Updated: May 21, 2015

Reviews: Best Santa Barbara Hotels

The city of Santa Barbara is about 95 miles north of Los Angeles on a beautiful stretch of Hwy 101 with the California coastline on one side and the Los Padres National Forest on the other. Santa Barbara has become one of the most wealthy real estate areas in all of California with property values escalating. Celebrities like Oprah Winfrey own homes in this gorgeous city and the 2 colleges (Santa Barbara City College and the University of California Santa Barbara) keep it lively and upbeat during most of the year. The downtown region of Santa Barbara has some luxury hotels like the Canary Hotel and Inn of the Spanish Garden which are within a short walk to State St. Hotel Santa Barbara is situated right on State St near the intersection of E. Haley. Finding a hotel room near the downtown section of Santa Barbara is your best bet, but rates are very high and you'll pay for the convenience of the hotel location. There are some cheap hotels near downtown Santa Barbara that we will discuss down below.


I would say a visit to Santa Barbara wouldn't be complete without going out to the beach and perhaps even taking a walk along Stearn's Wharf. If you follow State Street due west you can't miss the wharf because it runs right into it. E. Cabrillo Blvd runs along the ocean and hotels like Fess Parkers Doubletree Resort Santa Barbara and Harbor View Inn are right on the boulevard. A little further down the coast towards Montecito sits the 5 star hotel Four Seasons-Biltmore Hotel right on Channel Dr. The Biltmore Hotel Santa Barbara is a resort worth checking out although room rates are in excess of $500/night. The one thing we found in all of our stays in Santa Barbara is that hotel rooms are very expensive compared to most other cities of this size. I don't know if it's the location or wealthy parents visiting college students, but bargain hotel rates are hard to find. I have found that places like the Eagle Inn offer reasonable rate for midweek stays ($125/night). The Eagle Inn is on Natoma Ave only a few blocks from the beach and Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) and the inn is located in a quaint residential neighborhood. Another excellent option is Hotel Virginia (a Holiday Inn Express property) which is in the heart of Santa Barbara just off W. Haley Street near State St. Rooms are about $150/night midweek in the off-season and close to $190 otherwise. The Santa Barbara Amtrak Station is right on State St a few blocks from the beach. The Santa Barbara Airport is up the coast near Goleta and the website is at Flysba.com with airlines such as American, United, Us Airways, Delta, Horizon Air, and Alaska serving the airport each day with arrivals and departures. Taxi fares from the airport to downtown are around $30. When should you go? There is really no "off-season" in Santa Barbara given average temperatures even in December and January are about 65 degrees and summer months are a mild 75 degrees. I would try to stay near State Street so you can walk to restaurants, bars, shops, etc. If you prefer the beach, then go with one of our selections down below. Look for "specials" on the websites of the hotels in Santa Barbara for the best deals and "last minute offers" do exist. Santa Barbara is beautiful at deserves at least one visit in your lifetime.

Santa Barbara Luxury Hotels:

When we looked into reviews of "luxury hotels" in Santa Barbara, 2 places came up more often than any others. The Inn of the Spanish Garden is a boutique hotel in downtown Santa Barbara with a Spanish- Mediterranean design. There are only 23 guest rooms and suites so they often fill up fast. There is a fitness center and swimming pool on site and you get a complimentary breakfast in the morning. Parking is free in a covered garage. The address is 915 Garden Street which is 3 small blocks from State Street. The rooms feature high speed internet access, gas fireplaces, TV, refrigerator, comfortable beds, and either balcony/patio. Midweek room rates (November) go for $270/deluxe king and weekend rates are slighly higher. You can find this Santa Barbara Inn online at Spanishgardeninn.com. Our other top selection for luxury hotel in Santa Barbara is the exquisite Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara that sits out along the coastline. The Biltmore Hotel Santa Barbara offers 207 guest accommodations In-room massage and spa services are offered and room rates are expensive ($550/night and up). Located at 1260 Channel Dr, you can take the Spring Rd exit off Hwy 101 and head down Olive Mill Rd. to the resort. Reviews overwhelmingly say the hotel is a "gem" and "first class in everyway", but most agree that it is overpriced for what you get. If you have the $$, then splurging on this Santa Barbara luxury hotel will provide memories for years to come.

Cheap Hotels Santa Barbara:

The underlying dilemma in finding a cheap hotel or motel in Santa Barbara is that they are hard to come by. The The Eagle Inn we feel offers up one of the best bargains in town with queen rooms on a weekday that go for $126/night and weekend rates start at around $190 for a queen room. The location is perfect if being right in downtown is not that important. You are literally 3 minutes from the beach and the neighborhood feel of this Santa Barbara Inn make it worth the price. Those that have reviewed the Eagle Inn call it "romantic", "charming", and "immaculate" with an excellent staff to meet all your needs. You can find it online at Theeagleinn.com. Another reasonably priced hotel right near the Pacific Ocean is the Harbor View Inn with rooms that start at $195 on most days of the week including Friday nights. Saturday nights are upwards of $250, but look for off-season specials in November to January for discounted weekend rates. The inn gets a 4 diamond rating from AAA and their website is at Harborviewinnsb.com. Great luxury boutique hotel in Santa Barbara. There are other cheaper hotels on the outskirts of town, but it's worth the extra $$'s to stay near the ocean or State St.

Santa Barbara Airport Hotel:

The Hampton Inn & Suites Goleta is the top pick when it comes to lodging near the Santa Barbara Airport. The hotel is right off of Hollister Ave in Goleta less than a mile from the airport. Reviews are very positive for this hotel and you can find it online HERE. Room rates start at $169/night for weekdays and there are 98 rooms to choose from. Breakfast is free, there is a pool and workout area, and all guest rooms have microwaves, coffee makers, refrigerators, irons, etc. Great spot near the airport and worth the money.

Santa Barbara Beach Hotel:

For location it's hard to bea the The Hotel Oceana Santa Barbara which sits on West Beach near the harbor and the wharf. There are 122 resort rooms and rates are not cheap, although midweek AAA rates in October were around $200. Reviews were basically mixed on this beachside hotel. Some people mention that the location is worth the $$ and others say the hotel needs some updating and the towels were filthy. For the best rates consider using Priceline.com - one review noted they got a $122/night rate here by using Priceline. The official website is HERE. Bacara is a beautiful Santa Barbara Resort & Spa with accommodations that will amaze you. The resort rests on 78 beachfront acres and rooms start at $475/night. It's off 101 at 8301 Hollister Ave and people describe it as an "almost perfect getaway" but do say the price per room is way to expensive. You can find the resort and spa online HERE. A "good value" is the Fess Parkers Doubletree Resort Santa Barbara which has rooms starting at $220 in the off season and guest reviews are mostly positive saying the location and staff are amazing. The beach hotel in Santa Barbara is right on E. Cabrillo Blvd and opens up to the beach overlooking the Pacific Ocean. You can find them online HERE.