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Inside the Hotel Oceana Santa Barbara

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  Site Where: 202 W. Cabrillo Blvd. [map], Santa Barbara, CA, United States, 93101
August 23, 2010 at 12:56 PM | by | Comment (1)

UPDATE: See the comments below for an update on our review.

We stole a few days to head to Santa Barbara for a beachy retreat. Since we enjoy chillaxing at Hotel Oceana Santa Monica, we decided to bunk at its sister property, the on-the-oceanfront Hotel Oceana Santa Barbara.

How did the SB hotel stack up? We'll give you the lowdown on the rooms and more below.

Check-In: We checked in at 5 p.m. and were bummed to find out that our room, which was supposed to be available at 3 p.m., wasn't ready—especially since all of the other guests in line seemed to have no problem checking in. We decided to while away the time checking out the beach across the street.

Room Reaction: The hotel is deceptively large; it's sprawled out across two acres and six buildings. We stayed on the first floor of the main building in room 118. The partial garden-view room was nice and bright—but not so much it gave us a headache. The vibrant random single stripes on the walls and the wood floor made it seem like like a cozy apartment than a hotel room. There also was a separate sitting area with a loveseat, which is where we plunked down to do some work since it was away from the TV. There was no AC in the room, but it kept cool when we opened the windows and put on the fans.

When we took a load off on the bed, we immediately noticed brownish marks on the white comforter. It could have been coffee stains or something much more gross that we didn't want to ponder. But it skeeved us out a little. It's not something we expected at a hotel of this caliber, especially when extra time was spent readying our room.

WiFi Connect: Hallelujah! Free WiFi for everyone! Access is included with your stay. We found the connection a bit slow at times, but otherwise it worked just fine.

Amenities: The smallish lobby isn't big enough to be a hangout, but the grounds offer lots of courtyard spots for lounging, against the backdrop of colorful flowers and a fountain. Though you'll want to head to the lobby to use the complimentary laptop to print out your boarding pass. There's a decent gym (with AC), two outdoor pools and a hot tub with a couple of private cabanas.

Although there isn't an onsite restaurant, the hotel has a bistro overlooking the water that serves a complimentary continental breakfast, including yogurt, cereal, bagels, almond croissants, carrot-nut muffins, java and tea, as well as an omelette station on weekends. The hotel also offers bikes, which are free for the first two hours, as well as helmets, baskets and other gear.

As far as in-room amenities, there's a flat-screen LCD television, an iPod docking station, Aveda toiletries, the requisite overpriced minibar items (though we indulged in a small $6 bottle of white wine), the nightstands carried gardening books and local magazines, and the desk had a picture book of city scenes.

What We Liked: The location is the No. 1 reason to stay at this hotel; you can stumble to the beach. The room's bright, eclectic decor and wood flooring were a welcome change from the usual neutral-colored hotel rooms. As Aveda fans, we appreciated the rosemary-mint-scented bath products. The complimentary breakfast was a nice perk (get there early to avoid the chaos and get a seat) as was the free WiFi.

We also loved the gratis bicycles and had an excellent time pedaling on the path along the beach. While we got a bogus recommendation for a supposedly great seafood restaurant from one of the staff members, another worker smoothly took care of some incorrect minibar charges (seriously, we didn't eat a Snickers) and the person who prepped our bikes was helpful, so we'll give the staff a thumbs-up.

What We Didn't Like: As we mentioned, the mysterious stains on the comforter gave us the heebies.

Bottom Line: Rooms usually cost up to $309, but we scored a nice weekday special of $175 per night. Despite the questionable blanket stains, the abundance of amenities and great location swayed us. We really enjoyed our two-night stay and would definitely go back there again.

[Photos: HotelChatter]

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Review Update

Update: After our review, we heard from Kate Jerkens, vice president of sales and marketing for JRK, the group that owns Hotel Oceana Santa Barbara. She told us our two major issues, the room not being ready at check-in and the stained comforter, have been addressed by General Manager Melissa Treue. Jerkens said the check-in time is actually 3 p.m., and the fact that a room wasn't available "is not acceptable," and that they are working to ensure it doesn't happen again. She said the comforter incident "was wildly concerning" and conceded that it should have been caught prior to check-in. But she assures us that it's been handled with the housekeeping team.

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