If you’re looking to live the luxe life in Santa Barbara, it all starts with the hotel you choose to call “home.” There are many benefits to booking a luxury hotel that can cater to your every need and whim—so much so that you might never want to leave the grounds. Think signature restaurants serving three meals a day, cocktail bars stocked with local libations, gourmet room service on-demand, pampering spa services, onsite wellness activities and many more amenities to enhance your stay. Santa Barbara’s diverse collection of ultra-luxurious hideaways present a spectrum of price points and environments. These 6 luxury accommodations have mastered the art of hospitality and are always ready to roll out the red carpet to make you feel like a VIP.
Perched in the hills overlooking downtown Santa Barbara with sweeping ocean and city views, the Belmond El Encanto has been welcoming discerning travelers to The American Riviera® since 1918. Renovations and upgrades to the historic landmark property over the years resulted in a mix of Craftsman and Spanish Colonial architecture. From the moment you pull into the circular drive and are greeted by the attentive valets and bellhops, the guest experience feels seamless—and everyone seems to know your name. Given the historic footprint, the 92 bungalows and suites are all incredibly spacious. The massive marble bathrooms are a thing of beauty, while thoughtful touches like monogrammed accent pillows and personalized stationary make you truly feel at home. Perks of the property include the stunning zero-edge pool, a restaurant and bar (so lovely, they are frequented by locals), a full-service spa, courtesy shuttle and fitness center.
Another longtime favorite getaway for the rich and famous is the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara—the region’s only AAA Five Diamond Resort. Butterfly Beach sits across the street from the lush, 22-acre Montecito property, which also boasts the neighboring Coral Casino Beach & Cabana Club and its Tydes restaurant as exclusive guest amenities. Warm, intuitive service is a hallmark of The Biltmore’s hospitality, whether you’re checking in, scoring a coveted restaurant reservation through the concierge or ordering cocktails poolside. The resort’s 207 rooms come in three tiers: standard guest rooms, suites and bungalows. The palatial 2,000-square foot Ty Warner Bungalow with its own private plunge pool is the biggest splurge of them all. No matter what room you book, guests have access to two outdoor pools, tennis courts, bike rentals, a state-of-the-art fitness center, Jose Eber hair salon, an award-winning spa, two restaurants, a lounge and the seasonal Kids for all Seasons program.
The glamorous 121-room Hotel Californian is a new addition to Santa Barbara’s hotel line-up, and it’s located in the heart of the action where Lower State Street, the waterfront and Funk Zone converge. Taking a nod from the original 1925 structure destroyed in an earthquake, the architecture is Spanish Colonial Revival through-and-through. The interiors created by celebrity designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard are Moorish-inspired with Moroccan accents. Plush rooms feature striking black and white photography of old Hollywood stars, custom furnishings and premium cocktail carts that are a far cry from a typical hotel “mini-bar.” The stylish property boasts a rooftop pool, a Turkish-inspired spa, upscale clothing boutique, two destination restaurants and a cocktail bar. Part of the Preferred Hotels & Resorts group, Hotel Californian has already earned spots on Travel+Leisure’s “It List” and Conde Nast Traveler’s “Hot List.”
Rosewood Miramar Beach Montecito is the one-and-only Santa Barbara South Coast hotel that sits right on the sand. It’s also the first hotel project by Los Angeles developer Rick Caruso, known for premier shopping destinations like The Grove and Palisades Village. The idyllic Miramar Beach property has been a work in progress for decades, and will add 124 guest rooms and 37 suites to the region’s ultra-luxury lodging inventory when it debuts. Onsite dining will include The Manor House and Beach House restaurants, plus an ice cream shop and bars. Guests will be able to choose from two pools and indulge in pampering treatments at Sense®Spa. An indoor-outdoor fitness studio will offer yoga and group fitness classes, along with the typical gym accoutrements.
The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara is a grand, self-contained oasis north of the city. The tranquil, 78-acre waterfront property is perched on bluffs overlooking the beach with an easy path to reach the sand and surf below. Of the 358 Mediterranean-style guest rooms, options range from ample “standard” rooms and luxury suites to standalone villas and the ultimate penthouse residence. The Spa is the largest of its kind in the region, providing 42,000 square feet of bliss featuring treatment rooms, an adults-only pool, redwood saunas, eucalyptus steam rooms, fireside lounges and a salon. The two main zero-edge guest pools are the centerpiece of the property and private cabanas are available for rent. The Ritz-Carlton takes its food and beverage program very seriously, with five restaurants and a 12,000-bottle wine collection. The activity menu is equally robust—tennis, Sandpiper Golf Club next door and adventures like horseback riding, biking, kayaking and paddle boarding.
The storied San Ysidro Ranch has often been ranked among the world’s best hotels, earning the number one spot on Forbes Traveler’s “Best Hotels in America” list several years running. It’s where JFK and Jackie O honeymooned and where Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh exchanged wedding vows—to name just a few of its impressive “credits.” Privacy is paramount at the beloved hideaway in the foothills of Montecito. Each of the 41 individually-decorated bungalows and cottages feature hot tubs and fireplaces. Guests can visit the spa or enjoy treatments in the privacy of their rooms. Two stellar dining options include the formal Stonehouse and its relaxed counterpart, Plow & Angel. The peaceful resort has a heated pool, fitness center and is in close proximity to 17 miles of hiking trails. Guided hikes and yoga instruction are among the bespoke fitness services available to guests.
Plan This Itinerary
Belmond El Encanto
Located in the American Riviera, Belmond El Encanto is Santa Barbara’s only Forbes Five-Star resort. This iconic early 20th-century property is situated atop a commanding hillside, offering ninety-two quintessential, California-styled…
Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara
Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara is a gracious oceanfront resort located atop pristine Butterfly Beach. Four Seasons marries legendary service with the glory of historic California – a luminous Spanish Colonial treasure with red…
Rosewood Miramar Beach
Rosewood Miramar Beach Montecito is the only five-star resort on the beach in Southern California, situated less than an hour north of Los Angeles in Santa Barbara’s affluent Montecito community. The resort sits on the site of the…
The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara
Along the bluffs and beaches of the Gaviota coast lies a resort of stunning natural beauty and relaxed luxury. With 78 acres of oceanfront property, including two miles of natural beach, Bacara offers an expansive sun-drenched setting with endless…
San Ysidro Ranch
Nestled in the Montecito foothills of Southern California’s wine country, San Ysidro Ranch has provided a tranquil vacation destination for discriminating travelers for over a century. Guests are drawn to the Santa Barbara hideaway for its…