My time at Hotel Cerro last month was too brief — just a quick dinner and sleepover on a road-trip to San Francisco — so I didn’t have much opportunity to relax and explore. But this much was obvious: The Cerro has breathed new life into the town’s historic core. While most of the 65-room hotel was newly constructed, the block-wide project preserved and incorporated two vintage storefronts on Garden Street that date to the 1920s, one of which now frames the brasserie and the other, the lobby. It’s a sexy marriage of old and new. There’s a pool on the roof, a 4,000 square-foot spa and a sprawling chef’s garden on the second-floor courtyard.
Here’s a quick look around:
The restaurant: Brasserie SLO serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s a French brasserie that draws as much inspiration from France as it does from nearby farms and wineries. Chef Brooks makes an excellent croque madame for breakfast and serves wonderful duck confit and beef bourguignon at dinner. But he’s also got a classic Santa Maria-style wood-fired grill to play with. A wood-burning oven, too. He makes use of the latter for roasting marrow bones, which he finishes with California-grown beech mushrooms, as well as an herb-roasted chicken that he serves over a bed of creamed local spinach.
The hotel has its own distillery adjacent to the brasserie, but I get the feeling they haven’t ramped up the bootlegging activity just yet. Meanwhile on the backside of the hotel (on Broad Street) there’s going to be a small storefront pie shop called Sweet Life of Pie, which hasn’t opened yet because of the pandemic, but the pies are available now in the brasserie.
The room: We checked into a garden suite with a private terrace adjacent to the chef’s garden. The suite featured two gas fireplaces: one indoors, the other on the terrace. The bed was extremely comfortable, wrapped with a goose-down duvet and great pillows. Bathrobes, slippers, complimentary water bottles, fantastic toiletries, ample USB ports, a mini bar stocked with local wines… I can’t think of anything missing.
The public spaces: The lobby faces Garden Street and is a charming spot to gather, surrounded by great art. And it’s hard not to fall in love with the hotel’s art collection throughout the property. The rooftop pool offers sweeping views of the town and the surrounding mountains, including Cerro San Luis Obispo and Bishops Peak, two of the peaks that make up the Nine Sisters. Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to check out the gym or spa because we were only here for a lightning-fast pitstop. But next time for sure.
Bottom line: Hotel Cerro officially makes downtown San Luis Obispo an overnight destination. This hotel is very comfortable, and the brasserie is absolutely fantastic.
Rates currently start around $255, but prices are already skyrocketed for the spring; 1125 Garden Street (valet is on Marsh Street), San Luis Obispo, California, 805-548-1000, hotelcerro.com