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- Best Overall: Harbor House Inn – See Rates at TripAdvisor "Reviewers praise its amazing service and location."
- Runner-Up, Best Overall: Spanish Garden Inn – See Rates at TripAdvisor "A short walk from The Granada Theatre and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art."
- Best Budget: Agave Inn – See Rates at TripAdvisor "Two-star Agave Inn offers excellent value for money."
- Best Luxury: Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara – See Rates at TripAdvisor "A historic hideaway with 22 acres of gardens, fountains, and secret courtyards."
- Best for Families: Inn by the Harbor – See Rates at TripAdvisor "With West Beach an easy walk away, it’s ideal for families."
- Best for Romance: San Ysidro Ranch, a Ty Warner Property – See Rates at TripAdvisor "An idyllic getaway nestled in the Montecito foothills."
- Best Business: Hotel Californian – See Rates at TripAdvisor "A sophisticated choice for business or pleasure."
- Best Historic: Simpson House Inn – See Rates at TripAdvisor "As a Victorian estate built in 1874, the adults-only boutique hotel has its own impressive history."
- Best B&B: Bath Street Inn – See Rates at TripAdvisor "A quaint B&B with 12 peaceful rooms divided between the main house and the Summer House."
Best Overall: Harbor House Inn
Family-owned Harbor House Inn is ranked on TripAdvisor as the best hotel in Santa Barbara. Reviewers praise its amazing service and location, which is one block from West Beach and a short stroll from Stearns Wharf and Santa Barbara Harbor. The hotel has 17 cozy studios, each one decorated in a classic yet contemporary style with a warm color scheme and wooden floors. All rooms offer fast, free Wi-Fi, freshly ground local coffees and teas, and a smart TV with streaming services.
Upgrade to a Deluxe Spa Bedroom for a hydrotherapy tub and your own private patio. One of the Deluxe King Studios even comes with its own charming fireplace. If you stay two nights or more, you’ll be treated to a complimentary welcome basket filled with delicious local snacks. Otherwise, there’s no restaurant on-site, but you can use the hotel’s cruiser bikes to discover Santa Barbara’s culinary highlights in style. You’ll also have access to complimentary beach chairs, towels, and umbrellas, while free parking is available for mid-sized vehicles.
Check out other beachside accommodations with our reviews of the best beachfront hotels in California.
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Spanish Garden Inn
For beautiful, boutique accommodation in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara, choose Spanish Garden Inn. It’s a short walk from The Granada Theatre and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and is loved by past guests for its tranquil ambiance. There are just 23 rooms and suites to choose from, all decorated in a nostalgic Spanish style with a gas fireplace, a 40-inch HD TV, a French press coffeemaker, and a private balcony or patio. Some rooms spoil with four-poster beds and deep-soaking tubs, while suites come with a separate sitting area.
Each day starts with a complimentary continental breakfast. Then, wander out into the garden to sunbathe or to take a dip in the heated outdoor pool. If you go out sightseeing, make sure you’re back in time for the hotel’s evening wine reception. Other highlights include in-room spa treatments, a fitness room, and underground garage parking. Although there’s no restaurant, you’re spoiled for choice with nearby options – including a Mexican seafood eatery and a Lebanese restaurant within a five-minute walk.
Best Budget: Agave Inn
True budget hotels are hard to come by in Santa Barbara, but two-star Agave Inn offers excellent value for money. It’s situated in a safe, quiet area within a 10-minute drive of the beach. There are 13 rooms, all of them simply decorated with bright white linens and cheerfully colorful walls. Unwind in front of the TV, use the free Wi-Fi to check out your next sightseeing destination, or fix yourself simple meals using the microwave, mini-fridge, and coffeemaker. Choose a queen or king-sized bed, or accommodate friends and family in a room with two doubles.
One of the family rooms has its own full kitchen, so you can save money by self-catering. Don’t feel like cooking on vacation? Don’t worry – breakfast is free and there are plenty of affordable restaurants nearby. Take a short stroll to De La Vina Street and discover global eateries serving cuisine from Mexico, Japan, and Italy. Parking is free, and there are buses available if you don’t have a car.
Best Luxury: Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara
Just outside central Santa Barbara lies Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore – a historic hideaway with 22 acres of gardens, fountains, and secret courtyards. All accommodations are steeped in Spanish Colonial charm, from hand-painted Andalusian tiling in the bathroom of the Riviera Room to elaborate wooden beams on the ceiling of the San Miguel Suite. For the ultimate luxurious experience, book the Ty Warner villa, which boasts 4,000 square feet of space including two outdoor terraces, a fireside lounge, and an oceanfront plunge pool.
Wherever you sleep, spend decadent days relaxing at Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club. Amidst Art Deco grandeur, you’ll find an enormous swimming pool, a fitness center, yoga classes, oceanfront dining, and private access to Butterfly Beach. The hotel also boasts an award-winning rose garden and an immaculate croquet lawn. There's also the spa for indulgent massages. Of the six restaurants and bars, Coral Reef Bar stands out for its 275-gallon saltwater aquarium while Ty Lounge invites you to savor Spanish tapas and local wines by the fireplace.
Best for Families: Inn by the Harbor
Spanish-style Inn by the Harbor enjoys a convenient location between the ocean and downtown Santa Barbara. With West Beach an easy walk away, it’s ideal for families. The hotel provides complimentary beach cruiser bikes for exploring at leisure, although you may find it hard to convince your little ones to leave as they’re sure to love the inn’s lush gardens and heated swimming pool.
Mom and dad can also fit in some quality relaxation on the sundeck or in the whirlpool spa. There are 43 rooms and suites, all with free high-speed Wi-Fi, a fridge, a coffeemaker, and a flatscreen TV. The TV includes HBO and a DVD player with free movie rentals – a good backup plan in the event of rare bad weather days. The two-bedroom Harbor Pool Suite is the perfect choice for families who appreciate a little extra space and the ability to self-cater in a full kitchen. All rates include a complimentary continental breakfast, an afternoon reception, and evening milk and cookies.
Want more options? Check out our guide to the best family-friendly hotels in California.
Best for Romance: San Ysidro Ranch, a Ty Warner Property
San Ysidro Ranch has hosted many famous guests — Vivien Leigh and Sir Laurence Olivier got married here, while John and Jackie Kennedy spent their honeymoon at this idyllic getaway nestled in the Montecito foothills. With its sprawling gardens and private, uniquely decorated cottages and hideaways, the resort is made for romance. All accommodations wow with polished oak floors and Persian rugs, antique furniture, and cozy fireplaces. Spend time on your private patio, deck, or verandah; or sleep in late on the canopied king-sized bed.
For an extra touch of romance, choose a cottage with a sunken outdoor hot tub. Beyond your private sanctuary, you’ll discover a five-star spa, a blissful heated swimming pool, and 17 miles of hiking trails that take you through the spectacular scenery of the Santa Ynez Mountains. In the evenings, you have a choice of two award-winning restaurants. The Stonehouse serves regional Californian cuisine and wines by the fireplace or beneath the stars on an ocean-view deck.
Best Business: Hotel Californian
Five-star Hotel Californian puts you at the heart of the action, within walking distance of the beach and downtown Santa Barbara. With its elegant Spanish façade and Moorish-inspired interiors, it’s a sophisticated choice for business or pleasure. However, it’s an especially good fit for those in search of a corporate event venue. For smaller board meetings and training sessions, the hotel offers five flexible meeting rooms complete with audiovisual equipment and optional catering packages.
For company galas and product launches, there’s a 2,850-square-foot ballroom or the rooftop event deck. The rooftop also has a beautiful swimming pool. Spend your downtime here, sipping cocktails and admiring panoramic ocean and mountain views. Other amenities include a Turkish spa and four excellent dining and drinking outlets. Head to all-day café Goat Tree for build-your-own picnic baskets and casual outdoor seating, then celebrate a successful deal with local wines and farm-to-table cuisine at Blackbird. All 121 rooms and suites offer free Wi-Fi, a Nespresso machine, and a 65-inch HD TV.
Best Historic: Simpson House Inn
Simpson House Inn is a 15-minute walk away from Old Mission Santa Barbara. As a Victorian estate built in 1874, the adults-only boutique hotel also has its own impressive history. There are 15 cottages and guest rooms (either in the Manor House or the Carriage House), each one uniquely decorated with handpicked antiques. Special features range from original Victorian wallpaper to clawfoot tubs, canopied four-poster beds, and Oriental rugs. Many rooms also have fireplaces and private outdoor verandahs or courtyards.
There are many ways to spend your time at Simpson House Inn. Opt for a moment of pure pampering with an in-room facial or massage, or borrow one of the complimentary bicycles for an adventure around downtown Santa Barbara. The hotel is set within an acre of English gardens that have been recognized with a Santa Barbara Beautiful Award. All room rates include a complimentary gourmet breakfast, afternoon refreshments and an evening wine, and hors d’oeuvres reception. Wi-Fi and parking are also available free of charge.
Best B&B: Bath Street Inn
Also located in Santa Barbara’s heritage district is Bath Street Inn, a quaint B&B with 12 peaceful rooms divided between the main house (built in the 1890s) and the Summer House. Each has its own distinct decor, from the vintage bird wallpaper in the Partridge Room to the cabbage roses adorning the walls in the Rose Room. Choose the Balcony Room for a romantic location under the eaves and a historic sunset-view balcony. Either way, you’ll be treated to a multi-course hot breakfast every morning.
Entrées change every day but could include anything from raspberry pancakes to peach-stuffed French toast, all accompanied by locally roasted organic coffee. Plus, mouthwatering food is a hallmark of your stay at Bath Street Inn, with afternoon tea and an evening wine and cheese hour included in your room rate as well. In between meals and sightseeing outings, spend time relaxing in the library or in wicker chairs on the front porch. The patio is especially beautiful, with its wisteria vines and twinkling fairy lights.
If you're looking to explore other cities in California, take a look at our selection of the best Los Angeles hotels.