Santa Barbara Travel Guide
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When you think Santa Barbara hotels, you probably imagine luxurious appointments. And, dollar signs.
The region's top hotels can command rates of several hundred a night at minimum while others, like the Four Seasons, can clock in at the four-digit range. But, that doesn't mean the beachside community is too pricey for those on a budget or those who'd rather indulge in other areas. In fact, some may be surprised to learn the very first Motel 6 was founded here.
If you look beyond the posh, you'll find dollar-saving possibilities in the form of a respectable inns with rates under $100 midweek and around $200 on the weekend. And, yes, Motel 6 remains an option. Among your choices is the family-friendly, and family operated, Franciscan Inn.
Depending on which way you approach the Franciscan, you'll turn into one of its two parking lots. Exclusively for guests (they'll ask you for your license plate number to know who to tow), either lot is accessible to the lobby. Check-in was smooth and effortless on our visit, taking only minutes to complete. The only slight inconvenience was parking in the wrong lot when it came to proximity to our room. A quick 30 second drive out of one lot and into the other quickly solved that problem.
Known for a hotel scene that bears a burden on the budget traveler, Santa Barbara's newest hotel, which is actually a hostel, looks to fill that void. Opened this week in the Funk Zone neighborhood, The Wayfarer is a 31-room hostel that offers both private and shared accommodations.
The opening of the Wayfarer is especially interesting given its location in the Funk Zone. An "artsy" neighborhood filled with murals, a surf museum, wine tasting rooms, breweries, a distillery, and small restaurants, it displayed a touch of grit in its early days that Santa Barbara had always lacked. But as its popularity has grown, so have the price tags on its restaurants and urban wineries.
Last year, our bro Jaunted noted that the local media was concerned that the growing gentrification of the neighborhood would ultimately be what killed it as higher-end concepts and projects, including hotels, looked to capitalize.
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The Canary Hotel will get some company later this summer when Santa Barbara County debuts its second Kimpton property in the form of The Goodland Hotel, set to open in July with 158 rooms and a self-described "Southern California Bohemia meets surf culture design.”
Kimpton’s vibe and localized approach to hotel decor is a good match for Santa Barbara’s laid-back scene, fitting in nicely between the small beachy inns (Hotel Milo) and the bigger, more luxurious hotels (Fess Parker). But one curious thing about the decision is the location of the property, as it will be located outside of downtown Santa Barbara in neighboring Goleta.
Now, there’s nothing “wrong” with Goleta (I used to live there, in fact), but it certainly isn’t a prime location as a tourist looking to experience Santa Barbara. You’re caught nearly ten miles outside the buzz of downtown in a much more residential and strip-mall oriented area, and most of the other hotels nearby are basic, catering to businessmen and parents of university students. Renting a car becomes almost imperative as you won’t be able to walk to any restaurants, bars, or beaches. The website describes the hotel as being "a rollerblade away" from downtown Santa Barbara, but that's unfortunately incredibly deceptive and, to be honest, simply a flat-out lie.
The Biltmore, Bacara, and Davy Crockett's Fess Parker get a lot of the attention when it comes to Santa Barbara's hotel scene and full-service resorts, yet a drive through town, especially in the blocks adjacent to the beach, reveals clusters of boutique hotels and small inns that far outnumber the bigger brands.
One such property is the Hotel Oceana on Cabrillo Boulevard, which sits across the street from the beach and the harbor. Featuring a collection of cozy courtyards outside of rooms and between buildings, we were impressed with its colorful landscaping, the blues, reds, and yellows of the flowers and furniture bold against the backdrop of the green gardens. The rooms and views are just as eye-popping, as you will see in the following photos.
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A few weeks ago, we showed you the before and after pics of the Fess Parker's most recent renovation. The revamp ensured that the hotel will remain one of the city's flagship hotels going forward, at least as far as aesthetics go. We love the new rooms, and one thing that hasn't changed is the beautiful ocean and mountain views they provide.
Next week, we'll poke around town and dish on all the hotel news happening around town, including other hotel renovations as well as offerings you can expect from different properties this summer.
For now, enjoy this wonderful view from the hotel's Gardenia Building, and feel free to daydream about the warm California sun as we transition into spring.
[Photo: Will McGough]
We love hotel renovations nearly just as much as we love new hotels. But what we really love about hotel renovations is seeing the transformation that happens when an old, tired and lackluster room gets a modern makeover and transforms into new, spiffed-up, stylish guest room. Or put more simply, we love comparing the Before and After.
The Fess Parker, a laid-back Doubletree by HIlton resort in Santa Barbara, Calif., has just finished much-needed upgrade to their 360 guest rooms and suites and we're happy to report the renovation managed to keep the resort's chill vibe but in a thoroughly modern way .
This is what the guest rooms used to look like. Um, plaid much? While we do appreciate the modern amenities, like a flat-screen TV and rolling desk chair, the rest of the room is a bit of a turn-off. Fortunately, it's all been changed.
Keep reading to see how much better the rooms look today!
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While "The Bachelor's" current
clown stud, Juan Pablo, is about to jet off to Seoul with his harem of women on the ridiculous reality dating show that you can't not watch, the last Bachelor, Sean Lowe is about to say "I Do" on live television to his scriptedtrue love, Catherine Giudici. Not surprisingly, the wedding will take place at a hotel--Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara
Here's what Catherine said about the planned nuptials:
"The beach is so pretty and the venue is just gorgeous!' said Catherine. 'It will be just the two of us, on the beach. Chilling out and having a great time."
Yes, just the two of you on the beach and MILLIONS OF PEOPLE WATCHING AT HOME.
That said, she is right about the hotel being a gorgeous venue as the hotel has five different, outdoor spots where folks can get married. While Sean and Catherine will get hitched on the beach, the resort also allows for weddings in various gardens and lawns, including the Monte Vista Lawn where the Santa Ynez mountains serve as a backdrop.
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It certainly looks like Orient-Express isn’t letting that whole rejected Tata offer get in the way of its renovation and expansion plans. We’ve barely told you about the disco break the Copacabana Palace in Rio de Janeiro enjoyed to come back in its former glory, and now reservations have started for a March opening of the historic El Encanto Resort in Santa Barbara.
One thing we already love? As part of its dedication to locally sourced produce, El Encanto will have its own cow: Ellie. Ellie’s milk will be used to make a special cheese only found at the hotel. How great is that? And it doesn’t stop there.
Clearly, Kimpton Hotels are on a sort of a management and acquisition roll. After picking up the management of two Thompson Hotels (one in Chicago and one in DC), and putting the RiverPlace hotel into their portfolio, Kimpton has now announced that they have bought the Canary Hotel in Santa Barbara.
Despite the new ownership, nothing much will change. Guestrooms will keep the mix of Spanish and Morrocan decor and free WiFi for Kimpton's InTouch members. The Perch, the hotel's rooftop venue with a pool will still remain and Kimpton will also manage the hotel's Coast Restaurant & Bar. And yes, you can expect Kimpton's famous wine-tasting hour here from 5 to 6pm nightly in the hotel lobby.
Well, this is surprising. When we were compiling our Master List of 2012 Openings, we totally did not see that Hotel Indigo would be opening in Santa Barbara. But lo and behold, an is announcement out today says that our favorite boutique brand is opening in March in the former Hotel State Street.
Opening after a multi-million dollar renovation, Hotel Indigo Santa Barbara combines the historic Santa Barbara splendor with the architectural sophistication of modern design.The forty-one room boutique hotel has thirteen guest rooms featuring private outdoor gardens and fourteen guest rooms with views of the Riviera and mountains or urban scenes dotted by palm trees.
Santa Barbara is getting Hyattized, though too bad not in time to capitalize on the royal couple fever that hit the local hotel scene earlier this month. The 80-year-old Hotel Mar Monte has been transformed into the city's first Hyatt, the Hyatt Santa Barbara.
As part of its new persona, the oceanfront hotel has been getting renovations since February. The hotel has redone 92 of its 171 rooms, lobby, and pool and deck areas.
We thought the Royal Couple craziness would die down once the newlyweds became an old married twosome, but nope, we wrong. Now, hotels in California are looking to cash in on Prince William and Kate's impending trip to the Golden State. In particular, Santa Barbara hotels are downright giddy over the couple's planned visit for a charity polo match and meal. So much so they are celebrating the best way they know how--with a package.
The Santa Barbara Hotel Group is honoring Kate and Wills with their Royal Romance Escape package. (Groan.) You and your king (Double Groan) will get accommodations as well as an upgrade, a bottle of champagne, high tea for two at Andersen's of Santa Barbara and a list of the top 25 places to kiss in SB. (Actually, that one's kinda cute.)