Santa Barbara boutique hotels make up some of the best stays to grace the California Central Coast. If you’re looking for a destination in itself that evokes a sense of place rather than just a place to stay, then read on!
Any hotel chain can put up a building to spend the night in. But if you’re looking for a memorable, one-of-a-kind experience with a personal touch and local color, these Santa Barbara boutique hotels are a great place to start your search.
Every aspect of this guide has been personally researched and assembled by Lori and me, two West Coast natives with a deep love for the Central Coast. Expect to discover insights you won’t find on the many algorithmically-generated best-of lists out there.
In short, if we were planning our own unforgettable stay in Santa Barbara right now, this would be our shortlist.
If you’re planning your own Central Coast escape, you’re sure to find something to love in one of the Santa Barbara boutique hotels below.
So pack your fun bag and let’s get to it!
In a hurry? Here’s a quick look at our picks to get you started
- El Encanto
- Santa Barbara Inn
- Palihouse Santa Barbara
- Rosewood Miramar Beach
- Kimpton Canary Hotel
- Simpson House Inn
- The Upham Hotel
- Brisas Del Mar Inn at the Beach
Read on for all the details and get ready for fun in the California sun!
Best Boutique Hotels in Santa Barbara
Picking the perfect stay in Santa Barbara will be easy with our handcrafted guide to the best Santa Barbara boutique hotels (arranged in no particular order – they’re all fabulous, so pick what speaks to you).
NEAR MISSION SANTA BARBARA ▪ 5-STAR HOTEL ▪ HISTORIC PROPERTY
Incomparable El Encanto is the first choice of guests looking for luxury, amenities, and a stunning hilltop location in the heart of the American Riviera.
The historic property and breathtaking ocean views have captured the hearts of visitors to the Central Coast for decades.
Of the boutique hotels making our list, it might just be the farthest from the water. But chances are you probably won’t care much while you’re taking in the commanding Pacific views from high above this stunning city.
- Spectacular Pacific and city views
- Forbes Five-Star luxury hotel
- Top-rated staff and service
- Full service spa
- 7-acres of landscaped gardens
- Top pick for romantic getaway
- Outdoor zero-edge pool with views
- 2 restaurants on-site
- Free beach shuttle
- Close to Old Mission Santa Barbara
- 10-15 minute drive to Stearns Wharf & Historic Downtown (free beach shuttle)
- Some rooms are a long walk with many stairs (request accessible rooms in advance)
ROOM TIPS ▸ El Encanto can book up quick. If you have specific dates in mind, make sure you book plenty in advance. Rooms on the upper floors tend to be the most peaceful and private, but might not be ideal for those with mobility challenges.
Santa Barbara Inn
EAST BEACH ▪ 4-STAR HOTEL ▪ MEDITERRANEAN STYLE
Located right on the Santa Barbara waterfront and a five minute drive from Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara Inn is our top choice for visitors who want excellent service and amenities within steps of the water and close to the heart of the action.
Enjoy stunning ocean sunsets or mountain sunrises from your private balcony (in select rooms).
Santa Barbara Inn offers Italian dining in the onsite restaurant, as well as a wide variety of international cuisine a short walk north on Milpas Street.
- Steps away from the beach
- Outdoor pool & hot tub
- Close to Stearns Wharf & Downtown
- Private parking with in-and-out privileges
- On-site restaurant
- One of the best values on our list
- Hotel is set back behind the main road
- Ocean view rooms overlook pool and restaurant
- Parking costs extra
ROOM TIP ▸ Sea-facing rooms tend to have the best views but there can be a bit of noise from the restaurant and pool. Mountain-facing rooms tend to be a bit quieter. Street parking is available if you don’t mind walking a little.
Palihouse Santa Barbara
HISTORIC PRESIDIO NEIGHBORHOOD (DOWNTOWN) ▪ 4-STAR ▪ BICYCLES & EV CHARGING STATION
One of the best authentically boutique hotels in Santa Barbara, Palihouse Santa Barbara, wows visitors with an enticing mix of historic charm and urban sophistication that few stays in town can match.
Nestled in the heart of Santa Barbara’s historic Presidio neighborhood, Palihouse offers 24 unique and artfully decorated guest rooms set around a Mediterranean-style courtyard.
Relax poolside or at the casual outdoor cafe, take a stroll around the charming and historic neighborhood, or head further afield for more fun in the sun.
- Intimate upmarket boutique feel
- Outdoor pool
- Warm, casual, and unpretentious
- Centrally located in the historic Presidio neighborhood
- 3 blocks to State Street and a short drive to Stearns Wharf
- Studio rooms with kitchenette available
- Underground parking garage
- No ocean views
- Garage can fill up pretty fast
- Rooms near the courtyard and pool can sometimes be louder than others
- Second floor might not be best for guests with mobility challenges (no elevator)
ROOM TIP ▸ The quietest rooms face away from the main courtyard. For extended stays and more space, book a studio room.
Rosewood Miramar Beach
MIRAMAR BEACH (MONTECITO) ▪ 5-STAR HOTEL ▪ SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE
Located just east of town on an absolutely stunning piece of real estate, the 5-star beachfront Rosewood Miramar Beach serves up high luxury in the heart of the American Riviera.
Recognized by top travel magazines as one of the best stays in the U.S., Rosewood Miramar Beach draws guests back again and again with style, sophistication, and stunning beauty.
Committed to a personalized approach to service and sustainable approach to their business, Miramar Beach is a perfect destination for visitors looking forward to indulging in quality beach time, world-class cuisine, or some serious pampering.
- Incomparable ocean-front Beach House Suites
- Forbes Five-Star Sense Spa
- Top-rated staff & service
- 2 large outdoor pools
- 4 restaurants on-site
- Located a 15-minute drive from downtown
- Some rooms have freeway and train noise
ROOM TIP ▸ Beach House Suites offer amazing views and lots of luxurious amenities, but do get occasional noise from the nearby train tracks. Rooms farthest away from the beach have the most freeway noise. The interior Garden Bungalows might be your best bet for maximum peace and privacy (just make sure to request one that faces away from the main walkways).
Kimpton Canary Hotel
HISTORIC PRESIDIO NEIGHBORHOOD (DOWNTOWN) ▪ 4-STAR ▪ EV CHARGING STATION
Newly-renovated Kimpton Canary Hotel seamlessly marries Spanish-style Old World charm with modern sophistication in the heart of Santa Barbara’s historic Presidio neighborhood.
Meticulously-decorated rooms and suites, rooftop pool with 360-degree views, and a central location make Kimpton Canary Hotel one of the best boutique hotels in Santa Barbara.
- Centrally-located in historic Presidio neighborhood
- Commanding 360-degree views from rooftop
- Heated rooftop pool
- Renovated hotel with history and charm
- Most rooms look into a small inner courtyard or side alley
- Less value for money than other properties on this list
- Not as luxurious as other Kimpton properties
Simpson House Inn
UPPER EAST HISTORIC DISTRICT ▪ 5-STAR HOTEL ▪ ADULTS ONLY B&B
Built in 1874, Simpson House Inn is everything the quintessential boutique hotel in Santa Barbara should be: Historic, yet lovingly updated and maintained with a cozy and personalized touch.
Oh, and let’s not forget the complimentary gourmet breakfast and evening wine tastings.
Simpson House Inn excels at making sure that every detail is well looked after, and guests are no exception. And in fact, few hotel properties in Santa Barbara are rated higher by their guests.
This exceptional adults-only stay in the heart of Santa Barbara is perfect for visitors looking for a one-of-a-kind oasis overflowing with charm and comfort, making Simpson House Inn one of the top Santa Barbara boutique hotels.
- Adults Only (if that’s what you’re looking for)
- Cozy and personal “boutique” feel
- Tranquil, wooded grounds
- Close to historic downtown and Alameda Park
- Free bike rentals
- Complimentary gourmet breakfast
- Evening wine tastings
- Adults Only (not an option if you are traveling with kids)
- 2 miles from beach (no beach views)
- No big resort amenities like pool and spa, but that’s sort of the point
ROOM TIP ▸ Guests rave about the private cottages, if you can snag one.
The Upham Hotel
HISTORIC DOWNTOWN ▪ 4-STAR HOTEL ▪ HISTORIC PROPERTY
Built in 1871, The Upham Hotel is another Victorian bed-and-breakfast stunner and the oldest of the Santa Barbara boutique hotels to make our list.
Situated in historic downtown, The Upham offers comfort, tranquility, and an acre of green space in an urban setting.
Friendly staff, 50 atmospheric rooms loaded with character and history, and an excellent on-site restaurant with welcoming vibe await.
- Oldest continually-operating hotel in Santa Barbara (lots of history)
- Centrally located in the historic area of town
- Private balconies available
- Set among an acre of garden greenery
- Complimentary breakfast & happy hour wine
- A little far from beach and Stearns Wharf
- No ocean views
ROOM TIPS ▸ Parking can sometimes be challenging. There are a handful of spots in the rear of the property and limited street parking. Rooms facing the street tend to be a bit noisier.
Brisas Del Mar Inn at the Beach
NEAR SANTA BARBARA HARBOR ▪ 3.5 STAR HOTEL ▪ EV CHARGING STATION
Last, but certainly not least on our list of best Santa Barbara boutique hotels, Brisas Del Mar Inn at the Beach is an excellent option for those looking for a centrally-located stay just minutes from the beach that won’t break the bank.
This top-rated Mediterranean-style villa is equal parts modern hotel and cozy B&B in a superb location.
While you might not find the quirky and personal touches that characterize the Victorian-era stays above, Inn at the Beach offers tastefully-decorated guest rooms filled with modern amenities, as well as an outdoor pool and hot tub, free bike rentals, and complimentary breakfast.
- Best location for exploring State Street, Stearns Wharf and the main beach
- Complimentary breakfast and free bike rental
- Outdoor pool and hot tub
- An excellent value for the money
- Lacks the character and history of other properties on our list
- No 5-star amenities here, but no 5-star pricing either
ROOM TIPS ▸ This is one of the most popular Santa Barbara boutique hotels, so we recommend booking well in advance. Guests with mobility challenges may want to book a ground floor room (no elevator for upper level).
Santa Barbara Boutique Hotels Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What are the best boutique hotels in Santa Barbara?
There are quite a few excellent Santa Barbara boutique hotels to choose from. Which one is the best will depend on you and what you’re after. Check out our guide to the best boutique hotels in Santa Barbara including everything from luxury hill-top stays to historic B&Bs and more.
Which Santa Barbara boutique hotels are romantic?
Boutique hotels in Santa Barbara make for some of the most romantic stays you’re bound to find on the Central Coast of California. Be sure to check out El Encanto and Rosewood Miramar Beach for over-the-top accommodation (perfect for honeymoons) and Simpson House Inn and The Upham Hotel for evocative Victorian-era romance.
Which boutique hotels in Santa Barbara have a pool?
Several of the best Santa Barbara boutique hotels have a pool. For memorable pool stays, we recommend checking out El Encanto, Santa Barbara Inn, Palihouse, Rosewood Miramar Beach, and Kimpton Canary Hotel. Check out our handcrafted guide for tips and all the details.
Thanks for Reading Our Guide to the Very Best Santa Barbara Boutique Hotels!
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