Sep 26, 2023



Travel Inspiration

5 Luxe Hotels in Santa Barbara, California’s Ritzy Coastal City

Fora Author Fora

The Modern Travel Agency


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Sunny, beachy and all kinds of cool: Santa Barbara often flies under the radar as the (sort-of) middle point between Los Angeles and San Francisco. But don’t sleep on this beautiful California city. Or better yet: do sleep in one of the best hotels in Santa Barbara (we’ve got five great options for you) because this coastal refuge makes a strong case for being your next vacation destination.

Ready to travel? Connect with Fora to plan and book your trip to ritzy Santa Barbara with VIP hotel perks, one-on-one support and more extras sure to make your vacation a blast.

What’s the best area to stay in Santa Barbara?

If you’re visiting for upscale boutiques, trendy bars and restaurants: Downtown Santa Barbara — particularly around State Street — is where to stay. If you want stunning views of the Pacific and a chill atmosphere, West Beach (and again, especially near State Street) will be your vibe.

Nearly all the best hotels in Santa Barbara are spread across these two neighborhoods, too, so you can’t really go wrong with either. And since Santa Barbara is a fairly small city, you’re never too far away from the action.

The 5 best hotels in Santa Barbara

Read on for five of the best hotels in Santa Barbara. 

Or skip the reading and connect with Fora to plan and book your trip with tailored hotel recs and itinerary suggestions.

1. Hotel Californian: an awesome hotel in Santa Barbara in an unbeatable location

Image courtesy of Hotel Californian

In many ways, Hotel Californian represents the best of Santa Barbara: it’s chic, it’s luxurious, it’s in a great location (just off State Street in West Beach, near Santa Barbara Harbor) — there’s a lot to love. 

Design-wise, this Santa Barbara hotel sports a Moroccan-inspired theme, lavish furnishings and incredible views. The vibe is sophisticated and artful, but relaxation still remains a clear design point. Need more details? Check out our full review of Hotel Californian.

Fora Perks at Hotel Californian:

  • $100 hotel / resort credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

2. The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara: a self-contained resort tucked away from Downtown 

Image courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara

The Ritz-Carlton Bacara feels like it’s in its own little world. While it’s only a short drive from Downtown Santa Barbara, the hotel is located just past Haskell’s Beach — a hidden gem favored by locals — on the outskirts of the city. The area is well known for its golf course and tennis courts, which set the scene for a laid-back vacation where travelers can enjoy stunning views of the Pacific.

As for the resort itself, The Ritz-Carlton Bacara leans into the California themes with mission-style architecture and an emphasis on tastings from area wineries, including those of oft-overlooked Paso Robles (curious? Check out our guide to wine getaway in Paso Robles).

Plan and book your trip with Fora to level up your stay at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara.

Fora Perks at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara:

  • $100 hotel / resort credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

3. Palihouse Santa Barbara: a stylish, contemporary hotel in Downtown

Image courtesy of Palihouse Santa Barbara

A luxurious boutique hotel in Santa Barbara, Palihouse is very much an extension of the city’s upscale and trendy Downtown district. There’s an old-school-cool feel here cultivated by the hotel’s blend of vintage furniture, contemporary decor and vibrant greenery (Santa Barbara has a long-running affair with placing potted plants everywhere you look — it’s quite pleasant!).

You’ll find Palihouse just a couple blocks away from the city’s gorgeous courthouse and State Street — far enough away to enjoy some relative quiet when you’re ready to wind down, but close enough to easily rejoin the fun. 

(Visiting the city with kids? Check out our local’s guide to a family-friendly vacation in Santa Barbara.)

Fora Perks at Palihouse:

  • Welcome Amenity

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out upon availability

4. Kimpton Canary Hotel: one of the best hotels off Santa Barbara’s State Street

Image courtesy of Kimpton Canary Hotel

Style-wise, Kimpton Canary Hotel doesn’t necessarily do anything to set itself apart from other high-end hotels in Santa Barbara by featuring classic California Mission stylings. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing — the furnishings are lovely and comfy. 

The real draw of this hotel, however, is its location in the heart of downtown, not even a full block away from the busiest part of State Street. Naturally, Kimpton Canary is where to stay in Santa Barbara if you’re visiting to sample the city’s best gastronomy, shopping and nightlife (see our weekend guide to Santa Barbara), and want a lavish and convenient base.

Connect with Fora for more intel on Kimpton Canary, including how we can level up your trip with awesome perks and extras.

Fora Perks at Kimpton Canary Hotel:

  • $50 hotel / resort credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & late check-out whenever possible.

5. El Encanto, A Belmond Hotel, Santa Barbara: an elite hotel in the city’s historic district

Image courtesy of El Encanto, a Belmond Hotel, Santa Barbara

Classy and uncompromising when it comes to amenities and comfort, El Encanto is a world-class Santa Barbara hotel. Each room is painstakingly furnished for an experience that’s delightfully upscale, yet still homey — a rare balance. 

From an accommodation's standpoint, El Encanto is one of the best hotels in Santa Barbara. However, the location may prove divisive. You’ll find this five-star hotel near the original Santa Barbara Mission in the city’s historic Riviera district, which is mostly residential. The views of the city and ocean are stunning, and for many, worth the somewhat remote nature of the hotel. 

And that leads us to the only downside: the hotel is somewhat removed from the lively parts of town — no more so than The Ritz-Carlton — but enough to warrant driving to any nearby attractions (State Street, the beach, etc.). On the other hand, Santa Barbara is fairly easy to navigate by car so some may not see this as a downside at all.

Fora Perks at El Encanto:

  • $100 hotel / resort credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Book with Fora for VIP perks at the best hotels in Santa Barbara

Can’t decide where to stay in Santa Barbara? Plan and book your trip with Fora. We’ll recommend the best hotels in Santa Barbara per your preferences. Plus, we’ll hook you up with VIP hotel perks at no extra cost. 

Not sure what to do once you’re there? Check out our guides to a luxury getaway in Santa Barbara or our quick, 3-day Santa Barbara itinerary. Better yet, connect with us for tailored recommendations. 

Or maybe you’re not sure Santa Barbara is the right destination for your next trip. We’ve still got you covered with more hotel guides:

This article has been fact checked by Fora Advisor Cindy Lu, an expert on travel to Santa Barbara, California.

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    Furnished room behind open barn style doors