There’s a California college town midway between Santa Barbara and Big Sur that was described to me as, “equal in charm to Montecito, but as laid-back as Santa Cruz.” San Luis Obispo, or SLO, to Golden Staters, is really just a few square blocks, but they are full of Spanish colonial architecture, funky coffee shops and a general, honeysuckle-scented air of calm. As befits SLO, the boutique Granada Hotel (pictured above), in the center of town, is housed in a 1920’s brick building that formerly acted as a brothel next door to a vaudeville theater. (Oh, the stories…) The interior is outfitted with wrought-iron fixtures, heavy, sumptuous upholstery and dark, candelabra-lit hallways. The seventeen guest rooms feature hardwood floors, vintage furniture, exposed brick walls and cozy bedding. Bathrooms are outfitted in classic white subway tiles and offer C.O. Bigelow amenities including Marvis toothpaste, maintaining the room’s funky retro feel.
The attached restaurant, Granada Bistro, pre-dates the hotel and is a hot spot for lunch and dinner. Upscale American cuisine is the specialty, and the wine list includes many local varietals from nearby Paso Robles, California’s third-largest wine-producing region. Hotel guests are invited to enjoy their drinks on the rooftop lounge before or after dinner.
While breakfast is not yet available at the hotel, the nearby Big Sky Café promises some of the best huevos rancheros of your life. Other favorite shops in town include Batch, where ice cream sandwiches are made to order, and Rocket Fizz, which specializes in old fashioned candy and soda. This is, after all, a college town.