When I heard that the independent hospitality group behind two affordable boutique hotels I adore — Sparrows Lodge in Palm Springs and Casa Laguna Hotel & Spa in Laguna Beach — had worked their magic on a small property in San Luis Obispo, it was the perfect excuse for a little road trip north. 

The new-and-improved San Luis Creek Lodge charmed me from the get-go. Set along a stretch of unremarkable chain hotels on Monterey Street, just outside of the downtown core, the lodge stands out for its thoughtful, understated style. L.A.-based designer Nina Freudenberger reimagined what was an ordinary roadside inn into a soulful urban farmhouse with a distinctly coastal vibe.

I stayed in a spacious Premiere King with a fireplace on the second floor of one of the three buildings that house their 25 inviting guest rooms. Full disclosure: This is not a place you stay to take in the views — San Luis Creek Lodge is the perfect base for exploring downtown S.L.O. and the surrounding wine regions. When you’re in your room, it’s all about enjoying the comfort, design, and amenities.

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The mix of natural textures, modern graphic art prints, and sleek light fixtures creates a cozy, contemporary atmosphere. I was literally oohing and ahhing aloud as I got settled in, feeling like I was inhabiting a spread straight out of Dwell magazine. My room featured a statement wall covered with a patterned grass-woven wallpaper that served as the backdrop to the ultra-plush bed outfitted with Italian linens and a handsome rattan headboard. A large rattan armchair was perched in front of the fireplace (very hygge!), which was framed by a brick wall painted a subtle shade of navy. Even better that the fireplace turns on and off with the click of a switch.

The Lodge makes a point to embrace the region’s artisans and introduce guests to some of their beloved global brands. The curated mini bar selection features local makers and treats from the upscale California health food mini-chain Erewhon. The pastry and coffee delivered to your room each morning (in a reusable tote bag you get to keep) are sourced from local favorite HoneyCo, the roasters behind S.L.O.’s Scout Coffee. The bathrooms are stocked with luxurious Aesop bath products, and Linus bikes are available for guest use at no charge.

One of the reasons I chose to stay at the lodge was its proximity to downtown S.L.O.’s restaurants and shops. I walked into town for dinner each evening, an easy 20-minute stroll that felt very safe in that small-town way. My alfresco meals at Granada Hotel & Bistro and the Peruvian gem Mistura were excellent. I also visited a couple of wineries: Biddle Ranch Vineyard in the Edna Valley, an easy 15-minute drive to the lodge, and Niner Wine Estates 30-minutes north in Paso Robles. 

During my time as a guest, I could not stop thinking about what good value San Luis Creek Lodge is. The fact that you can visit midweek and get a room of this quality for under $200 a night is impressive — if it was in another zip code, you can bet it would be double the price and still worth every penny. They are currently running a special for California residents for $20 off the best available rate, so there’s even more incentive to dip your toe into the S.L.O. life for a few days.

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