8 Unique Santa Barbara Hotels

With blissful beaches, gorgeous architecture, and the famously scenic San Ynez mountains as a backdrop, Santa Barbara is a place like no other. Why not make your visit extra memorable by staying somewhere that’s just as unique as The American Riviera® itself? Start planning your getaway with this list of eight Santa Barbara hotels that are anything but ordinary.

The Waterman

If you like to be in the center of the action, look no further than The Waterman in Santa Barbara’s burgeoning Funk Zone district. The Waterman combines the style and perks of a boutique hotel with the affordability and social vibe of a hostel—earning it the apt moniker “poshtel.” Choose from traditional private rooms or shared dorm-style rooms, all of which are outfitted with industrial-cool décor, premium bedding and free Wi-Fi. You can also take advantage of the daily complimentary breakfast, large community kitchen, on-site games and the Instagram-worthy pool. And thanks to The Waterman’s prime location just off State Street, you’ll be steps away from fantastic dining, shopping, wine-tasting and the seaside scene of East Beach and Stearns Wharf. Learn More

El Capitan Canyon

Luxury meets the great outdoors at the enchanting El Capitan Canyon resort, hidden in the coastal hills just 15 minutes from downtown Santa Barbara. This amazing glamping (think glamorous camping) experience allows you to connect with nature without having to rough it. Secluded among the resort’s ancient sycamore groves are an assortment of deluxe cabins, all equipped with creature comforts like a full bath, central heat, down comforters and more. If you want a more traditional camping ambience, the gorgeous safari tents provide a semi-al fresco feel. Or, opt for the Adventure Yurt, a cozy canvas structure topped with a skylight that allows you to stargaze from your own bed. Most enticing is El Capitan Canyon’s proximity to the beach, where you can walk, bike, kayak, surf, whale-watch or just take in the truly serene surroundings. Learn More

Image via Instagram @elcapitancanyon

Circle Bar B

Get a taste of the California country lifestyle at the Circle Bar B Guest Ranch. Tucked in the nearby hills of Refugio Canyon, this 1,100-acre treasure offers a variety of well-appointed accommodations, including ranch rooms, private cabins and cottages. You’ll have access to the ranch’s many amenities and activities during your stay, including the chance to explore Santa Barbara’s natural landscape on horseback. Whether you’re an experienced rider or it’s your first time in the saddle, the expert cowboys will ensure you have an unforgettable experience as you meander along mountain trails and marvel at ocean views. Afterward, take a dip in the pool or just curl up by the fireplace with a glass of wine. Circle Bar B provides the ideal combination of excitement and relaxation for your adventure. Learn More

Image via Instagram @circlebarbranch

Cheshire Cat Inn

It’s no coincidence that the word “storybook” comes to mind when you see the Cheshire Cat Inn—this adorable bed and breakfast takes inspiration from Alice in Wonderland and the County of Cheshire in England. Located just a few blocks from downtown Santa Barbara, the inn consists of two Victorian Queen Ann houses and Craftsman cottages surrounded by flower-filled English gardens. All of the rooms are exquisitely decorated with antique furniture, whimsical paisley patterns and thoughtful touches like stained glass windows and fresh flowers; many are even themed around characters from the classic tale, including Alice’s Balcony Room and the Tweedledum Suite. Each morning you’ll enjoy a delicious homemade breakfast buffet, and after a long day of sightseeing, you can relax at the inn’s nightly social hour and nosh on tasty hors d’oeuvres and local wine. Learn More

Image via Instagram @sally.zimmerman

The Leta Hotel

Design aficionados will love the colorful, surf-chic atmosphere of The Leta Hotel in Santa Barbara’s neighboring city of Goleta. This boutique hotel’s rooms feature an eclectic mix of textures and textiles, accented by dashes of nostalgia like mid-mod furnishings. The convenient location makes it easy to take a day trip to wine country or borrow a beach cruiser to pedal over to Goleta Beach. More than just a place to rest your head, The Leta Hotel prides itself on creating community, hosting fireside s’mores, yoga classes by the pool, trivia nights and live concerts by up-and-coming bands. You’ll also want to hit up the on-site Leta Restaurant and The Good Bar for fresh SoCal cuisine and innovative cocktails. Learn More

Image via Instagram @theletahotel

Secret Garden Inn and Cottages

Just a short distance from Santa Barbara’s most popular sights, the tranquility of the Secret Garden Inn and Cottages feels a world away. This magical retreat was originally built for a large family in 1905, and includes a main guest house and a variety of freestanding cottages hidden among high hedges and lush gardens. Each comfy room and cottage has its own appeal; some boast in-room fireplaces and private hot tubs. Complimentary breakfast is cooked every morning in the main building, luring you out of bed for coffee and just-out-of-the-oven baked treats on the terrace beneath the persimmon trees. The Secret Garden is a picture-perfect hideaway for a romantic couple’s weekend or girls’ trip—plus your canine pals don’t have to miss the fun, as several of the cottages are dog-friendly. Learn More

Image by Danielle Methmann

Riviera Beach House

Embark on an artistic adventure when you stay at Riviera Beach House on State Street. Along with its sophisticated blend of modern design and historic elegance, you can also browse the hotel’s collection of exhibition catalogues and publications by local luminaries in the Art Library and attend artist talks and openings. The artful theme continues to the hotel’s chic micro-guest rooms that make the most of limited space with clever design touches and vibrant décor. Riviera Beach House’s location is another perk: It’s within a short stroll to the Amtrak train station, the beach and the Funk Zone, with public bus and trolley stops at the front door, making it an excellent car-free lodging choice. Learn More

Simpson House Inn

Escape from the outside world at the lavish Simpson House Inn, nestled into one of Santa Barbara’s most beautiful historic neighborhoods. The stunning Victorian estate sits on an acre of verdant and impeccably-groomed English gardens, and includes a restored 1874 Manor House, Carriage House and lovely cottages. You’ll have your pick of 15 unique rooms, all elegantly furnished and decorated with the Inn’s historical legacy in mind. Despite its supremely peaceful and private feeling, Simpson House Inn is only a five-minute walk from the boutiques, art galleries, museums, wineries and restaurants of downtown Santa Barbara. Your stay includes a wealth of complimentary amenities: gourmet breakfast prepared in-house daily, wine and hors d’oeuvres each night, loaner bicycles, beach equipment, board games and more. Learn More

Image via Instagram @simpsonhouseinn