5 Most Luxurious Hotels in Santa Barbara

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Inspirations

5 Most Luxurious Hotels in Santa Barbara

By Hana-Lee Sedgwick February 1, 2024

Though it has picturesque scenery, ocean views, and plenty of sunshine all year long, Santa Barbara is much more than just another coastal beach town. This Southern California gem boasts historic charm, impressive sights, and a booming food and wine scene that all make it stand out as an idyllic vacation destination.

While each of Santa Barbara’s luxury hotels and resorts offers a slightly different high-end experience, don’t expect a stay to feel stuffy. Santa Barbara’s laid-back vibe extends to all of these top Santa Barbara hotels, where luxury, sophistication, and “California cool” sensibilities combine for the ultimate coastal getaway.

Beachfront Luxury

Rosewood Miramar Beach
Photo Courtesy of Rosewood Miramar Beach

Rosewood Miramar Beach

1759 S. Jameson Lane, Montecito, CA 93108, (805) 900-8388

Occupying a premiere beachfront property in Montecito, Rosewood Miramar Beach is a beautiful coastal getaway that shines with Gatsby-esque glamour and an upscale, yet relaxed vibe. Here, it’s easy to feel like you’re on vacation, whether lounging beside one of the two pools, playing bocce with cocktail in hand, or enjoying locally-made ice cream with your feet in the sand. In true resort fashion, Rosewood Miramar Beach offers several restaurants and bars (two with pristine ocean views), a spa, fitness center, complimentary Wi-Fi, 24-hour in-room dining, concierge services, and a sundries shop with hats, sunblock, and a selection of Goop specialty products. It’s also the only place in the area where you can sleep directly above the sand, where 26 beachfront rooms come with private balconies and light and airy décor, offering the ultimate in seaside living.

Rosewood Miramar Beach
Photo Courtesy of Rosewood Miramar Beach

Insider Tip:
While dining at the Resort’s signature restaurant, the One Michelin Star Caruso’s, is a special treat, if you happen to miss out on a reservation, don’t fret. You can enjoy nearly the same unobstructed ocean views from the Beach Bar, located above the restaurant. Of course, you won’t get the exclusive fine dining experience, but it’s a good alternative.

A Five-Star Retreat

Belmond El Encanto
Photo Courtesy of Belmond El Encanto

El Encanto, A Belmond Hotel

800 Alvarado Place, Santa Barbara, CA 93103, (805) 845-5800

Luxury is in full force at the beautiful El Encanto, situated on Santa Barbara’s Riviera. A stay at this five-star retreat doesn’t disappoint, thanks to its timeless California glamour, peaceful setting, posh amenities, and sweeping views of the city below. While only minutes from downtown Santa Barbara, the secluded location of the hotel promotes an overall feeling of relaxation and ease. You’ll love spending your days getting pampered at the spa, lounging beside the pool, noshing on locally-sourced food, and admiring the lush landscaping. When it comes time for dinner, don’t miss dining under the stars from the restaurant’s outdoor terrace—just be sure to make your reservation early enough to watch the sun go down over the city.

Belmond El Encanto
Photo Courtesy of Belmond El Encanto

Insider Tip:
Opt for one of the bungalow suites, where you’ll adore ending each evening with a glass of wine beside your own in-room fireplace.

A Secluded Getaway

The Ritz-Carlton Bacara
Photo Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Bacara

The Ritz-Carlton Bacara

8301 Hollister Avenue, Santa Barbara, CA 93117, (805) 968-0100

Located on 78 acres along a secluded stretch of coastline in Goleta, The Ritz-Carlton Bacara delights with its oceanfront setting, picturesque pools, indulgent spa, multiple restaurants, and Mediterranean charm. Rooms and suites include fine linens, large soaking tubs, and private patios or balconies (some offering a glimpse of the Pacific), while amenities are designed to ensure a stay feels special. Upgrade your room to include access to the Ritz-Carlton Club® Lounge, and you’ll get to enjoy an indoor/outdoor communal space in which to eat and relax alongside fellow travelers. Here, you can nosh on culinary treats, sip an espresso or mimosa, sample wine from the one-touch wine dispenser, and make use of the concierge services—all of which are complimentary. Even if you don’t spring for The Ritz-Carlton Club® Lounge, you’ll want to pay a visit to the spa for luxurious skincare and body treatments, where eucalyptus steam rooms, saunas, and a roof sun deck make it easy to unwind.

The Ritz-Carlton Bacara
Photo Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Bacara

Insider Tip:
Traveling with the whole family? The resort offers a Kid’s Movie Night for a $75 per child fee, complete with dinner, popcorn, and sweets for the kiddos, so you can enjoy a three-hour childless evening as a couple.

Rustic Sophistication

San Ysidro Ranch
Photo Courtesy of San Ysidro Ranch

San Ysidro Ranch

900 San Ysidro Lane, Montecito, CA 93108, (800) 368-6788

Don’t be fooled by the rustic nature of this Montecito retreat— San Ysidro Ranch is very much a luxury hotel, which is why it’s been a go-to destination for sophisticated travelers for over a century (and why so many celebrities have married and honeymooned here). There are 38 private cottages on the hillside of The Ranch, where plush, king-sized beds, fireplaces, heated bathroom floors, and creekside patios add to the allure of a stay. Some of the rooms even come with private hot tubs and outdoor showers. While you may be inclined to stay in your room all day, if you do choose to leave your quiet abode, a year-round heated swimming pool and a speakeasy-style bar aren’t far away, nor is a hike in the hills behind the hotel.

San Ysidro Ranch
Photo Courtesy of San Ysidro Ranch

Insider Tip:
San Ysidro Ranch’s on-site restaurant, The Stonehouse, is a must visit when staying on property. Here, enjoy meticulously presented seasonal food in a formal, yet dreamy atmosphere, with an impressive wine list to match. You can request a tour of the wine cellar, but to really immerse yourself in a wine-fueled setting, book an intimate dinner in the Secret Cellar. Tucked beneath the Stonehouse, this private group room, located next to the iconic wine cellar, is a beautiful place for a special occasion with friends or loved ones.

Waterfront Glam

Hotel Californian
Lobby, Photo Courtesy of Hotel Californian

Hotel Californian

36 State Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, (805) 882-0100

The 121-room Hotel Californian is conveniently located in downtown Santa Barbara’s Waterfront neighborhood, across the street from Stearns Wharf and white sand beaches. This stylish hotel is designed in a Spanish Colonial Revival style with Moroccan influences, showcasing over one million tiles, many hand painted in Morocco. The guest rooms and suites, which are named after the royal Moorish cities of Medieval Spain, feature custom furnishings and marble bathrooms, some with Juliet balconies or private verandas looking out at the city or ocean. While a benefit of staying at the Hotel Californian is its close proximity to all the action, the Turkish-inspired spa, on-site restaurants, and rooftop pool showcasing panoramic views make it stand out as its own worthy destination.

Hotel Californian
Hotel Californian Bar, Photo Courtesy of Hotel Californian

Insider Tip:
Those looking to indulge with an alcoholic beverage or two will enjoy staying at the Hotel Californian, which is located within steps to over two dozen wine tasting rooms and breweries in the happening Funk Zone neighborhood. No driving or Uber-ing is necessary.

Honorable Mentions

Palihouse
Palihouse

Drawing on the contemporary sophistication of other Palihouse properties, this intimate hotel makes for an inviting retreat in downtown SB. Each of the 24 rooms is thoughtfully appointed with luxury details to make a stay feel extra cozy, while a tranquil courtyard is the ideal spot for a moment of relaxation—coffee, or cocktail, in hand.

Kimpton Canary
Kimpton Canary

Situated right in the heart of downtown, close to many shops and restaurants, Kimpton Canary stands out with its Spanish architecture and elegant interiors. Here, rooms combine comfort with a contemporary design, while an on-site restaurant and a rooftop pool (hello, breathtaking city views!) add to the experience.

Drift Hotel
Drift Hotel

The Drift Hotel encapsulates a minimalist, organic aesthetic that is unlike other accommodations in Santa Barbara. With amenities such as a coffee shop and mezcal bar, as well as surfboards and yoga mats available to rent, this new boutique hotel, located right on State Street, is a sleek spot for those desiring a simple, yet stylish experience.

Conclusion

Santa Barbara’s top hotels offer something for every traveler, blending luxury, comfort, and unique local charm. Whether you’re seeking a beachfront escape, a secluded retreat, or a vibrant downtown experience, these Santa Barbara hotels and resorts ensure a memorable visit. Enjoy!