Located in the “happiest city in America”, the Apple Farm Inn is a boutique hotel in San Luis Obispo, California. With its friendly and hometown vibe, it may be one of the reasons why the city made such headlines.
How can you not be happy when you open the door to the Victorian-styled parlor, and are greeted with warm smiles, chocolate chip cookies, and then offered a glass of wine as you’re handed your room key?
San Luis Obispo is almost smack dab in the middle between LA and San Francisco on California’s Central Coast, and the Apple Farm Inn is just off historic Highway One. When my sister and I drove in, I was surprised to see that this was not the small boutique hotel I was expecting. It’s a big boutique hotel—more like a mini-resort: 3.5 some acres worth (but no apple orchard).
There are all sorts of different buildings on the flower-filled and landscaped site, plus hundreds of potted blooms and hanging baskets everywhere.
So it wasn’t surprising that after parking, it took us a few moments to figure out where to go for check-in.
When we stepped inside the lobby, it looked more like we were entering a bed and breakfast in a fancy Victorian home: fireplace, sofas, a gorgeous and huge bouquet of garden flowers on a table, a curved staircase a few more steps away (there is an elevator too) and tchotchkes everywhere.
Even the hallways are decorated. But it’s not necessarily a fussy “cutesy” décor. It’s more expensive for one thing; I’d call it a more “elegant country” look–although some might feel a little claustrophobic, especially if your style of lodgings leans toward the minimal, contemporary, modern and sleek. (Or if you’re a 6’5″ linebacker.)
With all the decorative objects on display (many can be bought at their store in another building), my first thought, however, was that you probably wouldn’t want to have your preschoolers on the loose here.
But for a sisterly getaway, we loved it. There are a total of 134 rooms, along with four suites in what is called the Old Millhouse—an authentic millhouse with a working water wheel.
Our room was on the second floor of the “Inn” building. There is also a one-story Trellis Court–a renovated and upscale former motel. The rooms are smaller at the Trellis Court, but decorated in the same fashion as the Inn rooms (every room at the Apple Farm is decorated a bit differently–different colors, and themes) —and they also feature fireplaces in each room.
Besides the standard gas burning fireplace, our spacious room also featured a wonderful cozy nook with a loveseat in a bay window space, beds spread with lovely quilts, flowers in vases, and plants; in some ways it also felt like sleeping at grandma’s house—with the old-fashioned rose wallpaper, and china plates hung by ribbons on the wall.
Added features we liked: Real glasses, a regular little coffeemaker, good coffee, and real cups– plus bottles of complimentary water and a little gift basket with two mini bottles of Martinelli’s apple cider—a nice touch. Turndown service is available; and we requested it. When we returned from the SLO Thursday night farmers market (the inn has a shuttle that runs there as well as to the SLO airport and train station), we not only found our beds ready, but a sweet note and two chocolate mints on our pillows.
The bathroom was spacious—with little details that made it special too: the real flowers in a tiny vase stuck to the mirror, the cute soap holder. Likewise, the magnifying makeup mirror and two robes. Although there weren’t double sinks, there was plenty of counter space plus a combination bath/shower, and lots of soft towels.
Every afternoon, the Apple Farm Inn offers a complimentary wine tasting and reception—featuring local wines and appetizers—on the dining gazebo off the Apple Farm Restaurant. After we sampled a glass of wine, we wandered around the grounds and discovered the swimming pool and hot tub near the Old Millhouse.
We didn’t try the Apple Farm’s restaurant because we decided to go downtown to the city’s famous Thursday night Farmer’s Market.
But in the morning, we did stop in their bakery and ogle the sweet goods–which included apple dumplings, and three kinds of apple pie.
Room prices start at an affordable $99 (rooms in the Trellis Court) and go upwards. They also change with the season and/or if there is something going on at Cal Poly–the college that is located in town. There is also an annoying $8 facility tacked on your bill—which may explain the cookies, free bottles of water in the room, and complimentary Wi-Fi.
Review and photos by Donna Tabbert Long