That La Quinta Inn & Suites should be the first new hotel built in 10 years in San Luis Obispo beggars belief. With its position almost halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco on Route 101, the freeway of choice for visitors to California with its access to many coastal resorts including those of the beautiful Monterey Peninsula, SLO, as the locals calls their easy-going, proudly slow-moving home, ought to be an obvious stopover for holidaymakers.
The fact San Luis Obispo often gets overlooked is down partly to its location. Sandwiched between the seaside resorts of Pismo Beach and Morro Bay, SLO faces stiff competition from scenic Route 1, the parallel coast road running up to Monterey via Big Sur which for most tourists is the holy grail. Sure, SLO is a party town, thanks to its large student contingent, and it has a delightful Thursday night street market, but on other nights of the week why stop just 40 minutes south of coastal motel strips where you can sleep within the sound of the crashing Pacific?
In fairness, there has not been the choice of accommodations in San Luis Obispo that 2019 brought with the opening of the college town’s first luxury boutique hotel. While not in the super-luxe category La Quinta, which went up a few months before its fancier friend, offers stylish comfort at a smidgen of the price. And it has a more attractive location, climbing the hill towards the mountains which provide a glorious backdrop to so much of the southern California coast.
To enjoy those mountains, it’s imperative to request a room with a balcony, as much for the wonderful light flooding in through French doors as for the outside space with a table and chairs, perfect for greeting the morning with your complimentary in-room coffee. Rooms themselves are all spacious and stylishly furnished, with a clever device which turns the bathroom light on as you approach with no need for a switch.
The small rooftop pool with spacious deck and loungers provides another opportunity to enjoy the hilltop views in a town whose centre is lively and handsome with its plethora of Victorian architecture but can feel a little congested. La Quinta also boasts a fitness studio, business centre and the 1865 Craft House & Kitchen, a sports bar which unfortunately does not open for breakfast – unfortunate because uniquely in such an attractive hotel, the breakfast room at La Quinta is devoid of ambience and with the exception of fresh fruits, its offerings rather dire.
While a lobby lounge is unlikely to get much use in such a lively town, La Quinta’s is a delightful place to sit and wait for an Uber, if only for the giant black and white photographs of local bighorn cattle. There is more stunning black and white photography of native flora, fauna and the magnificent coastal landscape in the guest rooms, showing that interior designers with taste and flair have been at work in SLO’s best-priced new accommodation – everywhere but the breakfast room, that is!
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La Quinta Inn & Suites,1845 Monterey Street San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
T: 001 805 439 4555
Rooms from £115 double including breakfast