Welcome to The Carlton Hotel

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In the heart of California’s Central Coast, not far from San Luis Obispo and the vineyards of Paso Robles and Edna Valley, is one of the most unique and authentic hotels, a place where vintage charm, exceptionally personalized service and a gentle sense of tranquility merge to create an unforgettable experience.

The Carlton Hotel is a 52-room boutique gem in Atascadero that exemplifies classic style and luxury through an ornately appointed design, sophisticated accommodations and a rich, historic ambiance recalling an era when travel meant something special.

Before we became known as a lovely Central Coast Wine Country Hotel, The Historic Carlton Hotel began as the Atascadero Development Syndicate in 1928.  This California luxury hotel used to be called "The Annex" and was a top-of-the-line companion to the Atascadero Inn. It was one of the most luxurious places to stay in California. Retailers such as J.C. Penney, Sprouse-Reitz and Safeway opened their doors on the main floor of the building in October 1929. The formal opening of The Annex was in November of that same year.

A few years later, Kenneth Filmore took over ownership of The Annex and renamed it the "Hotel Halfway and Coffee Shop." It changed hands again in 1931, when Nola Tunks and her brother George Clark bought the building. For the third time, with new owners came a new name for the hotel. Tunks announced she planned to call it, "...the Carlton , a more distinctive name well known in the east and associated always with hotels of high standing." Tunks added a neon sign to the rooftop (it's still there today) and soon the Radio and TV personalities including Jack Benny, Bette Davis, Fred MacMurray, Dick Powell and Ralph Bellamy often stayed at the Carlton.

New owners over the next 20 years would bring more change to the Carlton. In August of 1936, it was sold to Lewis Sutton and F. Porter Brown. The two businessmen cut an entrance into the corner of the building and created a champagne glass made of tiles to welcome visitors at the door. Phillip Zarabozo became the next owner and made the most significant change to the Carlton. In 1952, he added the clock tower, which still stands today as a local city landmark.Over the years, several more families owned the Carlton. In its final years, the grand, luxurious California hotel became a senior housing complex. It sat vacant, and in limbo, for many years.

In 1999, the current owners purchased the hotel with plans to renovate and restore it to its former beauty. After years of careful renovation and thoughtful sourcing, the hotel reopened its guestrooms in January 2005.  Since then, countless families on vacation, couples out for a getaway and locals wanting a night away from home have all called the Carlton their home away from home.  We look forward to seeing familiar faces in the future and to meeting new friends who come to stay. 

A stay at The Carlton Hotel opens the door to relaxing days browsing the shops and galleries of downtown Atascadero, wine tasting adventures, championship golf, and, best of all, a chance to trade modern bustle and distractions for the quieter rhythms of days gone by.

So, when you are looking for a Central Coast Wine Country Hotel, make sure to explore The Carlton Hotel in Atascadero, CA!  

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Downtown San Luis Obispo

Distance: 14 miles From The Hotel
Downtown Farmer's Market

Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and Central Coast Wine Country, “The Happiest Place in the World” embodies the boundless beauty, tranquility and recreation of the California Coast. The charming downtown area is lined with locally owned shops, restaurants and galleries. Be sure to stroll around the historic Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, the fifth of the 21 California missions built in 1772 and considered to be the most beautiful of them all.

Mission San Miguel

Distance: 17.9 miles From The Hotel
MIssion San Miguel

Explore the rich history of this mission, which was founded in 1797. Over two centuries later, this National Historic Landmark remains one of California’s most important historical treasures, appearing today exactly as it did when originally built. The inside of the church has never been repainted and the wall frescoes are the originals created by Salinan artists.

*Photograph by David J. McLaughlin, courtesy California Missions Resource Center.

Paso Robles Wine Country

Distance: 5 miles From The Hotel
Justin winery

There are over 200 wineries and tasting rooms in San Luis Obispo County and The Carlton Hotel is located in the heart of it all. We are centrally located halfway between the Edna Valley AVA in San Luis Obispo and the Paso Robles Wine Country. Our staff can assist you in planning your wine tasting adventure or make arrangements for limousine or shuttle wine tasting tours.

Hearst Castle

Distance: 31.5 From The Hotel
Hearst Castle

Publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst's famous estate was completed in 1947 and is one of the most stunning private residences in the world. Five different guided tours are available, in addition to the National Geographic Theater at the Hearst Castle Visitor Center showing "Hearst Castle, Building the Dream," the companion film to castle tours. The Carlton Hotel staff will be pleased to make your Hearst Castle tour reservations.

Pismo Beach

Distance: 23 Miles From The Hotel
Pismo Beach

This classic beach town is just a short drive from the hotel, right off of the Pacific Coast and 101 highways.  Enjoy fun in the sun activities such as kayaaking, surfing, boogie boarding and horseback riding.  Or, savor some salt water taffy and soft serve ice cream cones while you stroll down the 1200 foot pier.  A fun filled day is just a short drive away!

Carrizo Plain National Monument

Distance: 40 Scenic Miles From The Hotel
Carrizo Plains

Spectacular panoramic landscapes, a diversity of wildlife comparable to Africa’s Serengeti, the highest concentration of threatened and endangered wildlife in California—these are the irreplaceable assets of the Carrizo Plain National Monument.

The Carrizo Plain stretches for 250,000 acres along the base of the Temblor Mountains, 60 miles east of San Luis Obispo. Its vast grasslands, as well as woodland habitats and vernal pools, sustain 15 of California’s threatened and endangered plants and animals.

Here may rest the future of such species as the California jewelflower, San Joaquin kit fox, mountain plover, blunt-nosed leopard lizard, pronghorn antelope and giant kangaroo rat.

The Carrizo Plain is also the largest protected habitat along the Pacific Flyway, making it a birder's paradise in winter. In spring, Carrizo’s rolling grasslands thrill wildflower enthusiasts with a breathtaking assortment of blooms.

Self Guided Tour:

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Getting There:

Take US Highway 101 to Santa Margarita (located halfway between Atascadero and San Luis Obispo).  From Santa Margarita take State Highway 58 east about 40 miles, turn right (south) on Soda Lake Road toward California Valley and the Carrizo Plain National Monument.  In 7.6 miles you will arrive at the boundary of the Carrizo Plain National Monument.  As you travel south on Soda Lake Road be sure to pull off at overlook hill and the Soda Lake boardwalk.  Seven miles from the boundary, a dirt road heads west (right) 1/2 mile to the Goodwin Education Center.


Atascadero Charles Paddock Zoo

Distance: 1.3 miles From The Hotel
Exterior view of The Carlton Hotel in Atascadero

The only Central Coast zoo accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, this five-acre zoo is home to over 200 animals, including red pandas, Malayan tigers, lemurs and meerkats, as well as a range of other exotic mammals, birds, reptiles and insects. A gift shop and refreshments are also available. 

Morro Bay

Distance: 13 miles From The Hotel
Exterior view of The Carlton Hotel in Atascadero

Located directly on scenic coastal Highway 1, this charming, beautiful seaside town is perfect for kayaking, biking, fishing, beachcombing, antiquing and savoring the just-off-the-boat catches of local fishermen and oystermen.   

The Carlton Hotel

Exterior view of The Carlton Hotel in Atascadero

6005 El Camino Real,
CA 93422

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