If you’re looking for California’s fabled good weather along with charming architecture and good food, Santa Barbara might be for you. A gem of Southern California, it boasts beaches, mountains, and a botanical garden as well as indoor attractions like the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. A diverse culinary scene offers something for every palette, from traditional Japanese Kaiseki at Yoichi’s to the more immediate pleasure of crab cakes and little neck clams at Brophy Bros.
Bordered by the Santa Ynez mountains and the Pacific Ocean, the presence of white stucco buildings and red-tiled roofs add colonial aesthetics to the landscape. Combined with the richness of local plants and wildlife, it’s a beautiful place to stay—especially if choosing from one of our beachfront options below.
From $760/ night
Like any Four Seasons property, this resort is a visual treat as much as it is a luxury getaway. Hovering aside the Channel Islands, you can overlook the Pacific Ocean from a bungalow or terrace. You should have plenty of seclusion to enjoy all the nature, and perhaps you won’t even hear that much noise from the city—after all, you’ll be on 22-acres of jungle plants and manicured gardens, plus tennis courts, swimming pools, a high-end gym and that most classic of relaxing locales, the on-site spa. Or, if you really want to splurge, ask for the Ty Warner bungalow—a 2,000 square foot suite with a king bed and jungle solitude surrounding. (Yes, it’s named for the Beanie Babies creator, whose wealth enabled him to buy this property back in 2000.)
From $389/ night
Like its surroundings (and its namesake), the Santa Barbara Inn’s interiors are a mix of Spanish motifs and coastal chic. Add in palm trees, an outdoor pool, a bar, and plenty of air and space and you have an attractive boutique property that should melt all your worries with its beauty alone. If not, try relaxing in the heated outdoor pool, or walk across the street to the beach. After your first night in Santa Barbara, you can rest excited, knowing a complimentary breakfast awaits you in the morning—in Convivo Restaurant or, better yet, on the terrace, with a sea view on the side.
From $277/ night
Another contender in the field of ‘beach vibes meet colonial Spain,’ the Hotel Milo sits near West Beach and the popular Stearns Wharf. (It’s also close to the aforementioned seafood joint Brophy’s.) Santa Barbara’s art district, dubbed the Funk Zone, can be reached in 10 minutes by foot, but this hotel is yet another with inviting aesthetics. This time expect blue and white palettes, and materials like rattan, wicker and bamboo, further evoking seaside calm. There are amenities, too—such as two heated pools and a gym—but the relaxation and ambience will matter a lot when you arrive weary after a long train ride in—a good option by the way, as the Amtrak station is only 10 minutes from Hotel Milo.
From $190/ night
The kind folks at Marina Beach Motel have done the necessary counting for you: this property is only “37 steps from the beach,” according to their website. That must be West Beach (which is 400 feet away). East Beach is 1,700 feet away—more than 37 steps, but probably not enough walking to warrant complaint. The Marina Beach is also a more affordable option while maintaining a decent amount of amenities and style. Bicycle rental, free wifi, HD TV, and continental breakfast are a few of the notable perks, while pet lovers will be happy to know the property is animal-friendly.
From $183/ night
A budget-friendly option, the Villa Rosa Inn may may not be gleaming and new, but its nostalgic, uniquely-decorated 18 guest rooms offer a lot to admirers of the quaint and cozy. Continental breakfast is included in your rate, as is afternoon wine and cheese, which might be relaxing after a day exploring Santa Barbara on foot. The Villa Rosa Inn offers great walkability, to dozens of restaurants as well as two beaches. If you’ve tired yourself out with people, you can retreat to Villa Rosa’s outdoor pool and hot tub, nestled in a private garden and courtyard.