Nestled in San Luis Obispo’s downtown, Hotel SLO is a modern urban resort that embodies the authentic culture of the Central California coast while serving as the quintessential community destination.

Once known as “the happiest place in America”, San Luis Obispo is a popular tourist destination located in the Santa Lucia Mountain foothills, known for its lively city centre, historic architecture, and vast vineyards. Nestled in its quaint downtown, Hotel San Luis Obispo, or Hotel SLO is only steps away from premier restaurants and shopping, an independent movie theater, and the historic Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa.

Gensler was engaged to create a ground-up hotel that allows visitors to experience the authentic culture of the California coast. Hotel SLO features an inviting 78-room boutique hotel with flexible gathering spaces that can accommodate 350 guests, amenities include a full-service spa, courtyard, pool, gym, and two on-site restaurants. The hotel’s sizable rooftop patio and adjacent lounge, High Bar, offer breath-taking views of the nearby mountains and San Luis Obispo’s bustling city. Offers a full bocce court, handcrafted cocktails, wine, craft beer, and light fare, High Bar also has a chef’s garden with lush plantings, the produce from which is used in the hotel’s two main restaurants, the informal Piadina and the fine-dining steakhouse Ox + Anchor.

Inspired by simple agricultural buildings from the area and the wineries to the north and east, unique materials are used throughout including corrugated and plate Corten steel, terra cotta and brick screens, light and dark plaster, brick pavers, and cobblestone motor court. Ten local artists were commissioned for custom blackened steel pieces used as architectural elements.

Hotel SLO is a feast for the artistic senses, with its instagrammable living wall at the entrance, the “wood knots” found over each bed, and the limited-edition prints of SLO architectural landmarks that are found in each room and hallway. Visitors entering the hotel are welcomed by a sizable, specially created, three-dimensional cut paper sculpture. The elaborate artwork incorporates many discoveries from the hotel’s own site digs to illustrate a multi-layered history of San Luis Obispo.

The hotel offers a large event space that serves as a gathering point in downtown, while elevated food and beverage experiences attract more intimate groups. A public courtyard accented with outdoor sofas, teak chaise lounges, and firepits are just one of the many outdoor spaces that are meant to be year-round sanctuaries. The hotel’s garden courtyard is divided by strolling paths and San Luis Obispo’s famous paseos, which connect it to Monterey Street’s dining and shopping districts. The design, which draws inspiration from the surrounding beautiful beaches, rolling vineyards, vast golden ranch lands, and volcanic mountains, is intended to be an exciting and distinctive social meeting space for its visitors and the local community. Hotel SLO is more than a downtown resort – it’s a cultural hub distinctive to the flavor of the region, making everyone who visits feel like a local.

Travelers who care about the environment will enjoy the hotel’s dedication to sustainability, which includes providing reusable water bottles to each guest, refill stations all across the property, and electric vehicle charging stations. The urban hotel is LEED Silver certified with features like a card key lighting control system, building control system, innovative envelope design, a cool roof, and a green education program for guests.

Built near the origins of the town, Hotel SLO’s design highlights San Luis Obispo’s history with its emerging fine art and charmingly bohemian music scene. An escape to Hotel SLO provides the opportunity to experience a SLO-er pace of life, with its popularity with visitors and locals, ultimately achieving
its goal of being a community destination.

Project: Hotel San Luis Obispo
Location: California, USA
Design Studio: Gensler
Photo Credits: Gensler / Ryan Gobuty

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