There’s no shortage of elysian Santa Barbara hotels in both the seaside city and its idyllic surrounding areas of Montecito and the Santa Ynez wine country. The central California region, after all, has been a popular getaway since the early 1950s—its abundance of sunshine, Mediterranean climate, and sprawling Pacific Ocean views made it a magnet for well-to-do honeymooners, road-trippers, and celebrities during the booming post-war era. Soon, the area gained the nickname of the “American Riviera” (a nod to the French coastal region idealized by vacationers of every era, everywhere).
70 years later, and the area’s popularity proves perennial: Santa Barbara a must-stop for those cruising down the Pacific Coast Highway, Los Angeles weekenders, and, well, anyone who desires to live out a California fantasy. So, for those planning—or just daydreaming—about a trip, here are our favorite Santa Barbara hotels in the city proper and its surrounding areas.
High in the hills of Montecito is the peaceful oasis that is El Encanto, a Belmond hotel with greenery-covered walkways, ivy-adorned trellises, and a calming infinity pool that seemingly stretches into the horizon. Spacious rooms are adorned in a Spanish-colonial-meets-California-cool aesthetic (think terracotta as well as tilework complemented with crisp white accents), and most feature balconies or patios perfect for a morning coffee—although you may want to enjoy that (or an afternoon tea service) on the property’s idyllic terrace with Pacific Ocean views.