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“Some good, some bad, all a bit odd” 3 of 5 stars
Review of The Sanitarium B&B

The Sanitarium B&B
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The Sanitarium B&B
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1716 Osos Street, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401   |  
Hotel amenities
Seattle, Washington
Top Contributor
54 reviews 54 reviews
40 hotel reviews
Reviews in 36 cities Reviews in 36 cities
52 helpful votes 52 helpful votes
“Some good, some bad, all a bit odd”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 13, 2011

We stayed here for 1 night on a recent drive down the West Coast. This B&B is a mix of modern (bathroom) with eclectic (shabby chic/medical). It's quite bizarre. To start with the good: The bathroom was tiled in gorgeous white stone tiles and had a huge steam shower. Some of the decor was quite charming (seaglass, local art, etc.). There was a big soaking tub in the room that we didn't use, and our room had a large patio area. Breakfast was tasty and had a local feel, and the innkeeper was flexible with timing (which is rare for B&Bs but nice to have). Good location, just a short walk to cute downtown SLO. Now the bad: There is no feeling of warmth in this place; it all felt very cold and sterile (but not clean sterile, more like hospital sterile, if that makes sense). Some of the eclectic/vintage decor was kind of gross: our lace curtains had huge holes in them (disguised by a large knot), and a chair on the patio was super rusted and covered in cobwebs. The shampoo and body wash dispensers in the shower were empty. And there is a really creepy basinet in the hallway holding extra TP. It just seems like the whole place needs a good cleaning and some minor upgrades. You also cannot check availability or make reservations online; it all is handled over the phone. The whole thing seems well intended, just not well executed.

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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22 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Ojai, California
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 4, 2011

if you are looking for a unique experience than The Sanitarium is a must stay! Greeted by our warm Innkeeper, we at once felt 'at home'. the rooms and the tubs are large and comfortable, and having visited in January, the wood burning stove was a welcoming site as it warmed our cozy room. The vintage touches everywhere make this inn a very charming, homey feel, truly we didn't want to leave. see you all soon... r & e

  • Stayed January 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington, DC
1 review
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed June 8, 2009

The Sanitarium seems to elicit some very different emotional responses. Rather than follow my first inclination and simply declare, "I was very unhappy there!", I will try listing observations objectively beginning with...

The Bright Side: The bed was clean and comfortable, the bath was clean.
Simple, but good breakfast with something for everyone.. bacon, toasted bagels, fresh organic vegetables, a variety of nice cheeses.
Some pretty and imaginative decorative touches throughout.

Cons: I haven't heard other reactions to this, and I know it is supposed to be fun and quirky, but we did not experience the undertone of a medical institution as a pleasing atmosphere. The place actually was at one time a sanitarium, and this feeling lives on both inherently in the actual architectural structure of the building and is also encouraged through some of the current decor. There is a "nurse's station" on the 2nd floor (guest room area), the shampoo and conditioner are pre-dispensed in small plastic pill cups, in our room the main light bulb hung bare from a long cord in the ceiling, etc. Even my husband who is negatively affected by... hmm, just about nothing!.. thought it was a little creepy.

The daytime "open door" policy left us feeling unprotected... when we arrived in the afternoon, the main front door was literally open, not just unlocked. (We were greeted by a note with a phone number.) Even the office area by by the kitchen was open to anyone who came in off the street, and later made us wonder if guests' credit card info was kept well guarded. (This front door is locked at night.)

The inn is located in an urban area near the railroad and among some fraternity houses.. the openness and flow of foot trafic here lent a kind of youth hostel feeling, rather than that of a pricey inn.

Though high on a certain decor, not a cozy, comfortable place to stay. Spartan furnishings.. low on creature comforts.

Noisy. Inside.. without larger rugs, wooden floors throughout creaked even with self-conscious, tip-toed footsteps. Outside.. it is amazing how much noise can be generated at a small intersection.. many breaking trucks (from our front room).

Overpriced for the basics that the inn does deliver. The higher price may be for the theme/decor, which one may or may not like.

While bounding out the front door to leave in the morning, my husband stopped me to introduce another guest couple with whom we shared a friendly breakfast, and for the first time I felt at ease. Perhaps if we had met other guests or had even a small orientation with the owners/ innkeepers (who seemed like nice people) on our day of arrival, I would have felt more at ease through the night. Though, even the warmth of human contact would not have induced me to like this place.

  • Stayed May 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 14, 2009

Is your mind desperate for a break? Does your body whimper at the mere mention of a Moroccan soaking tub? It is possible you have been driven crazy and don't even know it.

Sometimes solutions are stumbled upon. Or fallen into. Or collapsed upon.

I arrived at The Sanitarium, having no idea what expect. I had assumed I would check-in, be briefed, and then head back out for a sultry evening on the salty streets of San Luis Obispo, CA.

Upon entering my room I was stunned by its simple beauty. It was full of art. What to touch first? The cold basin of the deep hammered tub standing unfettered in the corner? The bumpy, crazy colored, lovingly worn patchwork quilt and fluffy pillows? The cool tiles of the bathroom floor. I lingered over every item - all seemingly selected to seduce me.

I succumbed. Silently disrobing, I lay prone, gazing up and out to the swaying tree tops.

After months of constantly moving, making, minding, and musings, my mind and body came to a complete stop. A stillness not acquired in months. When I awoke it was dark and cool. Faint music and laughter floated up the stairs and slipped under my door. I lay quietly for awhile hoping I might fall off to sleep again. But curiosity moved me up and on. I freshened up–determined to still do something in San Luis Obispo other than sleep.

Tiptoeing downstairs I found the innkeeper in the front studio puttering and muttering. He was surrounded by multiple painted canvases of all sizes and styles, several 20 gallon tin buckets filled with hundreds of squeezed tubes of paint, and dozens of jelly jars with brushes standing at attention.

"Here, you can paint too" he offered. Really? Maybe, but first I should go out. I spent the rest of the evening in a used bookstore downtown, huddled in the arts section. I discovered a Sotheby's auction catalog devoted to Latin American art. I felt like it was waiting for me to discover it.

I returned to The Sanitarium eager to completely submit to its care. An hour long private steam shower loosened the last twist in my mental and physical spine, delivering a state of utter submission. I weaved dreams so vivid and clear at the time - all lost to me now.

In the morning, all plans for seeing the sights were silenced. Instead I flirted with the innkeeper amid his artwork, moved by his insights and sensitivities. I settled on the parlor sofa and fingered through several neatly stacked four foot piles of art books clearly lovingly collected over many years.

I would paint. I could paint. Please may I paint?! I am so pleased at the notion of painting.

Two hours of page turning flies by. Still stumped. What to paint? Okay. Focus. What am I feeling? Cleansed. Naked. Beautiful.

Starting with a simple lead pencil I generated an outline nude form. Assured, my fingers reached for a brush and a tube of paint and I began. Colors layering, light and shadows building, a self portrait emerged. Uninterrupted for several hours I sang through my fingers. I remember me.

Nearly finished–it was time for check-out. I felt transformed. Loosened. Lighter.

So simply made happy in 24 hours. What a gift to my solo self. Thank you. Thank me.

Stay here as soon as you can.

The Sanitarium Spa
San Luis Obispo, CA

Seven intimate rooms with private baths. Original art in every room. Sun drenched private decks. Darling breakfast pantry. Garden. Art studio. Grand piano. Walking distance to downtown. Massage room. Visit the website for full details.
But call – the owner Suzy hates email and computers.

This review first appeared on TangoDiva.com

  • Stayed March 2009, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 14, 2008

We stayed there for 2 nights. It was nice and unque but way overpriced. It is in a good location which is a plus but you pay for it. The hosts were great, didn't eat breakfast there but everything was clean and nice.

  • Stayed July 2008
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed June 22, 2008

The breakfast was seriously substandard. I’ve made much better breakfasts, for more people, over a Coleman stove and a cast-iron Dutch oven while camping.

NO, I repeat NO housekeeping during our two night stay. We are a couple. We are in love. We are staying at a B&B. We have needs. We need fresh sheets, and fresh towels. NO SUCH LUCK!

Speaking of housekeeping, no face/hand towels, no extra TP, no Kleenex in the room.

The chairs in our room and on our deck were not suitable for sitting in for more than 15 minutes. The chairs in the”Living Room” were non-existent, the chairs in the outdoor patio were garage-sale left-

Our Shower did not drain. See the housekeeping item above.

It was quite warm when we stayed there. The rooms don’t have air-
conditioning. That’s OK, but the rooms also don’t have screens on the windows. And our room had a stagnant pond below one of the windows. Thus, we had mosquitos in our room, all night.

We’ve got maybe a dozen more complaints of a lesser nature, but here’s one as an example. We arrived back at the inn to find the gate to the parking area closed. The owner had shown up, and brought her dogs with her. In order to keep them inside the property, she had shut the gate to the parking lot. No street parking available immediately around the facility. Nice touch.

We think that this inn was dramatically over priced, even at the weekday price. We can’t imagine how ripped-off we would feel if we had paid the weekend rate.

  • Stayed June 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed March 11, 2008

After reading reviews I thought I had a good idea of what to expect, I am not one for excessive service so, I thought it would be fine. & SLO doesn't have many options so we thought we would give this place a try. Decor-fun and tasteful. We enjoyed the asthetic & fun atmosphere. But the positive feelings end there.
My experience overall was disapointing. The worst offense was what I see as disregard for safety of guests. Random "friends" of the hotel, (gentleman in his 60's who looked like he just climbed off the curb) not only hung around the place(eating, showering) but stayed overnight in extra rooms. This was a getaway trip with two twenty-something girlfiends. And the last thing you want is to feel uncomfortable, when after coming home for the night, some random old guy (a friend of the inn)followed us upstairs, holding a large bottle of lotion, went into a room next to us and retired for the night. Creepy! Also, the inn keeper gave us a master Key, eventhough there were other guests one of the nights.
Poor security/unlocked doors, absent & poor/un-trained service, no cleaning service, food was not as advertised (gormet). If I wanted to crash at a friends house I wouldn't have paid $300 per night to do so. I could go into excruciating detail, just skip it unless you want to pay 4star prices for a hostel experience.
As a side note I did compain to the owner she did apologize & offered another free stay. But I would not go back unless they change mangement, and pubicly address problems. Too bad because with a little effort, this place could be an asset to SLO.

Stayed November 2007
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Sanitarium B&B

Address: 1716 Osos Street, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
Location: United States > California > San Luis Obispo County > San Luis Obispo
Hotel Style:
Ranked #5 of 8 B&Bs / Inns in San Luis Obispo
Number of rooms: 3
Also Known As:
The Sanitarium Hotel San Luis Obispo
The Sanitarium Bed And Breakfast

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