street, running parallel to San Luis Obispo Creek and within walking distance of attractions like the Fremont Theater. The accommodations are in modern urban studios and two-bedroom loft apartments, which come with industrial-chic stylings like modern art on exposed brick walls and exposed piping, as well as comfy beds with crisp white duvets and colorful pillows. All feature kitchens and living rooms, and one unit even comes with a furnished rooftop patio. Away from the rooms, you'll find a restaurant, music venue, and patio facing the creek.
Another wonderful luxury pick is the Granada Hotel and Bistro in the historic downtown area. The hotel dates back to 1922 and is within walking distance of tourist attractions like Mission San Luis Obispo and Bubblegum Alley. It features stylish rooms with exposed brick walls, Persian rugs, marble bathrooms, and original artwork. The best rooms have fireplaces, sitting areas, and floor-to-ceiling windows with city views. On-site amenities include a restaurant, spa, free parking, and loaner bikes for guests to use. There are also frequent music and artists' workshops held on-site.
If you're looking for something slightly different in the luxury market, check out Madonna Inn, which is located less than a five-minute drive from the historic downtown and offers accommodations in a turreted pink resort designed with a fairy-tale castle vibe. The rooms and suites come with different themes, and each is unique, but all feature comfy pillow-top mattresses and luxe bedding, as well as custom furnishings. There are a number of on-site amenities, including multiple dining options, a heated infinity swimming pool, two hot tubs, and a 45-foot-tall waterfall. There is also a spa, fitness center, tennis courts, and free parking.
Where to Stay: Mid-Range
San Luis Creek Lodge is a popular and convenient mid-range choice, just a few minutes' drive from downtown. This bed-and-breakfast occupies three buildings and features a mix of architectural styles and decor including Tudor and Craftsman. The rooms are spacious and comfortable with nine-foot-high ceilings, imported tiles, and tapestries. Some also come with Jacuzzi tubs and fireplaces. A hot breakfast is included in the rate and there is also free parking and Wi-Fi.
Courtyard San Luis Obispo is another good-value option just outside downtown. It features modern rooms, which are spacious and comfortable and come with flat-screen TVs, microwaves, mini-fridges, and desks. The suites are great for families, with separate living areas and Jacuzzi tubs. On-site amenities include a restaurant serving American fare, a heated outdoor swimming pool, workout room, and free parking.
Also check out the Quality Suites San Luis Obispo in a California Mission-style building downtown, which is within walking distance of many attractions, including Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. The mid-range property comes with contemporary suites, which are all large and clean and are a great choice for families. They feature mini-fridges, microwaves, flat-screen TVs, and enough space to spread out. Rates include a complimentary hot breakfast buffet and a heated outdoor swimming pool and hot tub. There is an on-site gym and gift shop, and parking is free.
Where to Stay on a Budget
Avenue Inn Downtown San Luis Obispo is a good budget choice, located near Highway 1 and within walking distance of the shops, galleries, and restaurants of the downtown business district and Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. The motel-style property offers basic but clean and comfortable rooms with amenities like free Wi-Fi; mini-fridges; microwaves; and, in some cases, balconies. A free continental breakfast is served to guests, and there is plenty of on-site parking.
Budget travelers will also want to take a look at the Rose Garden Inn, which is located just a few miles outside downtown and offers good value for money. It is a motel-style property with slightly dated but clean and comfortable rooms. They also feature balconies, free Wi-Fi, and mini-fridges and microwaves. The amenities are quite good for a budget hotel, with landscaped grounds and a heated pool and hot tub with a cascading waterfall. Parking is free, and a coin-operated laundry is available.
Where to Stay for Families
Families will like The Kinney San Luis Obispo as it offers a range of suites with separate living spaces, sleeper sofas, and microwaves, and kids stay free with an adult. This modern hotel also features a range of rooms with flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, and high-pressure showerheads in the bathrooms. Away from the rooms, expect amenities like a complimentary breakfast bar, outdoor swimming pool, hot tub, restaurant, workout room, and free parking.
Best Western Plus Royal Oak Hotel is another popular pick with families. It offers spacious and relaxed rooms, which are clean, comfortable, and modern in their decor. They come with features like mini-fridges, microwaves, flat-screen TVs, and balconies. Wi-Fi is free, and so is breakfast and parking. Amenities include an outdoor swimming pool, hot tub, and workout room. The staff here is very friendly and happy to assist with local plans.
Where to Stay for Couples
Apple Farm Inn is a wonderful choice for couples. It is a country-style hotel, which sits by San Luis Obispo Creek and is within walking distance of downtown sightseeing attractions. The rooms are stylish with a romantic vibe thanks to four-poster beds, fireplaces, and Jacuzzi tubs with creek views in some. An in-room breakfast can also be arranged for a fee. On-site amenities include a farm-to-table restaurant, outdoor swimming pool, hot tub, and garden. Parking and Wi-Fi are free, but a resort fee is charged daily.
Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort and Spa is a high-end romantic resort if you don't mind staying outside of town in a lovely country location. It is set on a 100-acre estate off Highway 101 and features rooms with their own hot tubs and balconies, as well as stylish furnishings and comfortable beds draped in high-end linens. There are also suites with separate living spaces and four-poster beds. Amenities include a spa, restaurant, and naturally heated mineral hot tubs, plus a lagoon. Yoga and pilates are also offered.