×

15 Best Hotels in Santa Barbara

Written by Karen Hastings
Apr 9, 2019

Stylish and sophisticated, Santa Barbara's best hotels enjoy a spectacular setting surrounded by mountains and the sea. From beachfront resorts to intimate boutique hotels and charming bed and breakfasts, it's possible to find fun places to stay, whether you're planning a romantic getaway or a family vacation.

If you want easy access to Santa Barbara's top attractions, as well as excellent shops and restaurants, one of the best places to stay in Santa Barbara is downtown, near State Street. For a romantic weekend getaway, couples can book a room in a charming boutique hotel or bed and breakfast downtown or stay in a romantic hotel in the Riviera neighborhood in the hills overlooking the city.

For those who want a mix of beach fun and downtown action, hotels along the Santa Barbara waterfront near Stearns Wharf are ideal. Here, family-friendly hotels and luxury resorts sit across the road from some of Santa Barbara's best beaches, and you can still walk or hop aboard a shuttle to attractions like the Santa Barbara Zoo, the harbor, and State Street shopping. Wander a couple of blocks away from the sea, and you'll hit the hip restaurants and entertainment venues of the Funk Zone.

About a 10-minute drive from downtown, upscale Montecito is home to some of Santa Barbara's top hotels and luxury beach resorts. Attractions in the area include the botanical estate gardens at Lotusland, exclusive shops and restaurants, and sparkling beaches.

Goleta, about 10 miles west of downtown Santa Barbara, is a great place to stay if you're looking for hotels near UCSB (University of California Santa Barbara) or the Santa Barbara airport.

Happily, many of Santa Barbara's best resorts and hotels offer complimentary use of bicycles to explore this pedal-friendly town, and many are pet-friendly, so you can bring your four-legged friends with you, too.

On This Page:

Best Luxury Hotels in Santa Barbara

1. Rosewood Miramar Beach

Rosewood Miramar Beach | Photo Copyright: Karen Hastings

Opened in early 2019, the magnificent Rosewood Miramar Beach, on 16 oceanfront acres in Montecito, graces its namesake beach and is one of Santa Barbara's only hotels on the beach. The resort's white-painted buildings and bungalows preside over a pretty slice of sand and sea, and the views are breathtaking.

Inside, the tone is sophisticated beach chic, with white color schemes, chandeliers, and splashes of marble. The 124 rooms and 37 suites echo this elegant aesthetic. All come with Nespresso machines; luxury bath amenities; dual sinks; freestanding tubs; and furnished terraces or patios, some with stunning sea views.

Sip a cool drink on the beachfront deck, dine on fresh locally sourced fare at Malibu Farm at Miramar, or dress up for Southern Italian inspired cuisine at Caruso's. If you're in the mood for a little pampering, head to Sense, A Rosewood Spa for luxurious coastal-inspired treatments. Yoga on the beach, bocce ball, and relaxing by one of the two sparkling pools are other popular activities.

Address: 1759 S. Jameson Lane, Montecito, California

Accommodation: Rosewood Miramar Beach

2. Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara

Photo Source: Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara

Set amid tropical gardens, across a narrow road from Montecito's Butterfly Beach, the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara is a favorite hideaway for visiting celebrities. One of Santa Barbara's best hotels, this Grand Dame resort accommodates guests in Spanish Colonial-style buildings and secluded bungalows. French doors, fireplaces, silky-soft linens, deep soaking tubs, and luxe toiletries are typical features.

When you're not swanning around on the beach, you can dine at one of the resort's four superb restaurants, including the Italian-inspired Bella Vista; play croquet or tennis; bask by the pools; and relax at the sea-view spa, which lavishes guests with special products featuring Santa Barbara scents. Golf privileges are available at local courses, and some room rates include access to the exclusive Coral Casino Beach & Cabana Club directly on Butterfly Beach.

Address: 1260 Channel Drive, Santa Barbara, California

Accommodation: Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara

3. Simpson House Inn

Photo Source: Simpson House Inn

Steps from downtown attractions, Simpson House Inn is a home-away-from-home hidden behind tall hedges on an acre of English gardens. Elegant and secluded, this stately boutique hotel graces the list of Santa Barbara's most romantic hotels.

The charming rooms are all individually decorated and dispersed among an 1874 Victorian Estate Home, a restored barn, and cute garden cottages. Oriental rugs and antique furnishings evoke the elegance of its Victorian roots, and the most romantic rooms feature fireplaces, four-poster beds, and jetted tubs for two.

Enjoy the included gourmet breakfast on the sunny patio or in the privacy of your room, with fresh-baked pastries, eggs, and vegetarian options. Other perks include afternoon tea and evening hors d'oeuvres, and the hotel is a short stroll from some of Santa Barbara's best downtown restaurants. When you're not out sightseeing, you can sign up for a soothing in-room spa treatment.

Address: 121 E. Arrellaga Street, Santa Barbara, California

Accommodation: Simpson House Inn

4. The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara

Photo Source: The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara

Sitting atop oceanfront bluffs on 72 palm-studded acres, The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara is one of only two beachfront hotels in the Santa Barbara area. This 5-star resort is also a great family resort, with a dedicated kids' club offering action-packed activities for the little ones.

Staying here feels like escaping to a stylish Spanish village. Occupying white-washed villas, the bright, well-appointed rooms feature Spanish Colonial styling, with features like distressed ceiling beams, four-poster beds, Frette linens, fireplaces, marble vanities, deep soaking tubs, and balconies or patios with ocean or garden views. For extra space, reserve one of the hotel suites. You can also upgrade to the Club Lounge, which includes a concierge and gourmet snacks.

You'll never be bored here. In your spare time, you can hide away in the cabanas by the three infinity pools, bask on the two-mile-long beach, play tennis on the four har-tru clay courts, unwind with a luxury treatment at the multi-level spa, or sign up for a complimentary yoga or pilates class. Dining is also a highlight. Options range from a cafe and casual bistro to the oceanfront restaurant Angel Oak.

Address: 8301 Hollister Avenue, Goleta, California

Accommodation: The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara

5. Belmond El Encanto

Photo Source: Belmond El Encanto

If you're planning a honeymoon or romantic getaway, Belmond El Encanto is the perfect choice. High in the hills of Santa Barbara's Riviera neighborhood, a five-minute drive from downtown, this 5-star hotel nestles amid lush gardens with views over the red-roofed city to the distant sea.

Decorated in California craftsman meets Spanish Colonial style, the private bungalows pamper guests with features like heated floors in the marble bathrooms, luxe linens, and deep tubs. Fireplaces flicker in some rooms on cool nights.

The hotel's restaurant serves up coastal California cuisine in an elegant dining room or on an expansive terrace with stunning city and ocean views framed by eucalyptus trees. During your stay, you can recline by the zero-edge pool, meditate by the lily pond, work out at the gym, or sign up for a couples massage or a stint in the eucalyptus steam room at the spa. Valet parking is available, and should you wish to venture further afield, the resort's Mercedes Benz Sprinter will whisk you anywhere within a five-mile radius.

Address: 800 Alvarado Place, Santa Barbara, California

Accommodation: Belmond El Encanto

6. Hotel Californian

Photo Source: Hotel Californian

In a superb location, this relatively new luxury boutique hotel blends Spanish and Moroccan style and offers the perfect balance between a downtown stay and a beach vacation. It occupies two sides of State Street, steps from restaurants and shops and a block from the waterfront. Splashing fountains, potted palms, and white-washed buildings with red tile roofs enhance the Spanish feel, and the bright, stylish rooms continue this theme, with standout features like custom furnishings and Moroccan-inspired tiles. Some rooms have Juliet balconies, and the best have ocean views.

When you're not out sightseeing, you can sign up for a treatment at the Turkish-inspired spa; sunbathe by the lovely rooftop pool with ocean views; or enjoy a Mediterranean-inspired meal at the Goat Tree cafe or Blackbird, the hotel's excellent fine-dining restaurant.

Address: 36 State Street, Santa Barbara, California

Accommodation: Hotel Californian

7. Santa Barbara Inn

Photo Source: Santa Barbara Inn

Across the road from the beach, the friendly, family-run, Santa Barbara Inn offers affordable luxury with a Mediterranean feel. The location is handy, especially if you have kids in tow. You are only steps from the sand and volleyball courts on East Beach and a short walk from the Santa Barbara Zoo, and parents will appreciate the proximity to the trendy Funk Zone, as well as downtown shops and restaurants.

A highlight of this friendly boutique hotel are the super spacious rooms. Available in multiple configurations, the rooms feature elegant Spanish-style decor with tropical accents, and all come with private balconies featuring mountain or ocean views, large bathrooms with dual sinks and heated floors, super comfy pillow-top mattresses, and HDTVs with movie channels. Suites add four-poster beds and Jacuzzi tubs.

A welcome perk is the daily continental breakfast included in the room rate. You can also dine on coastal-Italian-inspired cuisine at Convivo restaurant, work out in the fitness center, take a dip in the heated outdoor pool and hot tub, or snuggle up by the fire pit on the ocean-view terrace after a day of basking on the beach.

Address: 901 East Cabrillo Boulevard, Santa Barbara, California

Accommodation: Santa Barbara Inn

8. Kimpton Canary Hotel

Photo Source: Kimpton Canary Hotel

In the center of downtown, the 4-star Kimpton Canary Hotel is a great choice for travelers who want a hip hangout in the heart of the city buzz. Spanish Mission-style sets the tone in the common areas and rooms, with dark wood and wrought-iron accents, colorful tiles, and stylish art. Rooms vary in size and brightness, but common features include four-poster pillow-top beds draped with fluffy duvets, hardwood floors, in-room yoga mats, and city views. Book the luxe 1,300 square-foot Canary suite for the ultimate stay with the best views.

Foodies will appreciate the local's favorite Finch & Fork restaurant serving seasonal Santa Barbara cuisine, and if you want to unwind after a day of city sightseeing, head to the lovely rooftop pool with mountain views. The beach is a mile away via shuttle or, if you're up for the exercise, you can stroll there down State Street and browse the shops along the way.

Accommodation: Kimpton Canary Hotel

9. Harbor View Inn

Photo Source: Harbor View Inn

Harbor View Inn sits in a fantastic waterfront location, opposite Stearns Wharf and steps from State Street's shops and restaurants. This is the heart of the tourist area, but you can find peace and tranquility in the hotel's comfy rooms and inviting pool area. All the rooms are traditional in style and come with private patios or balconies, Keurig coffee makers, L'Occitane bath amenities, waffle robes, HDTV with movie channels, and newspapers delivered daily. Ocean-view rooms are the pick of the bunch, and the suites offer even more space.

On-site amenities include a heated pool and Jacuzzi; a well-equipped fitness center; gift shop; business center; and the delightful Spa Beaumontia, which even offers a jet lag facial. Turndown service is a lovely touch.

Address: 28 W. Cabrillo Boulevarde, Santa Barbara, California

Accommodation: Harbor View Inn

10. Spanish Garden Inn

Photo Source: Spanish Garden Inn

Nestled in a residential neighborhood in downtown Santa Barbara, the charming Spanish Garden Inn offers a convenient location with a peaceful neighborhood feel. Personalized service makes you feel at home at this family-run boutique hotel, and this is also another one of the best hotels for couples in the downtown area.

Spanish Colonial styling extends throughout the property, with wrought-iron accents, colorful tiles, and splashing fountains. Comfy and cozy, the rooms come with features like four-poster beds, French press coffee makers, Frette robes, Bose docking stations, gas fireplaces, and private patios or balconies.

Relax in the sunny courtyard, snuggle up by the fire in the lobby, stay fit in the small gym, or take a dip in the outdoor pool. Turndown eases bedtime, and breakfast is included in the rates, with tasty options like quiche, granola, fresh fruit, and smoothies. Take time to admire the beautiful watercolors of Santa Barbara sites, painted by the inn's owner, which adorn the walls in the rooms and common areas.

Address: 915 Garden Street, Santa Barbara, California

Accommodation: Spanish Garden Inn

Best Bed and Breakfast Hotels in Santa Barbara

The best bed and breakfast hotels in Santa Barbara are in attractive downtown residential neighborhoods with easy access to top attractions, shops, and restaurants. These are great choices if you prefer a home-away-from-home feel and a hearty meal to start your day.

1. Cheshire Cat Inn

Photo Source: Cheshire Cat Inn

With a name like Cheshire Cat it's no surprise that this charming bed and breakfast features a whimsical Alice in Wonderland theme. Owned and run by the same family for more than 30 years, the inn sits in a residential area downtown, so you can easily walk to shops and restaurants.

The rooms occupy two quaint Queen Anne Victorian homes, a coach house, and cute cottages. All are uniquely decorated and vary in size and configuration, with plush beds, antique furnishings, robes, and fresh flowers. Many also come with sitting areas, fireplaces, and balconies. Rates include daily homemade breakfast and afternoon hors d'oeuvres served in the flower-filled gardens.

Address: 36 W. Valerio Street, Santa Barbara, California

Accommodation: Cheshire Cat Inn

2. The Eagle Inn

Photo Source: The Eagle Inn

In the West Beach neighborhood, about two blocks back from the waterfront, this Spanish Colonial-style boutique B&B offers excellent value for money in a convenient location. The Santa Barbara Harbor is a three-minute walk away, and you can walk to downtown shops and restaurants, as well as Stearns Wharf, in about 10 minutes.

All the rooms and private cottages are unique here, but typical features include coffee makers, air conditioning, refrigerators, flat-screen TVs with free movie channels, and DVD players with access to the DVD library. Family rooms are also available, and some rooms come with large jetted tubs, fireplaces, and balconies. As well as the homemade hot breakfast, you can feast on complimentary fresh-baked cookies every afternoon.

Address: 232 Natoma Avenue, Santa Barbara, California

Accommodation: The Eagle Inn

Best Hotel near UCSB

Bordered by more beautiful beaches, the city of Goleta, about a 15-minute drive north of downtown Santa Barbara, is home to the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB). If you're looking for accommodation near the university or hotels near Santa Barbara airport, this area is the best place to stay. Keep in mind that for these hotels near Santa Barbara but not located in the main downtown area, it's best to have your own transport if you want to see the top Santa Barbara sites.

1. Pacifica Suites Santa Barbara

Photo Source: Pacifica Suites Santa Barbara

Set amid lush gardens filled with heritage trees and rare plants, Pacifica Suites is one of the best hotels near UCSB—the college is an easy four-minute drive away. The all-suite accommodations also make this a great hotel for extended stays. Hotel suites feature separate living areas with pullout sofas, traditional furnishings, soft robes, mini-fridges, gourmet coffee, and balconies or terraces.

When you're not visiting your college grad or exploring the nearby sights, you can relax by the lovely outdoor pool, soak in the Jacuzzi, catch up on work at the 24-hour business center, or celebrate a special event at the historic 1880s Sexton House. A bonus here are the complimentary cooked-to-order breakfasts and the Monday through Thursday evening socials. An airport shuttle is also available.

Address: 5490 Hollister Avenue, Goleta, California

Accommodation: Pacifica Suites Santa Barbara

Best Budget Hotels in Santa Barbara

Cheap hotels can be hard to find in Santa Barbara, but a couple of hotels and motels offer relatively reasonable rates close to downtown attractions. Keep an eye out for special vacation packages and, as always, staying in the off-season can save you money. Here are two nice hotels in convenient locations that won't break the bank:

1. Agave Inn

Photo Source: Agave Inn

On upper State Street, about a five-minute drive from the city center, the delightfully retro Agave Inn is one of the best hotel deals near downtown. It offers affordable motel-style lodging with a Southwestern vibe. The hotel fronts Santa Barbara's main street, and you can walk to mom-and-pop shops and restaurants in either direction.

Mexican blankets and poster art add colorful touches to the bright rooms, and each comes with a flat-screen TV, iPod player, coffee maker, microwave, and mini-fridge. Some rooms have kitchenettes and pullout sofas. Adding even more value here is the free parking and Wi-Fi.

Address: 3222 State Street, Santa Barbara, California

Accommodation: Agave Inn

2. Holiday Inn Express Santa Barbara

Photo Source: Holiday Inn Express Santa Barbara

Convenient and comfortable, the Holiday Inn Express Santa Barbara is one of the best affordable hotels in the heart of town. This Historic Landmark property is only a block back from all the shops and restaurants of State Street, and you can walk to Stearns Wharf and the waterfront in about 15 minutes.

Spanish Revival accents like colorful tiles and wrought iron railings blend with exposed brick walls to create an unexpectedly atmospheric stay for a chain hotel. All rooms come with fluffy duvets, HDTVs, free Wi-fi, coffee makers, microwaves, mini-fridges, and your choice of pillows. The free hot breakfast is another perk.

Address: 17 W. Haley Street, Santa Barbara, California

Accommodation: Holiday Inn Express Santa Barbara

Discover destinations, find outdoor adventures, follow the journeys of our travel writers around the world, and be inspired.

More on California