Weekend getaways: The best Santa Barbara hotels

The top Santa Barbara hotels for your weekend getaways, from romantic hideaways to beachside party spots.

Photo courtesy San Ysidro Ranch

Choosing Santa Barbara hotels for top-notch weekend getaways can be tricky—there are lots of options, and their offerings differ greatly. Would you rather be beachside, or tucked into the hills? Is a pool a must? Entertainment for the kids? Maybe you're on a budget but can't stand the average motel vibe. Whatever it is you're looking for, we've found the seven Santa Barbara hotels that best encompass the city's hospitality scene.


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Splurge top pick: Canary Hotel

  • Price band: 3/4

Nestled in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara, this boutique hotel charms visitors with thoughtful amenities and gorgeous city views. Each intimate Spanish-style room comes with an incredibly cozy four-poster bed, hardwood floors, hand-painted tiles and—why not—a complimentary yoga mat. Hotel restaurant Finch & Fork serves delicious shareable tapas such as fish tacos and lamb burgers that can also be enjoyed in your room or on the roof terrace. The rooftop is the true gem of the hotel—lounge by the pool and admire the 360-degree views from mountains to sea, or cozy up by the outdoor fireplace for stargazing. The Canary is also very pet-friendly, without additional fees or restrictions. With this kind of hospitality, you might find it hard to leave.

Quick stats: Pool, spa, pet-friendly, walking distance to downtown, walking distance to beach

  1. 31 W Carrillo St
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Budget top pick: Agave Inn

  • Price band: 2/4

The Agave Inn, one of three properties that make up the Shelter Social Club, is a reasonably-priced, hip boutique motel with bright colors (think lemon yellow doors and turquoise or teal accent walls) and stylish details such as Mexican movie posters, painted tiles and lots of cacti. Along with all the regular amenities (fridge, microwave, flatscreen, etc.) there's free WiFi and morning coffee, and it's just a short walk to the restaurants and groceries on State Street. If you're looking for oceanside digs (or even a pool), this might not be the spot for you—but if you like your cheap room rates with a healthy side of charm, Agave will do.

Quick stats: Pet-friendly, walking distance to downtown

  1. 3222 State St
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For lots of privacy: El Encanto Hotel

  • Price band: 4/4

Marvel at the stunning views and serene privacy in this historic hilltop hideaway. Built in 1918, El Encanto is Santa Barbara’s oldest existing hotel and has hosted everyone from Clark Gable to Barbra Streisand. The newly renovated site features updated cottages with flatscreens and iPod docks, an infinity pool and a state-of-the-art spa. Appealing dining options include a mix of new and classic as well: A locally sourced California-French-Asian fusion restaurant with exquisite terrace views of the entire Santa Barbara coastline is perfect for a romantic candlelit dinner.

Quick stats: Pool, spa, pet-friendly

  1. 800 Alvarado Pl
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For a romantic weekend: San Ysidro Ranch

  • Price band: 4/4

This romantic hideaway in Montecito's foothills overlooking the Pacific is a beloved wedding and anniversary destination for good reason. The Ranch's magical grounds are flawlessly landscaped and manicured, and you need only read a list of iconic past guests to believe the long-lived hype— John and Jackie Kennedy honeymooned here in 1953, and Vivien Leigh exchanged vows with Sir Laurence Olivier at midnight in the rose garden. Guests adopt a leisurely country lifestyle while cozying up in rustic cottages with hand-picked antiques, warmed tile floors and private patios (some complete with outdoor rainfall showers and sunken hot tubs) as well as modern amenities like flatscreen TVs. In keeping with the historic ambience, two popular hotel restaurants provide high-quality, old-fashioned dishes (think steaks and Baked Alaska). Many of the cottages are also dog-friendly, with pet massages available for your furry friend alongside your own in-room spa treatment.

Quick stats: Pool, spa, pet-friendly, kid-friendly

  1. 900 San Ysidro Ln
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For an all-inclusive stay: Bacara Resort and Spa

  • Price band: 3/4

This picturesque getaway could be mistaken for the coast of Italy, set up with Mediterranean-style villas spread out over a long stretch of beach in Goleta (a 15-minute drive from downtown Santa Barbara). Its 354 spacious guestrooms include balconies or patios with views of mountains, gardens or sparkling ocean. Guests have endless recreational activities at hand, with everything from surfing lessons and yoga at the spa to family movie screenings and fireside cocoa and s’mores. Hotel fine dining options are decidedly not the main event, but you can always opt for classic dishes at the bar instead. Extra perks include a dog-friendly policy and a supervised kids club that grants parents some quality vacation time.

Quick stats: Pool, spa, pet-friendly, kid-friendly, walking distance to beach

  1. 8301 Hollister Ave
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For brand-name pampering: Four Seasons Resort - The Biltmore

  • Price band: 4/4

Opened in 1927 as one of the legendary Biltmore hotels, this beautiful luxury resort's old-world charm is now enhanced with Four Seasons’ signature pampering. Located on the coast of ritzy Montecito, the Biltmore includes endless amenities—a heated 'Jungle Pool' with underwater music, world-class couples’ oceanfront spa suites, fresh fruit skewers and cooled towels served poolside and a private stairway that leads straight to famous Butterfly Beach. The services for kids are just as convenient, varying from 24-hour babysitter availability to a ‘You Dine, We Play’ program that allows parents to savor a refined romantic dinner with breathtaking ocean views while the little ones are kept full and occupied. Heavenly? You bet.

Quick stats: Pool, spa, pet-friendly, kid-friendly, walking distance to beach

  1. 1260 Channel Dr
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For beachside partying: Hotel Oceana

  • Price band: 2/4

Across the street from the beach and a short walking distance from downtown Santa Barbara’s restaurant and bar scene, Hotel Oceana’s location cannot be beat. While its colorful rooms are a bit faded, Oceana is a good fit for visitors who prefer to spend their stay with constant access to the beach and to booze on State Street without worrying about the drive back. This quaint hotel is complete with lush tropical greenery, two pools and a jacuzzi often dominated by a young crowd. Complimentary treats include a full continental breakfast and free 2-hour beach cruiser rentals, which almost makes up for their steep $18 nightly parking fee.

Quick stats: Pool, walking distance to downtown, walking distance to beach

  1. 202 W Cabrillo Blvd
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