Famous for the picturesque array of Mediterranean-style white stucco and red-tiled buildings in its Historic Downtown, Santa Barbara is set on the central Californian Coast – and that also means beaches. With all these attractions, plus more history at the Santa Barbara Mission and a great wine-scene, this city is a must-visit.
It’s a popular place and a hotspot for domestic and international visitors. Naturally, it comes with a wide selection of accommodation to match. It can be hard to find what’s right for you – but don’t worry; whether you’re road-tripping or flying in, these are the very best hotels in Santa Barbara.
1. Harbor View Inn
Harbor View Inn is set in scenic, manicured grounds dotted with palm trees. It offers fresh, fashionable rooms decorated with a slight retro edge and is one of Santa Barbara’s coolest upscale hotels.
The hotel compound is centred around an outdoor pool area. There’s also a full-service spa onsite. When it comes to dining, you’ll have the option of dinner at the Harbor View Inn restaurant or lunching at the poolside bar.
Location: This hotel is just a five-minute walk from Stearn’s Wharf and is set in the heart of the Funk Zone. It’s also close to the sands of West Beach and is within 100 yards of East Beach.
2. Hotel Californian
Almost like the famous song itself, Hotel Californian is located mere steps from the beach and is a design delight. The guest rooms are beautifully monochrome and come with decadent marble bathrooms.
The hotel offers a decidedly chic outdoor swimming pool, featuring large sunbeds and views of the sea. There are also two options for dining, both of which are suitably stylish.
Location: Another of San Barbara’s top hotels in the Funk Zone, this place is just a stone’s throw from the beach and Stearn’s Wharf. Kunin Wines and Santa Barbara Winery are both in easy striking distance of the hotel.
3. The Ritz-Carlton Bacara
The Ritz-Carlton Bacara is a sprawling, village-like property complete with winding paths and abundant natural areas to relax in. The resort boasts ocean views and a chic, scenic outdoor pool area, tennis courts, and one of the largest spas in the West Coast.
The rooms are well-appointed, decorated with a rustic-chic style; they come with four-poster beds, patterned carpets, and outdoor seating areas. There is also a selection of drinking and dining options – from steak to evening cocktails.
Location: This hotel is adjacent to the Sandpiper Golf Course. While the city centre is 13 miles from the resort, beaches and nature galore (including hiking trails) are right on the doorstep. The Santa Barbara Mission is less than a 20-minute drive away.
4. Hyatt Place Santa Barbara
Guest rooms at this hotel are clean and smart, decorated in soft tones. Calming greys and crisp white bathrooms make for an all-around upscale and polished affair. Throughout, the hotel is modern and stylishly designed.
There’s a restaurant perfect for a lavish dinner and evening cocktails, as well as a shared outdoor sun terrace complete with fire pit. There is also a hot tub for guests to unwind in. This 4-star hotel boasts a fitness centre for those all-important work-outs.
Location: Conveniently located close to the highway (good for road-trippers), this top hotel is near to coffee shops, bars, and restaurants. It is within three miles of Santa Barbara Museum of Art and the Granada Theatre. The Amtrak Station of Santa Barbara is just over four miles away.
5. Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara
With their tropical cabana feel, the guest rooms at this branch of the Four Seasons Resort are decked out with large French doors, traditional seating areas, and antique-style furnishings for a comfortable, classic stay in high-end luxury.
Situated in 20 acres of lush gardens along the coast, this Spanish Colonial-style building houses a full spa, an outdoor swimming pool, and even direct access to Butterfly Beach. Staying here also means the choice of dining at one of three onsite restaurants.
Location: Set just a 15-minute drive from the airport, the Coral Casino Beach & Cabana Club is right next door. Sights such as Santa Barbara Museum of Art are just over three miles from the hotel.
6. Santa Barbara Inn
Another Spanish-style villa, the Santa Barbara Inn is a wonderful place to stay in this Californian city. Rooms have a mix of traditional style furnishings and mid-century modern chic; they feature private balconies with views out across the ocean.
There’s the chance to cool off in the outdoor pool and enjoy a relaxing drink at the pool bar. You can also enjoy meals at the onsite restaurant; this boasts an outdoor terrace which makes for a pleasant spot for evening dining.
Location: Right next to East Beach – with its golden sands and water sports – cafes, bars and shops are just steps from the front door of this hotel.
7. Brisas del Mar Inn at the Beach
Rooms at this top Santa Barbara hotel are spacious and comfortable, boasting spacious bathrooms, large beds, and plenty of natural light for a bright, airy stay. Some rooms even have kitchens and seating areas.
The hotel has a rustic aesthetic throughout, with open fireplaces, wood-beamed ceilings and terracotta tiled floors – a theme that continues to its outdoor swimming pool. As a bonus, the hotel offers free bike rentals to guests and allows the use of an onsite gym.
Location: Just two blocks from West Beach – and very close to East Beach – this hotel has a wide selection of places to eat and drink nearby. It’s also got convenient access to and from Highway 101.
8. Mason Beach Inn
A quaint and reasonably priced hotel, Mason Beach provides guests with clean and comfortable rooms. These boast warm decor, simple furnishings, and crisp white linens for a cosy, unfussy stay.
Tropical gardens surround the outdoor swimming pool area of this Mediterranean-style hotel. There’s also a hot tub to unwind in after a day of exploring. As a handy bonus, the hotel offers free parking to guests.
Location: Situated less than a five-minute stroll from West Beach, and close to Santa Barbara Harbor, the Historic Downtown is just half a mile from Mason Beach Inn. Santa Barbara Mission is a five-minute drive away.
9. Hotel Milo Santa Barbara
Like something out of the pages of Vogue, this hotel is a charming and stylishly decked out place to stay. Rooms are tastefully decked out in nautical colours and boast high-end furnishings for a design-led stay; family rooms conveniently come with bunk beds.
Throughout the hotel, there are some extra special touches – from the bright gym and fitness centre to its two heated outdoor pools. There’s a bistro onsite, complete with a patio dining area for sunny lunches and evening meals.
Location: Set on the oceanfront in Downtown Santa Barbara, Stearn’s Wharf and Santa Barbara Winery are both an easy walk from the hotel, as are Santa Barbara Wine Collective and Kunin Wines. West Beach is just 40 yards from here, too.
10. Hideaway Santa Barbara
With beach house aesthetics, Hideaway Santa Barbara is a boutique offering that has made its mark among the city’s selection of big-name hotels. If you’re looking to stay somewhere with a little bit of character and atmosphere, this is a good option.
There is a lot of attention to detail going on here, with the utmost care paid to the design of the rooms, which are beautifully well-kept and spotlessly clean. The hotel serves up a delicious breakfast each morning; it’s complimentary, and there are vegetarian options. Free parking adds extra convenience.
Location: Set in the West Beach District 600 yards from the beach itself, this hotel boasts easy access to Highway 101 but is in a quiet neighbourhood.
11. Blue Sands Inn
Blue Sands Inn is a great place to stay in Santa Barbara. A motel it may be, but the rooms are charming and well-appointed, while the staff are friendly and welcoming. It features stylish tiled staircases, clean, modern furnishings, and top comfort and cleanliness.
The outdoor pool and lounge area are well maintained, and the environment is calm and quiet. Efforts have been made to beautify the motel, and they’ve certainly succeeded; it’s now a boutique property offering a concierge service.
Location: Situated just one mile from West Beach, there is an enormous selection of places to eat and drink just on the doorstep – cafes, restaurants, supermarkets, bars, you name it. The Funk Zone is about half a mile from here, too.
12. Montecito Inn
A beautiful boutique hotel, Montecito Inn has a vintage feel, making it a quirky but lovely place to stay. The guest rooms come with a colour palette of greys and silky blacks, with beautifully maintained gardens to stroll in.
The chic outdoor pool offers a slice of seclusion from the outside world. But the coolest thing about this hotel is that it was originally built in 1929 by none other than Charlie Chaplin.
Location: This top Santa Barbara hotel has a top location to match, just a ten-minute walk from the beach. From here, Coral Casino Beach & Cabana Club are very close by, as are many other popular restaurants and bars.
13. Spanish Garden Inn
Spanish Garden Inn is a beautiful hotel. Rooms play on its Mediterranean style, accented with wood-beamed ceilings, four-poster beds, and tiled floors; some rooms even come with fireplaces and outdoor seating areas.
A host of tropical greenery surrounds the hotel’s heated outdoor pool. There’s also an interior terrace complete with a fountain in the centre. Throughout, there are charming Spanish Colonial touches, making for a decedent place to rest your head.
Location: This hotel is located in the middle of Downtown Santa Barbara, very close to the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Granada Theatre, and Santa Barbara Winery. There are also many restaurants and cafes to discover just steps from the property.
14. Simpson House Inn
Dating back to 1874, manicured gardens surround this historic Victorian property for a charming environment. There are a variety of room types to opt for here, all of which have been individually designed in a homely yet chic feel.
Each morning, guests can enjoy breakfast either in their room or in the lush garden. There’s also the option of evening wine tastings for that extra luxe touch.
Location: Set just a five-minute walk from the Historic Downtown of Santa Barbara, the Arlington Theatre is five blocks from here. Granada Theatre, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, and a host of cafes and restaurants are all very close by.
15. Belmond El Encanto
Perched high above Santa Barbara, the stunningly luxurious Belmond El Encanto offers a range of accommodation options – from garden bungalows to deluxe suites. The rooms are well thought out, with dark wood floors, fireplaces, and large seating areas.
This hotel offers guests the use of an outdoor pool, as well as a spa and wellness centre. In the evening, guests can enjoy dinner and drinks in the onsite restaurant and bar.
Location: With amazing Pacific Ocean views, this hotel is a five-minute drive from central Santa Barbara. The Santa Barbara Municipal Golf Course is a ten-minute drive away, while the Santa Barbara Mission is just two miles away.