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First Motel in the World in San Luis Obispo, California


San Luis Obispo -- The first motel in the world is located in San Luis Obispo, California. In the era of the car travel, vacationers can now drive to their destination and spend the night in something that offers a bit of comfort and convenience. Welcome to the 20th century and its concepts of driving in a car on your vacation. There were no SUV nor RV's yet. Folks either had to find traditional hotels, or camp out.


The plaque on the building reads, "Motel Inn. This is the site of the world's original and first motel. Construction started in 1925 at a cost of $80,000. The word 'motel' was first thought of here by architect Arthur Heinemen. Dedicated October 22, 1988 by Native Sons of Golden West, Frank Compani, Grand President  And San Luis Obispo Parlor No. 290"


In 1925,  Los Angeles architect Arthur Heineman built the first motel in San Luis Obispo, halfway between San Francisco and L.A. He coined the term motel, meaning motor hotel, and named this first property Milestone. For $1.25 a night,  guests were issued a two-room bungalow with a kitchen and a private adjoining garage. All the units faced a central courtyard which housed the swimming pool and included picnic tables for social gatherings.

Journey back to a time when only those with ample income were privileged enough to stay all night in these for fee lodgings. Most travelers either camped or stayed at home. The automobile had become a status symbol and travel to California offered a promise land of blue skies, blue oceans and fruits falling off the vines in advertisements published in national magazines.  The car was the star on this freedom  journey. 


77 years later, the concept of motel and hotel lodgings for pleasure travel is as strong as ever.  This historic hotel sits along a hotel row of 10 or so properties catering to travelers. 




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