The Pacific Motel, Cayucos: Making California’s Central Coast Cool Again

The Pacific Motel, Cayucos, California

Bungalows at The Pacific Motel, Cayucos, California

Tiny beach towns line California’s Central Coast, south of Big Sur and north of Santa Barbara. Cayucos, population 2,400, is one of those communities that seems preserved in a simpler time, when families slept in roadside motels between swims on the sandy beach and dinners of fish ‘n’ chips. You can still play on the beach and sup in the local seafood shack, but at least one of Cayucos’ lodgings has updated its offerings for a younger, cooler demographic: The Pacific Motel.

While exploring the Central Coast along Highway 1, the iconic California road trip route, my husband Alan and I stayed in this revamped lodging. Here’s the scoop:

Lobby, The Pacific Motel, Cayucos, California

The lobby at the Pacific Motel has coffee, tea, and fun locally-made products.

The Pacific Motel in Cayucos

The current owners took over The Pacific Motel in 2019 when it was a mix of 1920s bungalows and motel rooms that dated to the 1950s and 60s. After a major renovation that took the property down to the studs, the motel reopened in the fall of 2022.

The Pacific Motel is positioned as an adult getaway, targeting couples or friends, rather than families with young children. The 19 units include six bungalows and several variations on king and queen-bedded motel rooms. Only two of these units, with two queen beds, can accommodate families with kids (who must be at least 10).

The Salty Tiger, The Pacific Motel, Cayucos, California

The tiny bar at the Pacific Motel

Facilities and Services

The property expedites guest communications by texting welcome messages and other information.

Coffee and tea are available in the lobby each morning (there are no in-room coffee making facilities). The lobby also functions as a small boutique selling T-shirts, artworks, and other souvenirs, the majority of which come from the Central Coast region.

The Sandbar, The Pacific Motel, Cayucos, California

The Sandbar, an outdoor cocktail lounge

In a converted guest room, The Salty Tiger is a tiny bar and snack shop. Outdoors between two of the bungalows, The Sandbar — in a funky truck turned bar counter — serves local beer and wine. There’s a ping pong table outside as well, and guests can borrow both cruiser bikes and beach towels.

Guest room, The Pacific Motel, Cayucos, California

A guest room at The Pacific Motel

Guest Rooms and Amenities

The bright and airy guest rooms pair white bedding with beachy prints. Wi-fi is included and works well. Electrical outlets and reading lamps are conveniently set by the beds. Rooms have mini fridges and an in-room snack tray, stocked with mostly local goodies available to purchase.

The rooms have no closets or even much storage for bags — just a luggage rack and either wall hooks or a small bar with a few hangers. Fortunately, in this casual town, you don’t need to pack much more than a bathing suit, sweats, and a jacket for the cool evenings.

Bathrooms have been updated, and bathrobes are provided.

Bungalow interior, The Pacific Motel, Cayucos, California

The Pacific Motel bungalows have gas fireplaces.

The bungalows are essentially large guest rooms with a sitting area around a gas fireplace and a king bed. The bungalows also have their own patios.

There are no room keys to worry about; you enter your room or bungalow using a numeric keypad. The keypads are handy, though a bit finicky to operate.

What’s Nearby

The area’s best breakfasts are served at Hidden Kitchen, about a 10-minute walk from The Pacific Motel. Their blue corn waffles, available in several different savory and sweet alternatives, are definitely worth waking up for. Nearby, Luna Coffee Bar has good caffeine and scones.

Besides the beach, you can head north to tour the grand Hearst Castle in San Simeon, or to the town of Cambria, where you can walk on the beautiful Fiscalini Ranch Preserve. Also in Cambria, book dinner at the inventive Brydge Restaurant or take a seat in the garden at long-standing Robin’s Restaurant. Save room for a slice of olallieberry pie at Linn’s.


Late May to October is peak season along California’s Central Coast, when double room rates at The Pacific Motel start at $199/night and bungalows begin at $399/night. Check or another hotel booking site to compare rates and look for a better deal.

Hotel feature by Vancouver-based travel, food, and feature writer Carolyn B. Heller. Photos © Carolyn B. Heller. Highway 1 Road Trip, in partnership with The Pacific Motel, hosted my stay for review purposes.

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