Best Boutique Hotels in Santa Barbara, California

12 Cool Boutique Hotels in Santa Barbara, California

Known as the American Riviera, Santa Barbara is a sophisticated beachside city in Southern California. Visitors flock here year-round for its palm-lined beaches, Spanish-style architecture, and ritzy resorts. Whether you’re looking to have an unforgettable family vacation or a romantic retreat, Santa Barbara is the perfect destination for a luxurious getaway. 

While Santa Barbara boasts some of the prettiest beaches in Southern California, there’s far more to this dynamic town than just the beach. You can stroll along the city’s historic pier, go shopping on State Street, or enjoy a freshly caught seafood dinner at a beachside restaurant. 

History buffs will love exploring the El Presidio neighborhood and the Old Mission Santa Barbara. And outdoor enthusiasts can hike along one of Santa Barbara’s many scenic trails, embark on a whale watching tour, or surf the area’s epic waves. 

No trip to Santa Barbara is complete without exploring the trendy Funk Zone neighborhood. You can easily while away the weekend sipping wine at the area’s award-winning tasting rooms, perusing local art in the funky galleries, or savoring a gourmet meal at a hip restaurant.  

Santa Barbara is chock full of Spanish-style retreats, lavish beachfront resorts, and retro boutique hotels. So many, in fact, that you might have a hard time choosing the perfect one. So we’ve created a list of the 12 best hotels in Santa Barbara to help you plan your perfect getaway!

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Where to Stay in Santa Barbara

Where to Stay in Santa Barbara: Boutique Hotels

Most of the best hotels in Santa Barbara are clustered around the West Beach neighborhood. This area is popular for its ocean view restaurants, chic shops, and beautiful beach. Plus, you can go biking and walking along the paved oceanfront promenade. 

The Funk Zone is home to some of the coolest boutique hotels in Santa Barbara. This revamped industrial area has emerged as the hippest area of town and you’ll be steps away from the city’s best tasting rooms, art galleries, and restaurants. Hop on a beach cruiser – the beach is just a couple of minutes away!

There are also plenty of excellent hotels in downtown Santa Barbara. Plus, if you base yourself in the heart of town you’ll be near all of the shops and restaurants that line the vibrant State Street. Luckily, Santa Barbara is a relatively small city, so the beach is never more than 10 minutes away!

12 Best Hotels in Santa Barbara

1. The Waterman

Best Hotels in Santa Barbara, California: The Waterman
Photos: The Waterman

Nestled right in the heart of the Funk Zone neighborhood, The Waterman is definitely the coolest hotel in Santa Barbara. Not only are you steps away from a range of art galleries, wineries, and eateries, but this hotel has all sorts of awesome features!

With its upscale hostel vibes, The Waterman is geared toward younger, more budget-minded travelers and digital nomads. Expect to find offbeat amenities like luxury bunk beds, a top-of-the-line communal kitchen, and plenty of social spaces. You can opt for a shared dorm room or a traditional room, so there’s something to suit all needs. 

All rooms are outfitted with industrial-chic decor, ultra-comfy beds with luxury linens, and 42-inch flat screens. The quirky tiger pillows and vintage telephones add a whimsical touch. And the stylish modern bathrooms boast sleek subway tiles, walk-in showers, and LATHER toiletries.

You can read a book in the library, take Insta-worthy photos around the outdoor pool, and play a game of ping-pong or corn hole with your fellow guests. The hotel also serves an excellent (and free!) breakfast – perfect for fueling up before a day exploring Santa Barbara. You can also rent beach cruisers at the front desk, which makes getting around a breeze!

2. Hotel Milo Santa Barbara

Located directly across from West Beach and Sterns Wharf, beach bums will love staying at Hotel Milo. This 122-room hotel is housed in a beautiful Spanish-style building. Expect to find hand-painted Spanish tiles, peaceful water fountains, and original artwork throughout this serene property.

Set on 2.5 acres, the guestrooms are surrounded by lush gardens, towering palm trees, and the beautiful Ambassador Park. You’ll love soaking up the sun at the two outdoor pools, sipping sundowners around the fire pit, and stargazing in the hot tub at night. 

Freebies include wine tasting and light bites in the lobby at night, an excellent continental breakfast in the morning, and two-hour beach cruiser rentals. You’ll also find a ping-pong table and a bocce ball court on the property if you’re feeling competitive!

With blue and white color schemes, contemporary furniture, and antique accents, the rooms offer the perfect sanctuary during your trip. You can keep up with your favorite shows with the flat-screen, listen to your tunes on the iPod docking station, or brew your morning cup of joe with the custom coffee maker. If you want to make the most of your trip to this beachside city, upgrade to one of the rooms with an ocean view!

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3. El Encanto

Where to Stay in Santa Barbara, California: El Encanto
Photos: El Encanto

Perched high in the hills overlooking Santa Barbara and the Pacific Ocean, El Encanto is the perfect pick for a relaxing getaway. Downtown is just 10 minutes away, but you’ll probably never want to leave this incredible boutique hotel!

Built in 1918, El Encanto stands proud as Santa Barbara’s oldest hotel. The property still retains its historic charm and Spanish-style architecture but is fully outfitted with luxurious amenities you’re sure to love!

One of the standout features of El Encanto is the infinity pool, which offers sweeping views of the Pacific. You can also luxuriate at the onsite spa, enjoy seasonal locally sourced California cuisine at the hotel’s restaurants, or wander around the property where you’ll encounter a turtle-filled pond, beautiful gardens, and unbelievable ocean views. 

The 98 rooms, bungalows, and suites are scattered across seven beautiful acres of land. All rooms are outfitted with king-sized beds, marble bathrooms, garden seating, and heated stone bathroom floors. The suites are well worth the splurge for the bougainvillea-covered patios, beautifully decorated living rooms with fireplaces, and lavish bathrooms with deep soaking tubs.

4. Agave Inn

Unique Santa Barbara Hotels: Agave Inn
Photos: Agave Inn

With its retro motel setting and colorful Mexico-inspired decor, the Agave Inn is one of the most unique boutique hotels in Santa Barbara. It’s a great choice for travelers searching for a budget-friendly option near the heart of town. 

Each of the 13 colorful rooms is outfitted with hardwood floors, plush beds with poncho-style throws and pillows, and Mexican movie posters above the bed. You’ll appreciate the practical extras including the microwaves, mini-fridges, and iPod docks. The painted tile, cute potted cacti, and retro decor are all stylish touches. 

If you’re planning on a longer stay or traveling as a small group, the studio rooms boast fully outfitted kitchenettes. Plus, Gelson’s supermarket is right across the street if you want to pick up groceries or premade meals. 

This boutique hotel is conveniently located on State Street, so you can walk to all of the area’s bars, restaurants, and shops! And Downtown Santa Barbara is just a 7-minute drive away. 

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5. Kimpton Goodland

Unique Hotels in Santa Barbara, California: Kimpton Goodland
Photos: The Goodland

Located in neighboring Goleta, The Goodland embraces Southern California’s mellow surf culture. From the surfboard art installations to the VNYL record shop and the 1952 Ford Country Squire parked out front, you’ll love whiling the days away at this mellow boutique hotel. Plus, all of the shops along State Street are just a 10-minute drive away.

Rooms and suites are situated around the massive pool in the courtyard. All rooms feature So-Cal-style decor, natural tones and fabrics, and plush beds with Italian Frette linens. You’ll love the gourmet honor bar, soft bathrobes, and the complimentary Atelier Bloem bath products. 

The Outpost Restaurant serves up quintessential California coastal cuisine and refreshing cocktails. They also prepare a special weekend brunch you won’t want to miss out on! Play a game of backgammon or pool as you enjoy your drinks.

You can curl up by the fire on one of the overstuffed leather couches in the lounge, work on your tan by the outdoor pool, or keep up with your workout routine in the fully outfitted gym. If you feel like exploring the town, just hop on one of the hotel’s beach cruisers!

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6. Palihouse Santa Barbara

Palihouse recently opened its doors in March 2021 so expect everything to be brand new and top-of-the-line. This 24-room boutique hotel is housed in a 1920s Spanish colonial-style building in the historic Presidio neighborhood. All of the trendy shops, tasting rooms, and restaurants of the Funk Zone neighborhood are less than a mile away. 

Every inch of this adorable hotel has been thoughtfully decorated with the concept of “vintage preppy meets American Riviera.” The rooms are situated around a lush Mediterranean-style courtyard complete with a pool, a garden café, and a cocktail bar. There’s also a state-of-the-art gym with Peloton bikes if you’re looking for a serious workout. 

Rooms are outfitted with custom furniture, vintage art, and retro accents. All guest rooms are equipped with a gas fireplace, a balcony, mid-century modern furniture, a cute SMEG refrigerator, a Nespresso coffee machine, and a fully stocked minibar. If you’re planning on a longer stay, the spacious suites come with kitchenettes so you can prepare your own meals.

7. Hideaway Santa Barbara

If big chain brands aren’t your thing, the Hideaway might just be the perfect choice. This charming place feels less like a hotel and more like a home away from home. Plus, the friendly staff will greet you with a glass of bubbly, which is sure to put you in instant vacation mode!

This intimate boutique hotel may only have 9 rooms but that doesn’t mean it lacks in luxury. The Hideaway is housed in a 1908 craftsman home and was fully renovated and updated in 2019 so expect nothing but the best.

Located a few blocks from the beach, it’s fitting that the rooms are outfitted in beach-themed decor and soothing blue and white tones. Each room is unique but they all feature contemporary furniture, large windows offering plenty of natural light, and 55-inch flat-screens with Apple TV. Upgraded suites have fireplaces and separate sitting areas.

Daily complimentary breakfast is served in the sun-filled atrium. While the Hideaway doesn’t have an onsite restaurant, all of the excellent eateries and wineries of the Funk Zone are a short walk away.

8. Santa Barbara Inn

If you’re looking for a hotel right on the beach, the Santa Barbara Inn is one of the best boutique hotels in town. Not only is the beach right across the street, but the Santa Barbara Zoo, State Street, and Stearns Wharf are all less than a mile away.  

Surrounded by swaying palm trees, this Mediterranean-style building boasts 70 well-appointed rooms. You’ll love the elegant tropical-themed decor, luxury Serta mattresses, and marble ensuites with heated floors. The spacious suites boast ocean views, multiple balconies, and opulent living rooms and separate bedrooms. 

While you might not want to actually leave your luxurious room, the hotel has all sorts of enticing amenities. You can lounge around the lovely outdoor pool, work out with an ocean view in the fitness center, and warm up around the outdoor fire pit on chilly evenings. 

Locals and guests alike flock to the popular Convivo Restaurant and Bar. The restaurant’s outdoor terrace boasts panoramic views of the Pacific so it’s the perfect spot for a sunset dinner. Convivo specializes in “Italian nomad” fare including wood-fired pizzas, fresh seafood dishes, and delicious homemade pastas.

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9. Kimpton Canary Hotel

With its incredible rooftop deck and luxurious rooms, the Canary is by far one of the best boutique hotels in Santa Barbara. It’s the perfect pick if you’re planning a romantic retreat or a girls’ getaway! 

You’ll love hanging out on the rooftop deck – floating in the pool with a cocktail in hand, soaking up the California sun on one of the lounge chairs, or living the good life in one of the poolside cabanas. The 360-degree views of the Pacific Ocean and San Ynez Mountains will never get old! 

Once you’ve had enough pool time you can retreat to your luxe room. Each Spanish-style room is outfitted with a four-poster bed with Italian linens, hardwood floors, and a flat-screen TV. You’ll love the extra touches like the hand-painted tiles, iPod docking stations, and gourmet honor bar.  

In the evenings, you can mingle and listen to live music at the complimentary wine hour before heading to the hotel’s restaurant for dinner. Finch & Fork serves up seriously creative new American cuisine using locally sourced ingredients. If you’re tuckered out from a long day on the town, the restaurant will bring food straight to your room.  

10. Rosewood Miramar Beach

Perched right on Miramar Beach, Rosewood is the only beachfront hotel in the area. Miramar Beach is hailed as the most beautiful beach in Santa Barbara so beach lovers can’t go wrong with this luxurious resort. This is hands down the best hotel in Santa Barbara if you want to live in the lap of luxury! 

The concept behind the hotel is to make sure guests feel right at home and have everything they need during their stay. Expect to be treated like royalty!

All of the sophisticated rooms have a furnished terrace, a marble bathroom with luxury bath products, a freestanding tub, and a rain shower. If you want to go big, the Beach House Suites are perched right on the ocean and have huge patios, living rooms with fireplaces, and all sorts of pampering extras. 

This lavish resort is set on 16 acres of impeccably manicured gardens. Explore the property and you’ll find one family-friendly pool and one adult-only pool, a fitness center, and a spa. With so many cool amenities, you’ll never want to leave this incredible hotel!

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11. Simpson House Inn

The Simpson House Inn is the perfect pick if you’re planning a romantic retreat or a relaxing getaway. This quaint bed and breakfast is housed in an 1874 Victorian mansion and is surrounded by one acre of beautiful English gardens. 

Each of the 15 rooms, suites, and cottages is totally unique and is adorned with antique furniture, comfy beds, and hardwood floors. Most are outfitted with wood-burning stone fireplaces, wet bars, and coffee makers. If you’re celebrating a special occasion, the Carriage House Suites are well worth splurging on for their spacious sitting areas and private decks.    

In the morning, you can enjoy a complimentary gourmet vegetarian breakfast in the main house or have it delivered to your room. The staff also sets up an all-day beverage buffet and afternoon refreshments. And you won’t want to miss out on the free wine tasting and hors d’oeuvres, served every evening!

You might feel like you’re in your own private oasis but this B&B is located right in the heart of historic Santa Barbara and a breezy 10-minute drive from the beach.

12. Haley Hotel

Best Santa Barbara Hotels: Haley Hotel
Photos: Haley Hotel

The Haley Hotel is one of the best boutique hotels in Santa Barbara if you want to be right in the heart of the action. State Street, the beach, and the Funk Zone are all just a short walk away. Plus, this hotel is pet-friendly so you can travel with your furry friends! 

Each of the 17 stylish rooms is outfitted with nautically themed decor, original art by local artists, and modern ensuites. The flat-screens are equipped with Rokus so you can keep up with your favorite Netflix shows during your trip. 

You’ll love the unique outdoor spaces. You can take a nap in the padded hammock, warm up around the fire pit, or play a game of chess on the giant chessboard. In true Santa Barbara fashion, there’s even a sandy hangout area on the terrace. 

Before you head out for the day you can grab a cup of local coffee, a freshly baked pastry, and organic fruit in the lobby. While there isn’t an onsite restaurant, some of Santa Barbara’s best restaurants and bars are right outside your door!

That’s it – 12 of the best Santa Barbara hotels! Did we miss any cool boutique hotels in Santa Barbara? Comment below so we can add them to the list!

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