• Shadi Rahimi

Cutest Answer To The Roadside Motel: Stables Inn, Paso Robles CA

Like everyone else in Northern California right now, the dark orange skies and haze of toxic air has me unsettled to the core. The fire season is getting worse every year and there's few escapes left in the state for fresh air. Last year we ran off to Lake Tahoe because Safia was only one and I was worried about her little lungs. This year we awoke to darkness that lasted all day, just one day before my planned vacation. We decided to hurriedly drive south.

Safia is now two and will only allow a few hours in the car before she's super restless (i.e. literally yelling, "Get me out!" of the carseat). So we split our drive to L.A. in half and stopped in Paso Robles for the night. It's a cute little town most people visit to do wine tastings.

I'd never explored this part of California and found it super charming. I had really interesting conversations with total strangers – masked and all – which doesn't happen much anymore at home. At a restaurant in nearby Templeton, Kitchenette, I had an amazing mushroom polenta (shitake, crimini & oyster mushrooms, red onion, soy sauce, spinach, parmesan, poached egg) and chatted with a guy who drives bulldozers for Cal Fire. He told me he was being sent to Oregon where his job was to bulldoze the ground just before fires reach so that they don't jump.

He was heading toward the fires and we were trying to escape them.

I was gifted a stay at the Stables Inn's new Bunk House in Paso Robles, which can sleep six people comfortably with two sets of twin bunk beds and a CA King bed.

If you know me you know I love aesthetic and ahhhh the Stables Inn is IT! It's Western farmhouse chic – meaning 600-thread count linen on the beds, Adirondack chairs around the fire pit, vintage gas stove and rounded wicker lounge chairs in the tack room. I've always fantasized about having my own land and even a farm – and this is how I would decorate. Super cozy but also lux, with rustic charm and vintage accents. Even the milk for the free coffee was on brand.

Have you ever seen a roadside motel ($155/night) with such vibes and detail? The staff was incredibly sweet as well, the manager Lindsey and I ended up talking about the fires, decor, raising kids, among other topics, and she sent us off with an armful of muffins.

It was hard to escape the reality of what's happening in California, especially as a smoky haze coated the sky in the morning (though at least the sun was visible, unlike the Bay Area). But the one night we spent in cozy cowboy luxury felt like the refresh we needed to actually enjoy our ill-timed vacation. It'll be hard to go back to ordinary motels after this.