Santa Barbara's Best Hotels: Where to Rest Your Sleepy Head

Visit Santa Barbara and we guarantee that you’ll want to stay awhile. The scenic vistas, breathtaking beaches, busy streets and delectable restaurants require much more than one day of exploring.
But with so many hotels, inns and motels dotting the main streets, how can you know which one is the best fit for you? 10Best to the rescue! This list narrows down your best overnight options, so you can slumber soundly knowing that you made the right choice.

If you like to be pampered, try one of Santa Barbara’s luxury hotels - many are in prime locations, like the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara, situated across the street from stunning Butterfly Beach.
If a bed and breakfast is more your style, The Upham is just the place. Right around the corner from busy State Street, it’s the oldest (and, we suspect, coziest) continuously operating hotel in Southern California. And for those on a sightseeing mission, it’s worth noting that Santa Barbara is home to the very first Motel 6 in America. It’s budget and pet friendly and even has a view of the ocean!

So make a reservation, settle in and stay awhile. Your comfortable night - or nights - in this beach town will leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed... and ready for a whole new day full of adventures. Just don’t be surprised if you like your accommodations so much that you find yourself turning in early!


Santa Barbara

The Inn of the Spanish Garden is a luxury boutique hotel just three blocks from busy State Street. Sophisticated Spanish and Mediterranean themes inform the design of this enchanting hotel, making it the perfect place for an exotic escape from daily life. Guest rooms are outfitted with Frette linens, French press coffee makers and fireplaces. Their deluxe continental breakfast - complimentary with your reservation - includes mouthwatering quiches and rich espresso drinks. In-room spa services are available. In the evening, a wine bar offers select local and featured wines by the glass or bottle (and an assortment imported and domestic of beers).

Recommended for Best Hotels because: This intimate boutique hotel is a little a bit hidden behind a garden - right in the center of town! A local gem.

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Maybe you're not the type of person that is typically impressed by a Motel 6. Well, that's fine, but this one, the particular Motel 6, deserves a little extra notice. Why? Because it's actually the original Motel 6, opened in 1962. That's right, the very first one! (Rooms were $6 a night, hence the name.) And, besides that little tidbit, it's truly lovely. There are granite countertops in the bathrooms, LCD TVs in every room and, oh, a little thing we like to call an ocean view. It's pet friendly too. Your best bet for a budget stay at the beach! Walking distance to the Santa Barbara Zoo and shuttle transportation.

Recommended for Best Hotels because: Why not stay in the original Motel 6? Rooms were $6 a night. That's not the case today, but it's still a great deal!

Read more about Motel 6 Santa Barbara - Beach →

Built in 1871, The Upham Hotel & Country House is the oldest continuously operating hotel in Southern California. It's located located just two blocks from downtown - great shops, theaters, parks and restaurants are all within easy walking distance. The main hotel features 58 rooms to suit every size need, from cottage rooms to master suites, all beautifully furnished. The onsite restaurant, Louie's Bistro, celebrates Central Coast flavors in an intimate setting - there's even a three-seat wine bar. Across the street is their Country House, featuring bed and breakfast style accommodations with luxury accents, like waterfall showers and sunny verandas. And, since we're okay with spreading rumors, you should know that George Clooney has been sighted here more than once.

Recommended for Best Hotels because: The Upham is the oldest continuously operating hotel in Southern California. Victorian charm within easy walking distance of town!

Read more about The Upham Hotel & Country House →


The Canary Hotel is a luxury boutique hotel that's truly in the heart of the action. Less than a block off State St. in the middle of Santa Barbara's downtown district, The Canary features five floors of beautiful decor (handpainted tiles! custom wrought iron!), dining and entertaining amenities, and gorgeous rooms. Four poster beds, hardwood floors, plush robes and private balconies are just the beginning. And did we mention the rooftop pool with amazing views? A full-service establishment, the helpful staff at the Canary will help you plan your next trip or event to a tee, whether it involves wine tasting for two or a wedding with 100 guests. Lovely restaurant onsite, as well as valet parking and complimentary bike rentals.

Recommended for Best Hotels because: Looking for a great place to stay in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara? This is it. Check out the view from the rooftop pool!

Read more about Kimpton Canary Hotel →

Kimpton's Santa Barbara boutique hotel is stylish, pet friendly and well situated. Located in Goleta, not far from the Santa Barbara airport and a 10-minute drive from downtown, The Goodland has all the perks of a big hotel, paired with all the charms of a small one. Enjoy evening social events, fitness classes and in-room record players (they even have a Record Concierge on call). Rooms are decorated with a laid-back surf vibe and include high-end amenities like flat screen TVs. The Goodland is extremely pet friendly; as long as your pet fits through the door of your room, he or she can stay for free!

Recommended for Best Hotels because: This hotel is Palm Springs meets the beach. Enjoy a relaxed vibe with sophisticated amenities, including great drinks in the super chic hotel bar!

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Located just blocks away from downtown Santa Barbara and in the heart of the the Funk Zone - Santa Barbara's up and coming arts and wine district - Hotel Indigo offers modern accommodations for aesthetically-minded visitors, their families and their animal amigos. For an additional fee of $35 per visit, you can bring Fluffy or Fido or both! (Limit two pets per guest room.) Smaller, European-style rooms are decorated with works by local artists. Most rooms have quiet, unfussy patios. A lounge area with an art library invites guests to lounge in a communal space. Many great restaurants and wine tasting rooms are within walking distance. There is also a restaurant onsite. The beach and Stearns Wharf are only two blocks away.

Recommended for Best Hotels because: This boutique hotel has a contemporary European vibe and is located just steps away from the fun and trendy Funk Zone.

Read more about Hotel Indigo Santa Barbara →

San Ysidro Ranch
Photo courtesy of San Ysidro Ranch

Considered one of the top hotels in the world, San Ysidro Ranch has been a treasured romantic destination - among both celebrities and us regular folk - for over a century. John F. Kennedy and Jackie honeymooned here. Sir Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh were married in San Ysidro's lush gardens. Situated in the foothills of Montecito, the hotel consists of a combination of suites and cottages perfectly suited to private moments and intimate gatherings. It is both pet and child friendly, even offering a babysitting service for parents that want to squeeze in a date night. Hotel dining includes The Stonehouse and Plow & Angel. Both restaurants serve food so delicious that even the locals will venture out for a bite on special occasions.

Recommended for Best Hotels because: For a truly romantic getaway, book at cottage at the San Ysidro Ranch. Enjoy private, lush grounds and fine dining.

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Book a room at the El Encanto Hotel & Garden Villas to experience one of Santa Barbara's most legendary properties. Perfectly situated in a secluded, quiet part of town, the El Encanto is famous for its legendary views and luxury standards. Long a favorite of the Hollywood crowd, the recently reopened El Encanto treats every guest like a celebrity - right down to outfitting your bed with appropriately monogrammed linens. There is a spa, restaurant and bar onsite. Stroll the lush grounds or stop for a refreshing cocktail, and you'll feel transported above the hustle and bustle of daily life - exactly the goal at the El Encanto.

Recommended for Best Hotels because: Pure luxury. This is legendary hotel that locals like to visit and travelers are lucky to find.

Read more about Belmond El Encanto →

When you're ready to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, look no further than the Bacara Resort and Spa. Located on 78 acres of pristine coastline on Santa Barbara's northern shore, the Bacara offers you a taste of unbridled luxury. For a romantic retreat, book one of their 354 guest rooms; each has an ocean, garden or mountain view and many have private fireplaces. Then visit their world-class spa for a rejuvenating treatment or trip to the sauna. You can take a dip in one of their saline pools or simply walk down to the beach. The Bacara is also the perfect place to host a wedding or event, with reception rooms and outdoor areas to accommodate large parties. Excellent restaurants and a wine tasting room onsite.

Recommended for Best Hotels because: The Bacara is located on a beautiful beach just outside of town, so you can really get away from it all.

Read more about The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara →

If your hotel checklist looks something like this - beachfront, exclusive amenities, possible celebrity sightings, ridiculous levels of hospitality - then the Biltmore is where you want to stay. One of the most beautiful hotels in Santa Barbara, the Biltmore is located just across the street from Butterfly Beach, one of the most pristine white sand beaches in Southern California. There are Spanish tiles and exotic orchids in the entryway, music pumped into speakers in the pool and endlessly delicious food and beverage options (their Sunday brunch is legendary). Access to the exclusive Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club comes with your reservation when you book a Jungle Room category or higher. Pets accepted for an additional fee. Downtown Santa Barbara is just a short drive away, and one of Montecito's main shopping and dining districts is within walking distance.

Recommended for Best Hotels because: Bunk with the stars! This posh resort is a celeb favorite and has deluxe amenities, including guest access to the exclusive Coral Casino.

Read more about Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara →


Meet Geneva Ives

Geneva Ives moved to Santa Barbara in 2000 on a whim (ok, and to go to college) and never looked back. She loves Santa Barbara because it’s really one of America’s greatest small towns - it...  More About Geneva