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Aerial view of Mason Beach Inn and the shoreline in Santa Barbara.
Courtesy: Booking.comMason Beach Inn

The 10 best hotels in Santa Barbara walking distance to the beach

These amazing hotels in Santa Barbara await for your next getaway to the American Riviera


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 beside 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 best 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 temperatures in the 60s and 70s all year long, and an easily accessible location just 90 miles north of Los Angeles. Naturally, that means there's a hotel to cater for all preferences and budgets, but whatever yours are, you can bet we've got a spot for you. We’ve scrolled through Santa Barbara's many hotels and whittled them down to the cream of the crop. All you have to do is pick the right place for your perfect stay.

Updated for February 2024: To ensure you're in the know about the coolest properties in Santa Babara, we regularly update this list, and this time we've added a couple of newbies both, no more than a five-minute walk from room to sandy shores, and one offering an outdoor pool and spa. Bikini mode: on.

🎭 The best things to do in Santa Barbara
🛏 The best Airbnbs in Santa Barbara

Who makes the cut? While we might not stay in and review every hotel featured, we've based our list on our expert knowledge of the destination covered, editorial reviews, user reviews, hotel amenities and in-depth research to find you the best stays. This article includes affiliate links. These links have no influence on our editorial content. For more information, see our affiliate guidelines.

Best Santa Barbara hotels

1. Kimpton Canary Hotel

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'll 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.

Mood? Villa vibes.

Location perks? Super central, with State Street an easy five-minute walk away.

Budget range? On the pricier side.

Time Out tip: Got a four-legged friend? The Canary isn't just pet-tolerant, they love furry friends. So there's no extra charge, no size restrictions and they'll even provide bowls and beds.

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. If live music is your thing, there are band nights with local talent, which will surely get you dancing after visiting The Leta restaurant for Californian coastal cuisine.

Mood? Zen retreat.

Location perks? Goleta Beach is a five-minute bike ride away so it's time to grab the sunscreen.

Budget range? Decent for what's on offer.

Time Out tip: If you're a truly old-school music lover, bring your vinyl collection, because the simple yet cozy rooms come with a record player.


3. Drift 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 Cali city trip. Other amenities include a restaurant for easy dining and a vibey bar for Cosmos at sunset. And if you're keen to explore, there are plenty of cafes, restaurants, and bars around the corner.

Mood? Classic charm.

Location perks? On State Street… What more could you ask for in Santa Barbs?

Budget range? A satisfying variety of options.

Time Out tip: Staying all week? Beeline for Taco Tuesday at Sandbar—perfect with a tequila on the rocks.

4. Palihouse

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. There are only 24 guestrooms and suites, so it's definitely more of a boutique hotel that attracts a well-heeled clientele. And it's pet-friendly, so it looks like Fido's profile pic will be getting an update.

Mood? Tropical paradise.

Location perks? Less than two miles from both beaches with a whole lot of onsite amenities.

Budget range? Spenny.

Time Out tip: The Palihouse offers complimentary bikes, you know, if you can drag yourself away from lounging in the pool and courtyard area.


5. The Belmond El Encanto

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. Onsite dining options include coastal-inspired fare at The Dining Room, which boasts exquisite terrace views of the entire Santa Barbs coastline (perfect for a romantic candlelit dinner).

Mood? Romantic getaway.

Location perks? Sweeping sea views from the outdoor pool, what more could you want?

Budget range? As expensive as you'd expect from a place like this.

Time Out tip: Look out for the hotel's unique experiences, which include The Literary Club (with renowned authors) and al fresco movie nights.

6. The Ritz-Carlton Bacara

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 to fireside s’mores. Opt for classic dishes at The Bistro or try out some of Angel Oak's prime modern steakhouse options.

Mood? Five-star vibes.

Location perks? Adjacent to the Sandpiper Golf Course, with surrounding ocean vistas.

Budget range? Spenny but worth it.

Time Out tip: Extra perks include a dog-friendly policy and a supervised kids club that gives parents a bit of alone time.


7. Hotel Milo

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 sand 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 hot tub, which are often dominated by a young crowd.

Mood? Beachfront bliss.

Location perks? We cannot stress this enough—beachfront.

Budget range? An absolute steal.

Time Out tip: Be sure to make good use of the free two-hour beach cruiser rentals while you're there. They're Dutch-inspired. Fancy.

8. Simpson House Inn

History buffs rejoice! We've got a Victorian inn for you that was built in 1874. Lush, verdant and beautifully landscaped gardens surround the old structure, which boasts hardwood floors and old world décor inside. But don't fret, there are mod cons too. Like the TV, DVD player and coffeemaker you'll find in every room. A gourmet chef cooks up breakfast each morning, which is included in the price, and there are free bike rentals too.

Mood? Tropical idyll.

Location perks? It's just a five-minute walk from downtown Barbs and five blocks from Arlington Theatre.

Budget range? Mid-range, creeping on high.

Time Out tip: Sure breakfast is included, but don't miss the daily afternoon appetizer buffet.


9. Mason Beach Inn

Some locations sell themselves and this is one of them. Just a five-minute walk from the beach and a short drive from Santa Barbara Mission, the inn offers guests a convenient location and a stylish residence to call home while exploring all The American Riviera has to offer. Rooms here are bright and modernly furnished with comfy beds, seating, and a 55" TV, while the suites are a roomier affair, offering cool additions like a wet bar and kitchenette. Mornings and afternoons at the inn often look like relaxing at the spa, taking a few laps around the pool, soaking in those precious rays on the loungers, or chilling in the hot tub. Now this is what we call a beach getaway. 

Mood? Poolside paradise.

Location perks? Bike rentals and Tommy Bahama rentals are available.

Budget range? Moderately priced for a typical three days of kicking it back in Santa Barbara – bonus point for being a block away from the beach. 

Time Out tip: Grab a bike and head downtown to enjoy the beautiful historic buildings, market stalls, and delicious food spots like El Paseo.

10. La Playa Inn Santa Barbara

Another great handpicked treasure, just a few steps from the beach is the La Playa Inn. Boasting that gorgeous quintessential Spanish architecture (who else can't get enough of those arches?), spacious guest rooms with balconies, and a dreamy outdoor patio and courtyard for wine talks and warm, relaxing evenings. A continental breakfast is included with your stay, which, along with the serene sunsets, is a pretty nice touch, no?

Location perks? No pool sadly but, then again the Pacific Ocean is right on your doorstep along with some great hiking trails. 

Budget range? A great choice for three cozy days well under $1000.

Time Out tip: Come hang out at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art to check out their diverse collection including Latin American artworks. 


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

Mood? Old school Cali.

Location perks? Nestled in State Street and super close to West Beach. Dreamy.

Budget range? Pricey as heck.

Time Out tip: Need an iPad stat? The Californian's got you! They have a whole library full of tech gadgets (think tablets, laptops, cameras…) available for loan.

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