The best hotels in Santa Barbara

Treat yourself to a wonderful stay when you choose one of these best hotels in Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara has a wealth of resorts to choose from. Image credit: Hotel Californian
Santa Barbara has a wealth of resorts to choose from. Image credit: Hotel Californian

The pace of life slows down considerably once you arrive in Santa Barbara, making this seaside community about 100 miles north of Los Angeles an ideal spot for relaxing break.

Upscale luxury awaits you at both sprawling resorts and cozy bed-and-breakfasts in Santa Barbara, letting you choose the type of vacation you want. Unwind happily at any of these spots when choosing where to stay in Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara resorts

Santa Barbara’s top resorts tend to be a little off the beaten path. Maybe you’ll head up into the Santa Ynez foothills to enjoy a sense of cultivated wilderness with ocean views and plenty of quiet, or perhaps you’ll choose one of the Santa Barbara hotels on the beach to the north or south of the busier downtown sections of town to provide seclusion, along with an unbridled level of luxury. Take a look at these Santa Barbara resorts, several of which are considered among the top hotels in the world and definitely some of the best hotels on the beach in California.

San Ysidro Ranch – A luxurious, secluded getaway

Head into the hills of Montecito to experience a level of luxury unlike any other. There’s a reason John and Jackie Kennedy honeymooned at the San Ysidro Ranch. Luxurious cottages provide complete seclusion, with private dining available on your own patio, fireplaces in every suite, and private hot tubs available on many decks.

During the day, head off on a hike along one of the 17 miles of trails that traipse across the 300 acres of the Ranch, then return for spa treatments in your own room.

The San Ysidro Ranch welcomes pets and children, offering babysitting services to let parents enjoy time together. Fine dining at The Stonehouse and the Plow & Angel attracts foodies from all over the region.

Belmond El Encanto – incredible views

Located in the foothills of the Santa Ynez mountains near the Santa Barbara Bowl, the Belmond El Encanto offers incredible views across the city to the Pacific Ocean (with some of the best views in the horizon pool). You’ll be nestled in your own private forest in this beautifully landscaped resort, which spreads across 7 acres and features 100-year-old wisteria vines.

Bungalows feature private patios, wood-burning fireplaces, and marble bathrooms. Use the hotel’s available electric bikes to visit the many wine tasting rooms within easy reach. The hotel’s spa offers restorative treatments using local ingredients, and multiple restaurants on the property feature mouthwatering cuisine that incorporates herbs grown on-site and artisanal cheeses made from the milk of the hotel’s resident cow.

The Four Seasons Biltmore

This gracious resort was known for its luxury long before the Four Seasons chain took it over more than 30 years ago, and the decades of tradition and pampering continue. Spacious guest rooms and suites, set in Spanish revival architecture, are dotted across the 22-acre property.

A view out to the on-site pool. Image credit: The Four Seasons Biltmore
A view out to the on-site pool. Image credit: The Four Seasons Biltmore

Book a treatment at the high-end spa, order an in-room massage, or just sink into the luxurious bedding to relax. The beach is just a quick stroll across the street, or unwind with a great book by the pool. Certified staff at the Four Seasons Biltmore host supervised activities for your kids, and two lauded on-site restaurants serve the best in your choice of seafood or Italian-California fusion cuisine.

Ritz-Carlton Bacara Resort & Spa

Cruise up Pacific Coast Highway to enjoy the decadent luxury of this beachside resort north of Santa Barbara. Every room or suite enjoys a view, and most rooms feature fireplaces to help you warm up on a colder evening.

A world-class spa helps you pamper yourself with a massage or a visit to the steam room, or enjoy a swim in the saltwater pool. A wine shop and tasting room let you sample some of the region’s fine wines, and the signature restaurant Angel Oak holds more than 12,000 bottles for your tasting pleasure.

With a 2-mile natural beach stretching along the Pacific edge of the Ritz-Carlton Bacara Resort & Spa property, you’ll find an undisturbed spot on the sand — or check out the resort’s many activities to fill your vacation days.

Bed-and-breakfasts in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is a city that feels like an intimate village, and staying in a B&B in Santa Barbara can provide one of the most natural ways to explore the town. These B&Bs feature personalized service within a beautifully designed environment, with staff who go out of their way to make sure you enjoy your stay.

Simpson House Inn

This adults-only boutique inn near downtown Santa Barbara has a range of accommodation options, including English cottages, a carriage barn, or the original Victorian manor built in 1874. Each room is individually decorated and features a wood-burning fireplace and private patio where you can enjoy your complimentary gourmet cooked breakfast each morning.

The lush gardens of the Simpson House Inn have won the vaunted Santa Barbara Beautiful award, and you’ll appreciate the view as you stroll to the daily evening reception featuring wine, hors d’oeuvres and desserts. Ask the welcoming staff if you want to arrange for picnic lunches, free bikes, or beach equipment.

The Upham Hotel

This charming B&B, located in a Victorian building built in 1871, is actually the oldest continuously operating hotel in California. The Upham Hotel offers all guests complimentary breakfast and a wine reception each evening, as a way to combine the intimate vibe of a B&B with the amenities of a larger hotel. Follow that reception with dinner at Louie’s California Bistro, which serves Californian comfort food and offers a significant wine list featuring bottles from many local vineyards.

The location near State Street puts all of Santa Barbara’s prized boutiques within easy reach, and afternoon tea is a relaxing way to spend an afternoon in a serene atmosphere.

Downtown Santa Barbara hotels

Downtown in Santa Barbara means State Street, a beautiful boulevard that’s home to world-class boutiques and restaurants. In recent years, the downtown Santa Barbara attractions have expanded to include the Funk Zone, a walkable area that’s home to the Urban Wine Trail as well as the local arts community, and the perfect spot to find the best in coffee shops, wine tasting rooms, artsy boutiques and galleries, and intriguing restaurants. In addition, from these downtown Santa Barbara hotels, you have easy access to multiple beaches and Stearns Wharf, the over-the-water continuation of State Street.

Hotel Californian

You may find yourself humming the Eagles’ tune with almost the same name as you check in to this charming hotel. The Hotel Californian surrounds you with the beautiful Spanish revival architecture that Santa Barbara is known for while plying you with high-end amenities including Nespresso coffee makers and fully stocked cocktail carts.

The rooftops of Hotel Californian. Image credit: Hotel Californian
The rooftops of Hotel Californian. Image credit: Hotel Californian

The in-house restaurant Goat Tree is happy to pack you a picnic basket for your day at the beach (only a block or so away), or you can spend your downtime exploring the intriguing restaurants and shops of the Funk Zone. After you return to the hotel, treat yourself to a body treatment at the Turkish-inspired spa.

Spanish Garden Inn

Couples looking for a romantic weekend can’t go wrong at the Spanish Garden Inn, located just off State Street in Santa Barbara’s downtown shopping area. Every room features a fireplace, soaking tub, balcony or garden patio, and free breakfast every day to enhance your relaxation.

A Wine Bar get-together every evening helps you unwind, and a concierge is ready to help you plan all your Santa Barbara adventures. In-room spa services are available at this boutique inn include a wide variety of massages as well as facials, acupressure treatments, and aromatherapy.

Kimpton Canary Hotel

Sink into a four-poster bed and awaken to a dazzling view from your balcony’s French doors when you stay at this luxury boutique hotel just off State Street.

Take in the views from your four-poster bed. Image credit: Kimpton Canary Hotel
Take in the views from your four-poster bed. Image credit: Kimpton Canary Hotel

Custom metalwork and tilework adorn the classic Spanish architecture of this beautiful spot, and the rooftop pool is the ideal place to watch the sun sinks into the Pacific Ocean. Farm-to-table cuisine awaits you at the noted Finch and Fork restaurant, and the Kimpton Canary Hotel staff are on hand to help you book private wine tastings at local vineyards.

Take advantage of the hotel bicycles to explore Santa Barbara’s oceanfront bike paths before returning in time for each evening’s hosted wine hour. The staff at this boutique hotel are also happy to arrange for surfing or scuba adventures or to get you tickets to the Santa Barbara Bowl or other entertainment venues in town.

Santa Barbara Beachfront hotels

Santa Barbara features miles of natural beaches, with the city itself hugging the shoreline in a way that provides easy access to urban fun and beachside beauty all in one location. Near downtown Santa Barbara, the area combines breathtaking sunset views and fun in the sand within reach of the city’s shopping, entertainment, and restaurant hubs. Check out these Santa Barbara beachfront hotels to find your perfect location.

Harbor View Inn

Sitting right on Cabrillo Boulevard, central Santa Barbara’s beachside drive, with Stearns Wharf stretching out before you, the Harbor View Inn is the prime location to enjoy West Beach, the harbor, and downtown Santa Barbara’s shopping.

Sit poolside at Harbor View Inn. Image credit: Harbor View Inn
Sit poolside at Harbor View Inn. Image credit: Harbor View Inn

Its classic design features the tilework and wooden beams that Santa Barbara is known for, with patios and balconies attached to every room to allow the ocean breezes to flow freely. Whether you’re looking for a cozy romantic retreat or a home base for family fun, this luxury hotel can help make you feel pampered with the Spa Beaumontia, including the spa’s well-known “jet lag” facial.

The outdoor pool and hot tub include a wading area for little ones, plus a full-service pool bar for the adults — or just walk across the street to enjoy the sand and gentle surf of Santa Barbara Bay. Three restaurants on site help you dine in comfort without even walking down the street.

Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort

Right across the street from Santa Barbara’s East Beach sits this spacious resort, which features an Olympic-sized pool, fitness center, tennis courts, and luxurious Spa Del Mar. Take advantage of the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort‘s complimentary bicycles to explore the Funk Zone or to go shopping downtown. Journey a bit further to discover miles of bike trails and the nearby Andree Clark Bird Refuge, as well as wineries worth visiting.

Four on-site restaurants give you plenty of options to suit your appetite, and five pristine beaches are all within each reach. At this convenient and luxurious hotel, every room enjoys a spectacular view. Ask the staff to arrange for a private dinner catered on the beach, or enjoy a wine tasting in the Fess Parker Wine Tasting room.

Hyatt Centric Santa Barbara

Located along Santa Barbara’s “American Riviera” stretch of Cabrillo Boulevard, this beachfront hotel puts you in an ideal location to visit everything from the East Beach volleyball courts and Stearns Wharf to the Santa Barbara Zoo, the Funk Zone, and the Urban Wine Trail, all within a quick stroll.

The Hyatt Centric artfully blends modern amenities with the original structures of the grand hotel that first opened here in 1931, adding an outdoor pool, hot tub, fitness center, and two restaurants. If you need to conduct a little business while you’re in town, the hotel features a business center that’s open 24/7 as well as several meeting and conference rooms, many with ocean views.

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