Time for bed, sleepyhead! Santa Barbara's 10 best hotels

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 sleep 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 Rosewood Miramar Beach, situated along a stunning stretch of sand.
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!


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, nice 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 →

Located just blocks away from downtown Santa Barbara and at the edge of the the Funk Zone, the Riviera Beach House offers modern accommodations for visitors and their animal amigos. Smaller, European-style rooms are decorated in a clean and colorful style. Many have quiet, unfussy patios. There are a lot of nice restaurants and wine tasting rooms within easy walking distance, but you should know that there is also an incredible restaurant onsite. Do not miss Santo Mezcal for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner! The beach and Stearns Wharf are only two blocks away. Valet parking is available. Worth noting that this hotel is, for better or worse, quite close to the train station.

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 Riviera Beach House →

For the ultimate weekend (or week) of wining and dining in Santa Barbara, book your stay at the iconic Hotel Californian. Located steps from the beach and just a block or two from many of the best wine tasting rooms and restaurants in the area, this luxury hotel is a great choice for people who want to do it all, no car necessary! A rooftop pool with a view of the ocean, onsite Turkish-inspired spa and two restaurants add to the appeal. Beautiful tile work and lighting throughout make this one of Santa Barbara's most photogenic hotels. If you stay at the Californian, your vacation snaps are practically guaranteed to make everyone jealous.

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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Calling all history buffs! Built in 1871, The Upham Hotel & Country House is the oldest continuously operating hotel in Southern California. It's 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 middle of downtown Santa Barbara? This is it. Check out the view from the rooftop pool!

Read more about Kimpton Canary Hotel →

Palihouse Santa Barbara
Photo courtesy of Palisociety

Snuggle up in peace at this hidden gem. Los Angeles-based Palisociety has added to its west coast footprint with the debut of Palihouse Santa Barbara. Now open in the city's Historic Presidio neighborhood, this 24-room residential-style boutique hotel was formerly the site of The Santa Barbara School of the Arts. The Spanish Colonial-inspired property is a hideaway in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara. Visitors can look forward to in-room cozy fireplaces, deep bathtubs, a quiet pool area with an intimate vibe and a jewel-box bar for evening cocktails. Everything wonderful is just a short walk away, from pastries and boutiques to museums and theaters.

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

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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. Each of their 354 guest rooms has an ocean, garden or mountain view, and many have private fireplaces. You can visit their world-class spa for a rejuvenating treatment or take a trip to the sauna. Then we recommended settling into one of their saline pools before a rejuvenating walk on the beach. The Bacara is 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 →

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 destination - among both celebrities and us regular folk - for over a century. Did you know that John F. Kennedy and Jackie honeymooned here? 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 venture in for a bite on special occasions.

Recommended for Best Hotels because: For a memorable 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. The team at the El Encanto will even curate a truly local experience for you, ranging from an afternoon sail to an extensive four-day itinerary. There's 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 a legendary hotel that locals like to visit and travelers are lucky to find.

Read more about Belmond El Encanto →

Rosewood Miramar Beach
Photo courtesy of Rosewood Miramar Beach

What's chic, gorgeous and rosy all over? The Rosewood Miramar Beach, a deluxe beachfront resort in Montecito, just minutes south of Santa Barbara. If you want a destination that's guaranteed to impress, well, just about anyone, this is it. Enjoy posh accommodations, stroll along the white sand and catch a ride on their signature pink golf cart. Complimentary chairs and umbrellas, a beach butler and sports equipment are at your service. Beach house and bungalow suites will make your getaway that much more memorable. Don't feel like leaving the grounds? You don't have to! The resort has multiple restaurants on the property, including Caruso's, a Michelin-recognized restaurant where you can watch the sun set over the Pacific from your table.

Recommended for Best Hotels because: Bunk with the stars! This luxe resort is a celeb favorite. (You may recognize it from photos of Travis and Kourtney's engagement.)

Read more about Rosewood Miramar Beach →


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