A review of the beautiful, brand-new Hotel Cerro in SLO upon its mid-June reopening
By J. C. Thomas
SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA — In January 2020 – a lifetime ago – Hotel Cerro celebrated its much-anticipated grand opening in downtown San Luis Obispo. It is no exaggeration to say the world was different then, before covid-19 and social distancing requirements upended our lives and halted all travel and leisure activities. Less than three months after Hotel Cerro first welcomed guests to its 65 rooms and suites, the glorious Spa Cerro and its on-site restaurant, Brasserie SLO, it was forced to close.
Leisure travel, including the re-opening (with restrictions) of lodging, restaurants, wineries, beaches and more was permitted in San Luis Obispo County and elsewhere in California from mid-June. Hotel Cerro readied itself for a second new opening date, and my family planned our own inaugural weekend getaway after so many months on lockdown.
We opted for San Luis Obispo as a destination for a couple of reasons. Firstly, we were to meet family members traveling down from the Bay Area, and SLO is almost exactly equal driving distance between the LA and Bay areas. Secondly, SLO is a fantastic destination for a weekend trip, even with many attractions still closed. Its outdoor spaces are beautiful, with parks, beaches and wineries backed by rolling hills, while the downtown area is charming, walkable and lined with cautiously re-opening boutiques and foodie-approved restaurants.
Health and Safety Considerations
Hotel Cerro hosted our two-night stay in a guest room with two queen beds, which was ideal for our two-adult, two-small-children troop. Our relatives stayed in a king room on the same floor. It’s still early days in the “new normal” of travel, and anyone considering a getaway at this time should be aware of the safety protocols required of both hotel properties and guests. Hotel Cerro is going above and beyond the basics. Here’s an overview of the protocols in place:
· Masks are required for all staff and guests throughout the property
· A kit of disposable masks and disinfectant wipes is provided in guest rooms
· Hotel capacity is limited; the spa is still closed at this time
· Staff have been trained in proper health and safety protocols
· Extra cleaning and sanitization practices are in place per state regulations
· Valet parking has become self-parking
· There’s a plexi-glass divider at the check-in desk
· Hand sanitizer stations are provided in public areas
· Ample signage throughout the property states distancing rules
· Guests are asked to use the pool deck one family at a time
Overall, we felt very comfortable with the safety of the property during our stay, and trusted that all staff and other guests were doing their best. It was clear that all the hotel and restaurant staff were ready and available to assist in any way, but understand they must keep their distance while doing so.
As an example, housekeeping service is only performed after check-out, but should you need clean towels, extra coffee etc. it’s just a call away.
With covid concerns relieved as much as is possible, a couple of nights in such a lovely hotel feels like a dream. Remember weekend getaways, plush hotel bedding and fluffy white bathrobes? Sipping hot coffee on a balcony with views over a town not your own? Enjoying a cooked breakfast you did not make?
Hotel Cerro makes a great first impression. Its foundation is two turn-of-the-century buildings that cover almost a full square block of downtown San Luis Obispo, with the inviting lobby, Mission Fig Patio and Brasserie SLO at the street level. Exposed brick walls reveal the property’s heritage, but the design otherwise leans contemporary – an expression of easy Californian elegance inspired by the local area. There’s also a working distillery and wine room adjacent to the lobby. A tall, gleaming copper still appears to be a sculptural centerpiece, but it genuinely produces artisanal spirits that go into the bar’s signature cocktails.
Our guest room was a stunner too, with minimalist art and sleek custom furnishings. The bathroom configuration is uncommonly clever. The toilet is in its own closed space, while the large walk-in shower and double-sink area are open to the rest of the room. Two perpendicular walls of sliding glass let you close off the whole bathroom, leave it partially open or fully open to suit your needs. Our balcony overlooked the bustling Garden Street, while other rooms and suites open over the Edible Garden on the second floor of the hotel.
All rooms and suites feature pure linen, goose-down filled duvets, HD flat-panel televisions and personal care products from Spa Cerro’s own line. Wi-Fi is complimentary, as are sets of reusable water bottles that you can fill with filtered water at the station next to the ice machine. Unusually even for a luxury hotel, the in-room hot beverage tray offers a pour-over coffee setup and long-necked electric kettle, complete with instructions. It includes sustainable, fair-trade coffee from the SLO-based roaster Ascendo, which is delicious. As a tea drinker, I loved having a kettle instead of the more typical coffee maker.
My family enjoyed breakfast at Brasserie SLO, the signature restaurant on the ground floor of the hotel. The space evokes a Californian version of a classic French brasserie, with eclectic art on the brick walls and banquette and booth seating as well as café tables outside. The pastry chef’s gorgeous creations, including signature pies, tempt from a display case. There’s also a pastry selection plate on the breakfast menu plus daily pastry specials, such as the toffee monkey bread we ordered for the table. A single-sheet breakfast menu offers sweet and savory items large and small. For lunch and dinner, the cuisine is Mediterranean-inspired and prepared with locally sourced Central Coast ingredients along with herbs, fruits and vegetables grown in the hotel’s own Edible Garden. Guests can also order small plates, cocktails and local wines to enjoy by the fireplace on the Mission Fig Patio.
Hotel Cerro guests enjoy access to the rooftop pool, which offers expansive views of the rolling hills around SLO. There are shaded cabanas and plenty of lounge chairs on the polished teak decks around the pool, as well as an outdoor bar offering drinks and snacks. Next to the pool deck is a 24-hour fitness center. The property also features al fresco fireplaces and seating areas around the leafy second-floor gardens. Spa Cerro, which is temporarily closed, offers a full range of luxurious beauty and wellness treatments in a stunning, state-of-the-art space.
1125 Garden St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
805-548-1000 (Want to read more about covid-era wine country? Check out Sip, savor and stay safe.)
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