The 7 Best Hotels in Santa Barbara

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With 300 days of sunshine annually, an urban wine trail, incredible restaurants, and gorgeous coastlines, Santa Barbara is the epitome of luxury, and the hotels and resorts embody that sentiment perfectly. From Oprah to Jackie Kennedy, there’s a bit of a “lifestyles of the rich and famous” scene in Santa Barbara, but it’s not all stuffy attitude and frilly behavior; this is California after all, so there’s an ease and natural sensibility for relaxation that indelibly comes into the mix.

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Lodging /

Belmond El Encanto

Luxury is in full force at the newly redesigned Belmond El Encanto. It’s no wonder Forbes gave it five stars—the only such rating in Santa Barbara (Oprah is a fan, too). Here, it’s all about service and those little details, like a monogrammed pillow with your surname initial. Opt for a bungalow suite, which feels like a secluded oasis, where you’ll savor a morning cup of coffee in your own private garden; in the evening, relax with a glass of wine in front of your own fireplace.

Insider Tip

Book a table for dinner at the restaurant on the earlier side, and request to be seated outside on the patio for an incredible view of the Santa Barbara sunset.

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Lodging /

San Ysidro Ranch

Don’t be fooled by the rustic nature of the ranch—San Ysidro is first and foremost a luxury hotel (the fact that this was the setting for John and Jackie Kennedy’s honeymoon should indicate this well enough). Complete with with radiant heated bathroom floors, Rivolta Italian linens, Bulgari toiletries, and outdoor hot tubs, you may not even want to venture out. But when, and if, you do choose to leave your little slice of Heaven, a year-round heated swimming pool isn’t far away, nor is an adventure on some of the 17 miles of hiking trails nearby.

Insider Tip

Opt to dine at one of San Ysidro Ranch’s two amazing restaurants: Stonehouse offers a more formal atmosphere; Plow and Angel’s setting is a bit more casual.

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Lodging /

Spanish Garden Inn

This little boutique hotel possesses a bit of that old California charm, from the palm trees and Spanish Colonial architecture, to the overall personality of the place. Request the Barcelona Suite for ultimate indulgence, and sneak away from the masses to your private elevator and entrance. Once you’ve poked around the suite, take a dip in the deep soaking bathtub, or order a beverage from room service and relax in your frette robe on one of your two private balconies. Just make sure to pencil in some time for a spa appointment—it’s been rated the best in Santa Barbara.

Insider Tip

Make sure to take a daily trip to the reception desk, which stocks fresh, delicious homemade chocolate chip cookies in the afternoon.

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Lodging /

Simpson House Inn

Custom-printed menus, fine linens, and complimentary Kiehl’s products will remind you that this boutique inn is undoubtedly a fine establishment. You might want to consider one of the ultra-secluded cottages like the Abbeywood, which has an elegant whirlpool set into the bay window next to the bed. Dry off in front of the wood-burning fireplace before sitting outside on your private patio for a glass of wine—the same spot where, each morning, you’ll enjoy complimentary breakfast.

Insider Tip

Don’t be afraid to make your requests known—the Simpson House Inn is famous for helping out, and is happy to arrange beach chairs, towels, and a lunch cooler for when you want to have a little fun in the sun.

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Lodging /

Harbor View Inn

For a tropical oasis feel, book a room at the Harbor View Inn, a four-diamond luxury boutique hotel. It’s a little less frilly and a lot less fussy than some of the other luxury hotels, but it still feels decidedly opulent with its terry cloth robes and deep sunken tubs surrounded by dark-marbled bathrooms. With all the sunshine and breathtaking coastline Santa Barbara has to offer, it may be wise to opt for a room with an ocean view for optimal relaxation.

Insider Tip

You don’t have to sign up for a spa treatment to take advantage of a secluded hot-tub in the rear of the spa; just be sure to get there before anyone else.

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Lodging /

The Fess Parker A Doubletree by Hilton Resort

A sprawling resort with breathtaking gardens and impeccable landscaping, the Fess Parker is Hilton’s coast-front answer to absolute luxury, impressing at every step. A warm cookie at check in is just the beginning: cozy suites feature relaxing Jacuzzis and chances to cozy up in front of a fireplace, while outside, an opulent pool provides plenty of sunshine and a personal attendant who will see to your every need.

Insider Tip

If you’re feeling the need for a little nightlife, there is a complimentary shuttle that will take you to downtown Santa Barbara whenever you’d like.

Details

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