We couldn’t be through. That transcendent thrill accessible only through tasting life beyond our bubble, no, I refused to believe that was another 2020 casualty. We could start small. We could go slow. Masked and calculated. But we had to move. Try. That was the important thing.
I missed it desperately, maybe even stupidly. The stimulation of new stimuli. So, when my deep dive into who was opening and how they were doing it and would they accommodate this new Pandemic paradoxical life we’re shaping, Hotel Cerro didn’t just give me hope. It showed up with loft style suites, a pool with a view, and an edible garden that sung of epicure and easy living like a daydream I prayed was once for real.
I told you. I really missed it.
San Luis Obispo is one of those Central California collectives of coastline and countryside, quaint and collegiate, and culturally lead by the land that got there first. Boutiques are independent, businesses artist driven, and cafés are cornerstones of their comfortable, casual ease. The pace is unrushed. If you’re not taking a leisurely stroll, you always kind of feel like you are.
Hotel Cerro, in the heart of this calm and completely unpretentious culture, opened its doors, luxurious and laid back, for the first time in January of this year. Three months later the world shut down. Come June 11th, they invited us back, fully ready to revisit how to vacate.
I knew they had done their homework. I knew they had achieved meticulous cleaning protocols, met CDC regulations, triple sheeted their beds (this one they’d done anyway), employees all masked, housekeepers wearing PPE and changing gloves between each room, tables more than amply spaced. I knew things about their air vents I never thought I’d need to know. But how was it going to feel? Frankly I wasn’t sure.
Ok. So. While the modern meets mission design certainly lends itself to an airy, aesthetically spotless welcome, what I didn’t anticipate was the safe in place sensation securing my anxiety around every corner. Masked staff who know the meaning of six feet, hands free sanitation stations, and a sensory swoon up in the Edible Garden.
Up on the second floor, in an open-air enclosed terrace, herbs and organics and botanica bloom. One can sip a summer something in many of the socially scattered nooks within the garden, inhaling those herbal aromatics, snacking on some strawberry spinach right off the vine (it’s a thing!), and my friends, this exercise may cure your quarantine blues once and for all. Or at least until your glass is empty.
At which point visiting the hotel’s Brasserie SLO becomes a spectacular idea. Here a wood burning oven and a wood-fired grill create Mediterranean feels and feasts that emit a sense of place. Flatbreads are excellent and al fresco dining is refreshingly easy. Particularly for those who haven’t partaken in way too long.
And with the Wi-Fi being free and fast, suites being spacious and loft-life, brick bound and beautifully high beamed, I couldn’t stop my mind from wandering into the what if distanced learning could be done say here, what if remote could double time as a retreat? Upsides of being upended begun to dance in my head.
Because this. This is what travel does.
The hotel continued to dazzle us with discerning details. Guests are provided with refillable water bottles, with distilled water stations scattered throughout. Pour over coffee is provided in each room. And all that edible botanica on the terrace? It goes into the organic amenities provided in every room, garnishes the elixirs, and enhances the house made meals. The rooftop pool, with massive cabana beds and mountain views from every angle, makes it hard to want to be anywhere else, and easy to swim at a distance.
Finishing a day at the pool over at SLO Brew Rock (quick little drive) is effortless, outdoors, and brew-pub casual. This 30-barrel brewhouse hosts a taproom restaurant where burgers (all available with Impossible meat – I found this exciting) and salads and fries and fixings are served on enamel and eaten under market umbrellas beneath a So Cal sunset. And given that our state is a bit seamless when it comes to seasons, al fresco dining can be a year-round ritual. Next store, taste some bourbon at Rod & Hammer’s craft distillery, SLO Stills. We left with a souvenir destined to be featured in many happy hours to come.
Breakfast at the hotel restaurant, Brasserie SLO, is so pleasant. Lemon poppy pancakes, breakfast burritos out on the sidewalk, shaded by a canopy of lollypop red umbrellas. It’s the breather that ignites the kind of inspiration that comes only from venturing outside our norm. The one I’ve missed. Our Hotel Cerro experience felt like a gateway into the glorious bellwether of bringing back travel; bringing back all those infinitesimal nuances that amount to creative kickstarts and emotional cobwebs being lifted. Twenty twenty has done a number on so many fronts. If your wanderlust is wailing, know my friends, there is a place to begin again.
This is a great socially distant getaway for families. The loft suites are spacious, and the penthouse pool and cabanas make it easy to maintain distance.
Hotel Cerro 1125 Garden Street, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401, USA.
Tel: +1(805) 548-1000
The hotel is located in Downtown San Luis Obispo in California’s Central Coast region. Take the 101 to Marsh Street. Parking is easy and readily available on-site. Avila Beach is just a short drive from the hotel.
Type of Hotel: Luxury Boutique Hotel
Number of Rooms: 65 guest rooms, includes residential style penthouse lofts and garden suites with complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the hotel.
Price Band: Medium
Insider Tip: Request one of the loft rooms on the second floor. Those high ceilings are great. And if you’re road tripping from Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Los Olivos, and Los Alamos are all great stops along the way.
Reviewer’s Rating: 8/10
Jolie Loeb is a Luxury Lifestyle columnist based in Los Angeles.
Photographs courtesy of Hotel Cerro