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The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara
Photograph: Courtesy The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara

The 8 best hotels in Santa Barbara

The best hotels in Santa Barbara await for your next getaway to the American Riviera

Written by
Kai Oliver-Kurtin
&
Chiara Wilkinson
Contributors
Georgia Evans
&
Lola Christina Alao
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Choosing the best Santa Barbara hotel isn't the easiest thing. After all, there are so many options, each with a different vibe and aesthetic. Do you want to hang by the beach or opt for a hidden gem nestled up in the hills? Sleep next to the nightlife or doze without a party in sight? Is a pool non-negotiable? And what about entertainment for the kids? Surely you want to be right by the city’s great attractions (don't miss Old Mission Santa Barbara!), tastiest restaurants, and top wineries? See, there's a lot to consider.

This central coast hot spot attracts tourists year-round, with temps in the 60s and 70s all year long and an easily accessible location just 90 miles north of Los Angeles. There are more than 200 wineries located throughout Santa Barbara, so your itinerary should definitely include a day of wine tasting. The Funk Zone is the place to bar hop, and the Santa Barbara Courthouse is a very popular place to visit (and get married!) while in town. 

But whatever your hotel requirements may be, we’ve scrolled through Santa Barbara's many hotels and whittled them down to the cream of the crop. Now you just have to pick the right place for your perfect stay. 

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Best hotels in Santa Barbara

The Kimpton Canary Hotel in Santa Barbara
Photograph: Courtesy Kimpton Canary Hotel, Santa Barbara

1. The Kimpton Canary Hotel in Santa Barbara

Snuggled in downtown Santa Barbara, this boutique hotel captivates visitors with indulgent amenities and impressive views. Each intimate, Spanish-style room comes with a cozy four-poster bed, hardwood floors, hand-painted tiles, and a complimentary yoga mat (you never know when you need to downward dog). Hotel restaurant Finch & Fork serves tapas such as hamachi crudo and ricotta gnocchi that can be enjoyed in your room or on the terrace. But it's the rooftop that's the true gem of the hotel, which boasts 360-degree vistas from mountains to shoreline, an outdoor fireplace, and a pool. Plus, The Canary is also pet-friendly, so why not bring a four-legged friend?

  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels

The Leta is situated a short drive from the center of Santa Barbara, but don’t let that put you off  this is a super-stylish place you won’t want to leave. Few hotels in this area are as thoughtfully designed, from the glistening Airstream trailer that sits outside the main entrance to the stunning surfer-shack lobby. The simple yet cozy rooms even come with a record player and a selection of LPs. If live music is more your thing, there are band nights with local talent, which will surely get you dancing after visiting The Leta restaurant for California coastal cuisine.

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The Drift Hotel in Santa Barbara
Courtesy: Booking.com

3. The Drift Hotel in Santa Barbara

Drift Santa Barbara is located in the heart of this gorgeous coastal city. Offering top-notch accommodation options including large family rooms, suites with balconies, and penthouse apartments, this is the central hotel you need for your Santa Barbara trip. Other fantastic amenities include a restaurant for easy dining and a vibey bar for cosmo's at sunset. And if you're keen to explore, there are plenty of cafes, restaurants, and bars around the corner. We'd recommend spending Taco Tuesday at Sandbar – we'll take a tequila on the rocks while we're at it.

The Palihouse in Santa Barbara
Booking.com

4. The Palihouse in Santa Barbara

Nestled into Santa Barbara’s downtown Historic Presidio neighborhood (where you'll see lots of charming Spanish Colonial-inspired architecture), Palihouse has a Mediterranean aesthetic with Insta-worthy decor. With only 24 guestrooms and suites, it's definitely more of a boutique hotel that attracts a well-heeled clientele. The pet-friendly hotel offers complimentary bikes if you end up taking a break from lounging in the pool and courtyard area.

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The Hotel Californian in Santa Barbara
Booking.com

5. The Hotel Californian in Santa Barbara

Stay in luxury within Santa Barbara's lively Funk Zone at the Hotel Californian. The Moroccan-inspired property has 121 rooms plus an on-site spa, Majorelle, that's definitely worth the splurge. There are more than 1 million colorful tiles within the hotel, many of them hand-painted in Morocco. The hotel offers turndown service, bike rentals, electric vehicle chargers, beach chair and umbrella rentals, and even a library full of tech gadgets; board, card, and video games; and other entertainment. 

The Belmond El Encanto in Santa Barbara
Photograph: Courtesy El Encanto, Santa Barbara

6. The Belmond El Encanto in Santa Barbara

Marvel at the remarkable views and peaceful privacy in this historic hilltop hideaway. Built in 1918, El Encanto is Santa Barbara’s oldest existing hotel and has hosted some legendary celebs, including Clark Gable and Barbra Streisand. The excellently renovated site features classic cottages with modern tech amenities, an infinity pool, and a state-of-the-art spa. On-site dining options include coastal-inspired fare at The Dining Room, which boasts exquisite terrace views of the entire Santa Barbara coastline (perfect for a romantic candlelit dinner).

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The Ritz-Carlton Bacara Resort in Santa Barbara
Photograph: Courtesy The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara

7. The Ritz-Carlton Bacara Resort in Santa Barbara

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 rooms include balconies or patios with amazing views. If you're not tired out from all the relaxing at one of the two beaches or three infinity pools, guests have endless recreational activities at hand. There's everything from surfing lessons to yoga at the spa and fireside s’mores. Opt for classic dishes at The Bistro, or try out some of Angel Oak's prime modern steakhouse options. Extra perks include a dog-friendly policy and a supervised kids club that gives parents a bit of alone time.

The Hotel Milo in Santa Barbara
Photograph: Courtesy Hotel Milo, Santa Barbara

8. The Hotel Milo in Santa Barbara

Across the street from the beach and a short walk from downtown Santa Barbara’s restaurant and bar scene, Hotel Milo’s location is hard to beat. While its colorful rooms are a bit faded, Milo 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. Be sure to make good use of the free two-hour beach cruiser rentals while you're there.

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