12 Best Hotels in Santa Barbara, United States - Mar 2019

We scanned a lot of guest reviews to rank Santa Barbara's best hotels. We ranked the available hotels based on Popularity, Price, Guest reviews, Brand reputation and Expert articles
1 Room, 1 Adult
Star Rating
# 1

Simpson House Inn

121 East Arrellaga StreetView on map
9.4
Superb
based on 286 reviews
Parking
Room service
24-hour front desk
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Simpson House Inn

9.4
Guest RatingSuperb
Reviews
Amenities
Top Comments From Travellers
# 2

Spanish Garden Inn

915 Garden StreetView on map
9.3
Superb
based on 274 reviews
Parking
Room service
Meeting/banquet facilities
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Spanish Garden Inn

9.3
Guest RatingSuperb
Reviews
Amenities
Top Comments From Travellers
# 3

Cheshire Cat Inn

36 West Valerio Street View on map
9.3
Superb
based on 237 reviews
Parking
Golf course (within 3 km)
Garden
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Cheshire Cat Inn

9.3
Guest RatingSuperb
Reviews
Amenities
Top Comments From Travellers
# 4

Belmond El Encanto

800 Alvarado PlaceView on map
9.3
Superb
based on 195 reviews
Parking
Restaurant
Pets allowed
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Belmond El Encanto

9.3
Guest RatingSuperb
Reviews
Amenities
Top Comments From Travellers
# 5

Santa Barbara Inn

901 East Cabrillo BoulevardView on map
9.1
Superb
based on 739 reviews
Parking
Restaurant
Room service
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Santa Barbara Inn

9.1
Guest RatingSuperb
Reviews
Amenities
Top Comments From Travellers
# 6

Blue Sands Inn

421 South Milpas StreetView on map
9.1
Superb
based on 367 reviews
Parking
Pets allowed
Golf course (within 3 km)
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Blue Sands Inn

9.1
Guest RatingSuperb
Reviews
Amenities
Top Comments From Travellers
# 7

Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara

1260 Channel DriveView on map
9.0
Superb
based on 130 reviews
Parking
Restaurant
Pets allowed
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Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara

9.0
Guest RatingSuperb
Reviews
Amenities
Top Comments From Travellers
# 8

Hotel Californian

36 State StreetView on map
9.1
Superb
based on 61 reviews
Parking
Restaurant
Pets allowed
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Hotel Californian

9.1
Guest RatingSuperb
Reviews
Amenities
Top Comments From Travellers
# 9

Kimpton Canary Hotel

31 West Carrillo StreetView on map
9.0
Superb
based on 2507 reviews

Kimpton Canary Hotel

9.0
Guest RatingSuperb
Top Comments From Travellers
# 10

Harbor View Inn Santa Barbara

28 West Cabrillo BoulevardView on map
8.1
Very Good
based on 1261 reviews

Harbor View Inn Santa Barbara

8.1
Guest RatingVery Good
Top Comments From Travellers
# 11

Spanish Garden Inn

915 Garden StreetView on map
9.9
Superb
based on 1981 reviews

Spanish Garden Inn

9.9
Guest RatingSuperb
Top Comments From Travellers
# 12

Belmond El Encanto

800 Alvarado PlaceView on map
9.2
Superb
based on 1638 reviews

Belmond El Encanto

9.2
Guest RatingSuperb
Top Comments From Travellers

Your Travel Guide to Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara may be a little out of the way, but it has all for which California is famous: sun, sand, and surf--so much so, that people have coined it, “The American Riviera”. Not too far inland, you have scenic mountains and the expansive Los Padres National Forest nearby. There are historical sites dating back 300 years! You can also get views of flora and fauna of California that are hard to get anywhere else, in the various nature reserves, museums, and gardens.


What are the Must-Do-s and See-s of Santa Barbara?

Historical Sites

Old Mission Santa Barbara and Mission Canyon

The Santa Barbara Mission was founded in 1786 by Spanish Franciscans. It continues to be used to this very day--you can participate in the services, and ring the bells in the mission! Take a tour of the mission--it’s especially worthwhile to see La Huerta at Old Mission: a sort of protected botanical gardens, which provided the mission with fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as ornamental utilitarian plants. The hotels Sandpiper Lodge and the Lemon Tree Inn are located nearby.


Santa Barbara Historical Museum

Another taste of Santa Barbara history includes the Santa Barbara Historical Museum. It is housed in adobes dating from 1817 and 1836, and features artifacts from the indigenous Chumash tribe, the Spanish conquistadors, and the American settlers.


The Presidio

El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park is a fortress that was built in 1782, and is presently preserved as a 5.5 acre park. You can take a tour of two of the original buildings, and visit the Presidio gardens.


Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History is divided into two parts: the Museum of Natural History is further inland, near the Mission Santa Barbara. It features 3.5 million specimens of mammals, birds, and marine life, geology and paleontology exhibits, and a planetarium and observatory.


Stearns Wharf, Sea Center, Cruises

The Stearns Wharf is a nice stop along the way, with restaurants, specialty shops (offering wine tasting, toys and gifts, and jewelry), and even special events at certain times of the year.

If you’re with children, Chase Palm Park has an interesting playground, lighthouse, and other activities. As you continue on Cabrillo Boulevard, you’ll reach the Andree Clark Bird Refuge. When at the beach, you have a choice of going swimming, paddleboarding, surfing, or sailing. The Harbor View Inn of Santa Barbara and the Hotel Californian are superb hotels in the area of Stearns Wharf.


On Stearns Wharf, you’ll find the other branch of the Museum of Natural History: the Sea Center, featuring unique close encounters with marine life. The Museum and the Sea Center are “hands-on” museums: for example, the Museum of Natural History has star gazing every Saturday night, and the Sea Center gives you the opportunity to pet a shark, a sea anemone, jellyfish, or manta ray! It also teaches about the tools that professional oceanographers use for making observations.


Stearns Wharf offers lots of opportunities for scenic cruises or boat rentals. Celebration Cruises offers a number of sunset cruises and excursions for watching whales, sea lions, and dolphins. Check out their “Lil Toot” water taxi, that takes you on 15-minute narrated cruises around Santa Barbara Bay.


Santa Barbara Botanical Garden

The Santa Barbara Botanical Garden is also quite worth a visit: It is a 78-acre expanse, specializing in local California plants, along its several trails: the Arroyo (Spanish for “creek”) section, displaying plants that require constant moisture, the Campbell Trail of evergreen shrubs, the Canyon Section, the Desert Section, and even a Redwood Forest--something for which California is famous!


Elings Park, Arroyo Burro Beach County Park, Douglas Family Preserve

There is a stretch of nice parks and beach in Santa Barbara, the largest of which is Elings Park. It has facilities for various sports, hiking trails, operating remote control cars and airplanes, paragliding and hang gliding, and much more.

The Douglas Family Preserve is a 70-acre green space that allows opportunities for hiking, bike riding, and viewing wildlife. There even is a section where you can go hang gliding! The landscape includes areas of woodland, scrub, creek, and grassland.

The Arroyo Burro Beach is beachfront property next to the Douglas Family Preserve, with areas for you to go swimming, surfing, horseback riding, birdwatching, or just to enjoy the scenic view while picnicking.

Waterfront District

The Santa Barbara Waterfront is something that you must experience, either by biking, walking, or just for taking a few stunning photographs. If you’re a biking enthusiast, the Cabrillo Bike Path on Cabrillo Boulevard runs along three beaches You can first start at Shoreline Park, and then proceed down 1000 Steps Beach (which are really only 150 steps!) to Leadbetter Beach.


Santa Barbara Zoo and Andree Clark Bird Refuge

The Santa Barbara Zoo houses 146 species of animals in 30 acres, and has a number of attractions, such as animal feedings, behind-the-scenes experiences, and opportunities to learn about conservation efforts and preserving endangered species. There are special programs for children, and other programs designed for seniors!

As we mentioned, there is the Andree Clark Bird Refuge, a 42-acre open area, with a 29-acre lake with three islands in the middle. It is forbidden to boat or fish in the area, and feeding the wildlife is also a no-no--but it’s a great area for walking or bike riding, taking an opportunity to observe some of the 200 species of birds that reside in the area over the course of the year.


Santa Barbara County Courthouse

At first, you wouldn’t think that a courthouse would be a building of historical significance, much less as a tourist attraction. Yet, the architecture and artwork that has been invested in the Santa Barbara County Courthouse has earned it the status of a historical landmark. It was built in 1929, on the site of a former courthouse that existed there from 1872. It really consists of four buildings, including the Jail Wing (which is really the County District Attorney’s office), the Hall of Records Building, the Anacapa Wing, and the Figueroa Wing. It is suggested to check out the Mural Room, as well as the Clock Gallery, with a ceiling that is adorned with the constellations of the night sky! The lawns and garden are frequently used for concerts and festivals.  


Getting To and Around Santa Barbara

From Santa Barbara Municipal Airport

Santa Barbara has its own airport, slightly north along the coast, and gets traffic from the major cities in the area: Los Angeles, Denver, Phoenix, San Francisco, and more. If flying directly to Santa Barbara is a bit of a hassle, try flying to Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Denver, and taking another flight to Santa Barbara.

If you fly into Los Angeles, it will be a 1.5 hour drive to Santa Barbara.


Traveling in Santa Barbara

Within Santa Barbara, there are Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District ( = MTD) buses. Another option are downtown and waterfront shuttles, going between points such as State Street in Santa Barbara’s downtown, to the Santa Barbara Zoo and Santa Barbara Harbor.

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