After spending some lovely days in Southern California, it was time to drive back to San Francisco. Unlike on our trip down south, however, we decided we wouldn’t want to drive all the way up in one day. That’s why we searched for a place halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco to stay overnight, and found: San Luis Obispo.

The city in the county with the same name makes great advertising for itself (just look for #SLOCAL on Instagram), for good reasons: It not only serves as the ideal pit stop when driving down (or up) the #1, it also makes the perfect weekend getaway for people from NorCal and SoCal with its various options for outdoors activities (surfing, kayaking, hiking, whale watching, and fishing) and its popular wine regions (SLO Coast Wine and Paso Wine produce wine in California’s coolest climate). All in all, it is the ideal starting point to explore, stroll, and indulge (in) Central California.

The Granada Hotel & Bistro had been on my list of hotels I’d like to visit for a while, so I was happy when it still had a vacancy for one night in December. As the ‘guide Michelin’ describes it just right: “This is a hotel that would be jammed to the rafters every day of the week, were it in the Southland or the Bay Area”, so we were pretty lucky indeed.

The Hotel

Judging from the pictures that you can find on the hotel’s website but also
various booking portals, I knew I was going to like the Granada Hotel & Bistro. Sometimes those pictures can fool you, however, and once you arrive at the property, you might end up somewhat disappointed. With the Granada Hotel & Bistro, it was the opposite. Upon arrival, I instantly felt the flair, spirit, and design surrounding the hotel. The check-in was uncomplicated and welcoming, and I felt well acquainted with the front desk being timbered in old wood and the manager handing out actual keys and making no fuzz in accompanying us to our room herself. The best part of the check-in, however, part was the complimentary glass of rosé from a sister’s property, ‘los alamos’, that I fully embraced after the long drive. Simply put, it was perfect.

A fragment of the past: Exposed brick walls and a timber-and-marble-accented reception area and old-fashioned key-organizer.

The Rooms & The Design

When the front desk manager––who, by the way, was very informative, chatty, and overall just lovely––opened the door to our room (#4 btw, what could indicate the hotel size and feeling better than this number?) on the first floor, I couldn’t help myself but say: ‘Ohhh, I love it. The room was inviting, charming, and designed with an attention to detail I’d rarely seen before in the US. From a European perspective, this might not sound too extraordinary since we are used to all kinds of boutique hotels; however, in the USA, it’s unfortunately not as expected. The flyer that I received from the front desk manager disclosed the property’s significance in the San Luis Obispo history, dating back to the vaudeville era. Although it nowadays follows a classic-luxury boutique concept, after its renovation, it’s looking closer than ever to its Twenties roots, with old-fashioned handle taps, hand-crafted steel windows, and metro-tiled bathrooms.

Our room featured in-room amenities such as skin care products from California-based companies ‘Fable Soap Co’ and ‘The Vanity Project’, and a large LCD flat screen TV. We were also lucky enough to have a balcony door that led to a cute little heated patio (that we shared with the neighbor’s room located on the opposite) filled with sunlight the next morning. Think about eating croissants, drinking French press coffee, and reading the newspaper on a bistro table in the early morning hours, and you visualize pretty well how I felt waking up in the Granada Hotel & Bistro.

Each carefully designed guest room features exposed brick walls, hand-crafted steel windows, Persian rugs, and original hardwood floors. Classically designed marble and tiled bathrooms, nickel-plated fixtures, towels and linen by Fili d’Oro, Goose down duvet and pillows, signature seersucker robes, carefully curated in-room mini bar, and original art.

The Bistro

As the name suggests, the Granada Hotel & Bistro is not only accommodation but also a great place to dine at. In fact, the Granada Bistro has been named in numerous travel guides, particularly in the Michelin guide, which speaks for itself. Designed like the rest of the hotel, with exposed brick walls and the same hand-crafted steel windows plus original hardwood floors, it was both inviting and exciting at the same time. We took the onion soup (which was excellent) and the market fish, and I was blown away by the quality and attention to detail that seemed to be the mantra of the entire hotel.

On the following day, we had lunch on the terrace on the second floor, which was equivalently amazing. If you are ever in San Luis Obispo and for some reason don’t stay in the hotel, you have to visit the bistro at least. Oh, and by the way, the hotel also owns a coffee shop feat. the concept store that serves breakfast, lunch, coffee, wine, and some small nibbles I could barely keep my hands from (soap, candles, basically all the stuff I like).


What had sold me from the very beginning was the hotel bar, “‘Nightcap”, which is an exclusive cocktail lounge at my taste, serving exquisitely crafted cocktails. Unfortunately, it is closed on Mondays, so I can’t visit it. However, the Granada Bistro hires the same barkeepers, so I got to try their craft when I ordered a Negroni. And what can I say? Approved.

All in all, it probably doesn’t come as a surprise that the Granada Hotel & Bistro really impressed me. Never have I experienced such kind of hospitality in such a creative work of art, combined with––if you ask me––a pretty fair price. Not in the US, anyway. In my mind, I have already planned another trip to San Luis Obispo, and I surely know where I will stay – in room #4, but this time, I will bring my friends!


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