The 10 Best Hotels in Santa Barbara of 2024 – Travel + Leisure

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Santa Barbara, California has long been a haven for those looking for a respite from the real world. The town, tucked between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains, is an idyllic destination that’s more than earned its nickname as the “American Riviera.”

The hotels here have long made their way to the top of Travel + Leisure’s yearly World’s Best Awards list, voted on by you, our readers, and many of its new openings have made appearances on our editor-led It List, too. Time and time again, Santa Barbara has proven to be an unparalleled vacation destination.

When you’re ready to explore the adorable shops and delicious restaurants in the downtown area, sit by the beach, explore the mountains, or sip tasty local wines, here are 10 of the best hotels in Santa Barbara to book for your next getaway.

San Ysidro Ranch


What We Like

What to Consider

San Ysidro Ranch is a perennial favorite for T+L readers, who consistently vote it among the best resorts in California and the United States in our annual World’s Best Awards. The resort is a true haven for travelers seeking the utmost in privacy and pampering. Here, visitors arrive through the tree-lined drive and are met with lush gardens, including olive trees that are hundreds of years old. All its individual cottages offer a home-away-from-home feeling, with private patios, fire places, and four-poster beds to give just the right touch of romance.

The Details:

  • Neighborhood: Montecito
  • Nearby Attractions: Downtown Santa Barbara, Lotusland, and Montecito Village are all within a short drive.
  • Distance From Airport: 15 miles from the Santa Barbara Airport
  • Accessibility: Fully accessible
  • Parking: Complimentary self and valet parking
  • Pet Policy: Pets allowed with an additional fee
  • Rates: Starting at $2,495 per night

“San Ysidro Ranch [offers] a seemingly limitless slate of amenities. The cottages are the ultimate luxury experience that offer utmost privacy. Dining at Stonehouse was made memorable by the tableside smoked cocktails and decadent dishes of seafood and top-tier steaks followed by after dinner drinks at the newly opened speakeasy. While the spa is quaint for a resort of this size, the couples packages are worth it for the added romance. There’s a reason why this historic property is so special for new and returning guests alike.”

– Mariah Tyler, Associate Visual Director

Palisociety


What We Like

What to Consider

Located in the heart of Santa Barbara, Palihouse offers a unique blend of historical charm and modern luxury, which is exactly why it earned a place on T+L’s It List in 2022. There are just 24 rooms and suites here, ensuring personalized service from its attentive staff. Every room is decked out in individual decor, including colorful walls and tapestries and vibrant fabrics in mismatched patterns that all somehow go together. Lounge by the private pool or step right outside to explore the best of the historic Presidio neighborhood.

The Details:

  • Neighborhood: Downtown Santa Barbara
  • Nearby Attractions: Santa Barbara Museum of Art, State Street shopping within walking distance
  • Distance From Airport: 10 miles from the Santa Barbara Airport
  • Accessibility: Accessible guest rooms available
  • Parking: Underground parking available
  • Pet Policy: Pet-friendly with an additional fee
  • Rates: Starting at $350 per night

Hotel Californian


What We Like

What to Consider

Hotel Californian is so utterly cool, it can make every guest cool just by association. The hotel, located near Santa Barbara’s train station, was designed by Martyn Lawrence Bullard, who created a bright and airy atmosphere, including a Moroccan-inspired lobby with stunning tile work, which is mirrored throughout the hotel’s luxurious rooms. But, the star here is the hotel’s rooftop pool, which gives guests an ideal spot to relax in solitude while looking out onto the Pacific Ocean.

The Details:

  • Neighborhood: Waterfront
  • Nearby Attractions: Santa Barbara Beach, Funk Zone art district within walking distance
  • Distance From Airport: 10 miles from the Santa Barbara Airport
  • Accessibility: Fully accessible
  • Parking: Valet parking available for $48
  • Pet Policy: Pets welcome with an additional fee
  • Rates: Starting at $657 per night

Feinblatt


What We Like

What to Consider

Drift Santa Barbara opened its doors in 2023, bringing with it a breath of fresh air to the downtown neighborhood. Here, guests can expect sleek rooms and common spaces with neutral-toned everything. Here, things are simple and elegant. Grab a morning coffee at its cafe, Dawn, and at the end of the day, get a craft cocktail and a snack at its eatery, Dusk. Then, make time to enjoy the shops and restaurants downtown, just a few steps away, or make your way to West Beach, which sits less than a mile away.

The Details:

  • Neighborhood: Downtown
  • Nearby Attractions: Santa Barbara Historical Museum, Presidio State Historic Park both within walking distance
  • Distance From Airport: 10 miles from the Santa Barbara Airport
  • Accessibility: Fully accessible rooms
  • Parking: Self-parking available for a small fee
  • Pet Policy: Pets not allowed
  • Rates: Starting at $239 per night

Marriott


What We Like

What to Consider

The Ritz-Carlton Bacara is where you want to be for a totally relaxing vacation along the Santa Barbara coastline. Yes, it’s a touch removed from the downtown area (about a 20-minute drive) but that only adds to its sense of serenity. Here guests can roam its 78 private acres that overlook the sea, get a spa treatment (or two) at its 42,000-square-foot spa, or sip your favorite varietal at its new Bacara Wine Tasting Room. You really can spend your entire vacation here, happily never leaving the property, thanks to its hikes, sound baths, expansive pool, and access to the Sandpiper Golf Club.

The Details:

  • Neighborhood: Goleta
  • Nearby Attractions: Sandpiper Golf Club is steps away and Goleta Butterfly Grove is within a short drive
  • Distance From Airport: 6 miles from the Santa Barbara Airport
  • Accessibility: Fully accessible
  • Parking: Valet parking available for an additional charge
  • Pet Policy: Pet-friendly with conditions and fees
  • Rates: Starting at $740 per night

Rosewood Miramar Beach


What We Like

What to Consider

Rosewood Miramar Beach offers an unparalleled luxury experience, boasting direct beach access, top-notch dining options, and elegantly designed rooms that cater to those seeking exclusivity and relaxation. With six bars and restaurants on property featuring locally-sourced ingredients, you may never need to leave the hotel’s Montecito location. For guests looking for ultimate relaxation, book a treatment at Sense, A Rosewood Spa, which is the only Forbes Five-Star spa in Santa Barbara.

The Details:

  • Neighborhood: Montecito
  • Nearby Attractions: Miramar Beach is just steps away and Montecito Country Mart is within a short drive
  • Distance From Airport: 13 miles from Santa Barbara Airport
  • Accessibility: Accessible rooms and common spaces
  • Parking: Valet parking is mandatory
  • Pet Policy: Pets welcome with an additional fee
  • Rates: Starting at $740 per night

Kimpton Canary


What We Like

What to Consider

The Kimpton Canary is a warm and inviting spot right from the get go. Its Spanish Colonial-inspired decor brings in those warm neutral tones the area is known and loved for, along with four-poster beds with bright white bedding in each room for an air of sophistication. The hotel’s rooftop pool is particularly loved by guests as it comes lined with plush chaise loungers that overlook the city below. It’s a fantastic spot to snap a few Instagram-worthy photos, especially at sunset.

The Details:

  • Neighborhood: Downtown
  • Nearby Attractions: Historic Theatre District, Santa Barbara Courthouse within walking distance
  • Distance From Airport: 9 miles from the Santa Barbara Airport
  • Accessibility: Accessible rooms and facilities available
  • Parking: Self and valet parking available with an additional fee
  • Pet Policy: Pets welcome with an additional fee
  • Rates: Starting at $304 per night

Belmond El Encanto


What We Like

What to Consider

Find yourself perched atop Santa Barbara’s Riviera with a stay at Belmond El Encanto. The serene retreat is just a quick drive outside the main downtown area, but feels a whole world away thanks to its private seven acres. Here, guests can expect signature suites that feel more like your own private abode thanks to plentiful indoor and outdoor living spaces, which also come with sublime perks like laundry services and a dedicated host to cater to your every need.

The Details:

  • Neighborhood: Riviera
  • Nearby Attractions: Mission Santa Barbara within walking distance and the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden within a short drive
  • Distance From Airport: 9.5 miles from the Santa Barbara Airport
  • Accessibility: Accessible rooms available
  • Parking: Only valet parking available
  • Pet Policy: Pets are welcome with an additional fee
  • Rates: Starting at $1,051 per night

Santa Barbara Inn


What We Like

What to Consider

Find a little slice of the Mediterranean in Santa Barbara at The Santa Barbara Inn. Rooms here open up to dazzling ocean views, and its on-site restaurant doesn’t miss a beat, overlooking the sea as well. And with just 70 rooms it feels like a more exclusive experience than some of the other larger hotel offerings in the area. The hotel also has a heated outdoor pool, so even if you travel here during the off season you can always take a comfortable dip.

The Details:

  • Neighborhood: East Beach
  • Nearby Attractions: East Beach and Stearns Wharf are within walking distance, and the Santa Barbara Zoo is just a short drive away.
  • Distance From Airport: 11 miles from the Santa Barbara Airport
  • Accessibility: Fully accessible rooms available
  • Parking: Valet parking available (with electric charging stations, too)
  • Pet Policy: Pets are not allowed
  • Rates: Starting at $305 per night

What We Like

What to Consider

The Leta offers something different than all the other high-end hotels across Santa Barbara. It’s distinctly more laid-back than the others, giving off a surfer’s bungalow vibe. Rooms and common spaces include plenty of colorful textiles, while its outdoor area has a charming pool and picnic area, including an outdoor fire pit where guests can gather over s’mores each night.

The Details:

  • Neighborhood: Goleta
  • Nearby Attractions: Goleta Beach and the University of California within a short drive
  • Distance From Airport: 2 miles from the Santa Barbara Airport
  • Accessibility: Fully accessible rooms
  • Parking: Free on-site parking
  • Pet Policy: Pets allowed at no extra charge
  • Rates: Starting at $202 per night

Know Before You Go

If traveling during peak season, be sure to book in advance

Santa Barbara is a popular place all year long, but the tourism numbers swell during the summer months. Travelers who want to come during the peak season should ensure they make all their reservations for their hotel, restaurants, and activities well in advance to secure a spot.

Consider renting a car

While many sights, restaurants, beaches, and shops are accessible by walking or biking in the downtown area, renting a car could be prudent, especially if you choose one of the hotels a bit outside the center of the city. Plus, this way, you can visit the hiking trails or wineries punctuating the Santa Ynez Mountains nearby.

Check the calendar

Santa Barbara hosts several festivals and must-see events throughout the year, including the famed Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Before your trip, make sure to check the local calendar so you can either snag tickets to the event, or avoid it if you prefer to skip the crowds.

Bring your pooch

Santa Barbara is a welcoming community to all — including your four-legged friends. If you can easily travel with your dog, know that they will be welcome at most hotels, along with the area’s parks, beaches, several restaurants, and even some wine tasting rooms (that will happily serve them a tipple of ice cold water). Learn more about where you can bring your dog throughout Santa Barbara here.

How We Chose These Hotels

Several of the hotels chosen for this story have earned a spot on the T+L World’s Best Awards list. Several are also personal favorites of our editors. Writer Stacey Leasca also chose additional hotels based on personal visits to Santa Barbara, including for her T+L series, Well Spent, as well as research of top-ranked spots. Stacey has visited Santa Barbara many times during her decade of living in Southern California, staying in and touring various hotels and spending evenings watching the sunset over the Pacific. She also consulted family and friends who frequent the region for their input. And finally, as with all our hotel roundups, editors ensure all hotel recommendations we make align with our core T+L Hotel Values.

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