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15 Best Hotels In Santa Barbara: Where To Stay In 2023

15 Best Hotels In Santa Barbara: Where To Stay In 2023

Are you looking for the very best hotels in Santa Barbara? We’re going to show you the top rated cheap, mid range and luxury hotels in Santa Barbara, including West Beach, Downtown and Upper State Street so you can make the most informed decision on exactly where to stay.

Instead of trawling through endless randomly listed hotel search engine results, use our research and data driven guide to find the best hotels in Santa Barbara for your visit based on location, value, previous guest ratings and our own experiences.

Santa Barbara is ritzy, luxurious and exceptionally attractive. It is home to a magnificent food and wine scene, it is on the beach and it has near perfect weather. There’s a reason Santa Barbara is known as the American Riviera.

Here’s how we will break down the best hotels in Santa Barbara to help you find the perfect place to stay:

  • What sort of prices can you expect in Santa Barbara?
  • Where to stay in Santa Barbara by area
  • Best hotels in each area
  • Top hotels for couples and families

Let’s find the perfect hotel for your trip to Santa Barbara, California!

*Please note this guide contains affiliate links. If you click on one, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting the free content we provide! Read more in our disclosure policy.*

Are Hotels In Santa Barbara Expensive?

Let’s start by making it clear that hotels in Santa Barbara on the whole are above average in price. It is important to manage your budget expectations before looking at costs.

This is a hugely desirable and glamorous destination, it is in California and it is on the coast. A lot of wealthy people live, work and have vacation homes in Santa Barbara.

Just look at Meghan and Harry.

If you’re just taking a quick break in Santa Barbara, the high average nightly cost for hotel rooms might not be too much of an issue.

However, if you’re driving the Pacific Coast Highway and you have 10-14 nights booked in hotels, you should plan to allocate more money to your stay in Santa Barbara.

Are you driving the Pacific Coast Highway? Read our popular guide to the 23 best stops between San Francisco and San Diego on our travel site Where Are Those Morgans.

“Bed Tax”

One thing you should bear in mind when booking any hotels in Santa Barbara is “Bed Tax”, which is officially known as Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT).

Santa Barbara County levies 12% bed tax on all stays, no matter how you book your hotel room.

Let’s say a room costs $300 for one night in Santa Barbara, your total cost is going to be $336.

When booking your hotel using Booking.com, look underneath the price for “includes taxes and fees“. This means the price you see is final and will not be subject to further add ons.

Woman standing on pier with turquoise water
Kristen enjoying the sun on Santa Barbara Pier

Are There Any Cheap Hotels In Santa Barbara?

Yes, you can definitely stay in cheap hotels in Santa Barbara at around $150 per night if you’re trying to keep costs down. Yes, $150 is as cheap as it gets here!

If you’re only interested in cheap Santa Barbara hotels, you should start your search on Upper State Street, well away from the beach.

However, we still recommend checking prices near the beach to see if there’s a surprise in store.

How To Find Cheaper Hotels

Here’s a good general rule of thumb to use when searching for hotels in Santa Barbara:

  • Closer to the beach – more expensive hotels.
  • Further back from the beach – cheaper hotels.

This won’t always be the case and there are of course exceptions, but it is a guideline to get you started.

The typical budget hotel chains like Quality Inn and Motel 6 are located on Upper State Street but they have indifferent guest reviews.

Our top tip for finding cheap hotels in Santa Barbara is to visit between October and March when prices are much lower, sometimes even half the price of peak season.

What Can You Expect From The Best Hotels In Santa Barbara?

What we love most about lodging in Santa Barbara is its distinct lack of generic chain hotels like you see in most US cities.

Here in Santa Barbara you can expect beautiful inns serving up delicious homemade breakfasts, high quality motels and luxury boutique hotels.

As mentioned earlier, hotels in Santa Barbara are on the expensive side. But they are also way above average in quality and service provided.

Where To Stay In Santa Barbara By Area

The first step to finding the best hotel for your Santa Barbara vacation is to make sure you are staying in the right area for your travel goals and your budget.

Here are the 3 most popular areas to stay in Santa Barbara, CA:

  1. West Beach – Long stretch covering most Santa Barbara hotels on the beach and Lower State
  2. Downtown – Broad area including surrounding neighborhoods of Oak Park and Laguna
  3. Upper State Street – Further from the beach, where to stay on a budget

Hotels in West Beach Santa Barbara are very highly rated and we have a huge cluster of excellent options for you to stay near the beach.

Our list of hotels in Downtown Santa Barbara are also reviewed incredibly well, but here you are closer to the main shopping, dining and nightlife areas.

Upper State Street is where you will find the more affordable and budget friendly hotels in Santa Barbara.

OK, let’s dive into the 20 best hotels in Santa Barbara, California spread throughout the most popular areas!

1. West Beach

If you’re only interested in staying at a hotel on the beach in Santa Barbara, look no further than West Beach.

This area encompasses Santa Barbara City College, Santa Barbara Harbor, Stearns Wharf and of course the beach itself.

There are around 15 or so hotels in a small area within easy walking distance to the beach and we are going to cover your top rated options below.

Don’t want to walk all the way to Downtown Santa Barbara for breakfast, lunch or dinner?

Not to worry, you have plenty of top rated eateries around West Beach and adjoining Lower State.

West Beach in Santa Barbara sandy beach leading to Pacific Ocean
West Beach in Santa Barbara

Top Rated Places To Eat Around West Beach

Things To Do In West Beach

Who Should Stay In West Beach?

  • Families
  • Couples
  • Those looking to splurge
  • Anyone seeking a luxurious vacation
  • Those in search of relaxation

Best Santa Barbara West Beach Hotels

West Beach has the highest concentration of top rated hotels by thousands of previous guests on both Booking.com and Google.

If you’re staying in Santa Barbara for three or more nights, we definitely recommend booking a hotel here in West Beach where it is calm and peaceful.

Here are the top rated cheap, mid range and luxury hotels in West Beach Santa Barbara with previous guest ratings, price, amenities, parking and the highest category score from Booking.com reviews.

1. Castillo Inn

Guest ratings:

  • Booking.com – 8.8 / 10
  • Google – 4.4 / 5
Castillo Inn by the Beach one of the best budget hotels in west beach Santa Barbara at dusk
Photo courtesy of Castillo Inn
  • Price: Cheap $
  • Amenities: WiFi, several room types, suites with kitchen for families or longer stays
  • Parking: Free
  • Highest Score: Location

Castillo Inn is a highly rated hotel one block from the beach with free parking. This is the cheapest hotel you will find close to the beach in Santa Barbara.

If you’re trying to save money on a longer road trip and you want to stay by the beach in Santa Barbara, definitely check out the prices here at Castillo Inn.

Book Hotel: Castillo Inn

2. Marina Beach Motel

Guest ratings:

  • Booking.com – 9.0 / 10
  • Google – 4.6 / 5
Motel at dusk with flowers and trees
Photo courtesy of Marina Beach Motel
  • Price: Cheap $
  • Amenities: WiFi, pet friendly, free breakfast, free bike rentals, free all day coffee
  • Parking: Free
  • Highest Score: Staff + Location

Marina Beach Motel is another fantastic option for those who are looking for cheap Santa Barbara hotels located next to the beach. This one has the best previous guest rating in this price category.

All scores on Booking.com are high, with staff and location top. The breakfast is basic but it’s enough for a great start on the day, plus free bike rentals is a nice touch for guests. Highly recommend.

Book Hotel: Marina Beach Motel

3. Harbor House Inn

Guest ratings:

  • Booking.com – 9.5 / 10
  • Google – 4.8 / 5
California coast buildings with tall trees on the roadside
Photo courtesy of Harbor House Inn
  • Price: Mid Range $$
  • Amenities: WiFi, free bike rentals, complimentary beach going gear, wide range of room types including units with kitchens
  • Parking: Free
  • Highest Score: Staff + Location

Harbor House Inn is a wonderful boutique hotel located just one block from West Beach Santa Barbara. The price here begins to climb a little, but it is still cheap for the area.

Harbor House Inn has fewer overall reviews than others in the area. But scores so far on both Google and Booking rank it as one of the top choices in the city with rave reviews about attention to detail and cleanliness. Highly recommend.

Book Hotel: Harbor House Inn

4. The Eagle Inn

Guest ratings:

  • Booking.com – 9.0 / 10
  • Google – 4.8 / 5
The Eagle Inn Hotels in Santa Barbara at night lights on by the roadside
Photo courtesy of The Eagle Inn
  • Price: Mid Range $$
  • Amenities: WiFi, free hot breakfast, free bike rentals, homemade cookies
  • Parking: Free
  • Highest Score: Location, Cleanliness + Comfort

The Eagle Inn is another top rated B&B hotel option near West Beach. This one is two blocks from the sand and offers free bike rentals. Most reviewers remark on staff friendliness here.

One of the bigger draws for The Eagle Inn is its popular breakfast offering of eggs and fresh organic fruit. It is a popular choice and one of the best hotels in Santa Barbara for price vs location vs ratings.

Book Hotel: The Eagle Inn

5. La Playa Inn

Guest ratings:

  • Booking.com – 9.2 / 10
  • Google – 4.8 / 5
White painted building with yellow lit up letters at dusk La Playa one of the top hotels in Santa Barbara CA
Photo courtesy of La Playa Inn
  • Price: Mid Range $$
  • Amenities: WiFi, good room selection, free continental breakfast
  • Parking: Free
  • Highest Score: Cleanliness + Comfort

La Playa Inn is ranked as the best hotel in Santa Barbara on Booking.com after 1,500+ guest reviews. It is located one block from West Beach and overlooks a park.

The Spanish Colonial architecture is stunning and reviewers are endlessly impressed by the overall experience at La Playa Inn. At the mid range budget price point, we would suggest starting here.

Book Hotel: La Playa Inn

6. Santa Barbara Inn

Guest ratings:

  • Booking.com – 8.9 / 10
  • Google – 4.5 / 5
Santa Barbara Inn highly rated place to stay near east beach at dusk with blue sky
Photo courtesy of Santa Barbara Inn
  • Price: Expensive $$$
  • Amenities: WiFi, outdoor pool and hot tub, restaurant and bar, fitness center
  • Parking: $25 per day
  • Highest Score: Comfort + Cleanliness

The Santa Barbara Inn is an elegant Mediterranean style boutique hotel located in East Beach, which is one mile from the Santa Barbara Pier and West Beach.

This hotel feels more like a resort than others along the beach and it is located just a stones throw from the sand. It is one of the pricier hotels near the ocean, but it is cheaper than top rated hotels downtown.

Book Hotel: Santa Barbara Inn

2. Downtown Santa Barbara

If you’re looking to be in the heart of the action in Santa Barbara, you should stay in the Downtown area.

Downtown is essentially either side of State Street as it cuts northwest from the beach towards the mountains.

It is a long but narrow area where you will find the most amount of shopping, restaurants, bars and cafes in Santa Barbara.

Downtown is a the best place to stay in Santa Barbara if you’re more interested in socializing, remotely working in cafes, shopping in independent stores and drinking copious amounts of locally produced wine.

Paseo Nuevo shopping area arch way leading to outdoor shops in Santa Barbara California
Paseo Nuevo shopping and dining area of Downtown Santa Barbara

Top Rated Places To Eat Around Downtown Santa Barbara

Things To Do In Downtown Santa Barbara

Who Should Stay In Downtown Santa Barbara?

  • Solo travelers
  • Groups of friends
  • Business travelers
  • Those who want it a bit more lively

Best Hotels In Downtown Santa Barbara

Hotel prices in Downtown Santa Barbara are extremely competitive and fair for the desirable central location.

If you’re planning a weekend break with friends to Santa Barbara, we would recommend staying in Downtown so you’re close to the food, drink and atmosphere.

Here are the top rated cheap, mid range and luxury hotels in Downtown Santa Barbara with previous guest ratings.

7. Bath Street Inn

Guest ratings:

  • Booking.com – 8.9 / 10
  • Google – 4.7 / 5
Hotel guest suite bedroom big bed with cream covers Bath Street Inn Santa Barbara
Photo courtesy of Bath Street Inn
  • Price: Cheap $
  • Amenities: WiFi, gourmet breakfast included, wine and cheese social hour, evening desserts
  • Parking: Free
  • Highest Score: Staff

Bath Street Inn is a charming bed and breakfast offering a fantastic breakfast, plus plenty of additional treats throughout the day. This is a place for foodies to stay in Santa Barbara!

It is just three blocks from the inn to State Street, but it is the wrong side of State Street for easy access to the beach. This is an affordable family style B&B in Santa Barbara.

If you prefer to avoid hotels, get to know some locals and meet other travelers in a more social setting, and you are traveling on a lower budget, this could be the ideal option.

Book Hotel: Bath Street Inn

8. De La Vina Inn

Guest ratings:

  • Booking.com – 8.8 / 10
  • Google – 4.7 / 5
Lounge with chairs and sofa next to fire
Photo courtesy of De La Vina Inn
  • Price: Cheap $
  • Amenities: WiFi, communal gardens, shared lounge
  • Parking: Free
  • Highest Score: Location

De La Vina Inn offers something a little different for visitors to Santa Barbara. This is a historic three story building with several guest rooms, but with no on site staff or breakfast. The house inn also caters to weddings.

It is just two blocks to State Street and the theaters, plus it has lovely communal gardens for guests to share. This one is best for independent travelers who don’t want to stay in traditional hotels.

Book Hotel: De La Vina Inn

9. Cheshire Cat Inn

Guest ratings:

  • Booking.com – 9.3 / 10
  • Google – 4.7 / 5
California coast buildings exterior with trees at twilight
Photo courtesy of Cheshire Cat Inn
  • Price: Mid Range $$
  • Amenities: WiFi, several room types, suites with kitchen for families or longer stays.
  • Parking: Free
  • Highest Score: Staff, Comfort + Cleanliness

The Cheshire Cat Inn and Cottages is an elegant and romantic bed and breakfast in Santa Barbara. Guests will find an Alice in Wonderland theme inspired by the English county Cheshire.

Traditional guest rooms or private cottages are available in this top rated Santa Barbara inn located steps from State Street. Prices are fair for the location in downtown Santa Barbara.

Book Hotel: Cheshire Cat Inn

10. Simpson House Inn

Guest ratings:

  • Booking.com – 9.5 / 10
  • Google – 4.8 / 5
Low rise building with enormous tree and branches under sunlight with green vegetation Simpson House Inn one of the best Santa Barbara hotels downtown
Photo courtesy of Simpson House Inn
  • Price: Expensive $$$
  • Amenities: WiFi, breakfast served by gourmet chef, free appetizer buffet and wine tasting daily, free bike rentals
  • Parking: Free
  • Highest Score: Staff, Comfort, Cleanliness + Location

Simpson House Inn is a Victorian bed and breakfast built in 1874 surrounded by landscaped gardens and city parks. Guests can choose to have breakfast served to the room or on the grounds.

Reviews are near perfect, with particular emphasis on the quality of staff and how relaxing the garden areas feel. The price is certainly higher here, but it is reflected in the overall experience.

Book Hotel: Simpson House Inn

11. Palihouse Santa Barbara

Guest ratings:

  • Booking.com – 8.8 / 10
  • Google – 4.7 / 5
Guest room at Palihouse Santa Barbara plush suite with two double beds tiled floor and beams on roof very expensive downtown hotel option
Photo courtesy of Palihouse
  • Price: Expensive $$$
  • Amenities: WiFi, swimming pool, fitness center, restaurant and bar with happy hour, pet friendly, certain rooms have kitchenettes, free bike rentals
  • Parking: Free
  • Highest Score: Comfort + Cleanliness

Palihouse is a fantastic upscale choice among Downtown Santa Barbara hotels. This hidden away hotel just three blocks from the center of State Street features a small swimming pool and it is pet friendly.

The scores for this place would (and probably should!) be higher, but there is no breakfast included and that is the standout negative here. It is more expensive too.

Book Hotel: Palihouse Santa Barbara

3. Upper State Street

If you’re traveling on a strict budget you should look closely at the Upper State Street area because it is generally the cheapest place to stay in Santa Barbara.

This area might work better for those driving the Pacific Coast Highway with a dozen or so hotels to book.

We know how expensive it can be to stay in two weeks worth of hotels on the California coast!

You will be further from the restaurants of Downtown and the beach at West Beach but you can always spend the whole day in both those areas before returning to your hotel later that night.

Plaque dedicated to Santa Barbara residents who worked on building planes in 1900's
Interesting plaque dedicated to a resident of Santa Barbara working on planes in the early 1900’s

Top Rated Places To Eat On Upper State Street

Things To Do On Upper State Street

Who Should Stay On Upper State Street?

  • Budget travelers
  • Those who want to be away from the crowds
  • Anyone not fussed about the beach

Best Hotels On Upper State Street

It goes without saying that budget hotels come at the expense of quality and luxury amenities. But they are perfect for those who just want a bed to sleep in and a no frills stay.

Here are the top rated cheap, mid range and luxury hotels in the Upper State Street area of Santa Barbara with previous guest ratings.

12. Oasis Inn & Suites

Guest ratings:

  • Booking.com – 7.7 / 10
  • Google – 3.8 / 5
Small swimming pool with low buildings behind at twilight in California
Photo courtesy of Oasis Inn & Suites
  • Price: Very Cheap $
  • Amenities: WiFi, swimming pool
  • Parking: Free
  • Highest Score: Staff

Oasis Inn & Suites is a no frills budget hotel located on Upper State Street. Rooms vary in size with enough beds to cater for two to five people so it is family friendly.

This is the cheapest hotel with a decent overall guest rating in Santa Barbara. Just don’t go in expecting the Ritz Carlton and you’ll be fine here!

Book Hotel: Oasis Inn & Suites

13. Lemon Tree Inn

Guest ratings:

  • Booking.com – 7.6 / 10
  • Google – 4.0 / 5
Swimming pool and sun loungers surrounding with trees on a sunny day
Photo courtesy of Lemon Tree Inn
  • Price: Cheap $
  • Amenities: WiFi, on site restaurant and bar, swimming pool, safe
  • Parking: Free
  • Highest Score: Staff

Lemon Tree Inn ups the price slightly but that also ups the quality in turn. The on site Californian restaurant called Crocodile gets a lot of plaudits from reviews staying here.

With a large swimming pool and sun bathing area, plus the location close to The Mission and easier access to the long State Street walk to the beach makes this a solid budget hotels in Santa Barbara option.

Book Hotel: Lemon Tree Inn

14. Agave Inn

Guest ratings:

  • Booking.com – 8.5 / 10
  • Google – 4.3 / 5
Lovely guest rooms at Agave one of the top rated cheap hotels in Santa Barbara California two queen beds with white sheets and tv on the wall
Photo courtesy of Agave Inn
  • Price: Cheap $
  • Amenities: WiFi, certain rooms have kitchenettes, family rooms available
  • Parking: Free
  • Highest Score: Staff

Agave Inn is one of the best hotels in Santa Barbara in terms of quality vs price and previous guest ratings on both Google and Booking.

It is out of the way on State Street and it doesn’t have breakfast or a pool. But it does have clean rooms, comfortable beds and nice finishing touches.

The price is higher for this traditionally cheaper area on Upper State Street but it is still cheaper on average than hotels in Downtown or West Beach. Highly recommend.

Book Hotel: Agave Inn

Bonus Santa Barbara Hotel

Our fifteenth and final entry of the best hotels in Santa Barbara comes in the form of pure luxury and class.

This high end hotel is made for those looking for the ultimate escape from life.

15. El Encanto

Guest ratings:

  • Booking.com – 9.1 / 10
  • Google – 4.6 / 5
El Encanto by Belmond 5 star luxury hotel in the hills outside of Santa Monica drone photo of the complex at sunset
Photo courtesy of El Encanto
  • Price: Very Expensive $$$$
  • Amenities: WiFi, pet friendly, swimming pool, spa, fitness and wellness center, on site restaurant and bar, ocean views, fireplaces in room
  • Parking: $40 per day
  • Highest Score: Location

El Encanto by Belmond is a 5-star luxury boutique hotel located in a private hillside setting overlooking downtown Santa Barbara and the Pacific Ocean. This is where you get the celebrity treatment in SB!

If you’re truly looking for the best hotels in Santa Barbara, this is right up there as a top choice. The top quality facilities, friendly staff and high class experience provided for guests is only scuppered by a price to match.

We say if you can afford to pay the prices here and you don’t mind being away from the busier beach or downtown areas, there’s no better place to stay in Santa Barbara.

Book Hotel: El Encanto

Best Cheap Hotels In Santa Barbara

Are you traveling on a low budget?

Well, you’ll only be interested in cheapest hotels in Santa Barbara, so let’s take a look at the top rated places to stay for the least amount of money:

Best Luxury 5 Star Hotels In Santa Barbara

Are you looking to splurge on your California coast vacation?

Well, it’s certainly very easy to splash the cash on accommodation here, so let’s take a look at the best hotels in Santa Barbara for luxury!

Best Beachfront Hotels In Santa Barbara

Do you want a beachfront escape?

You’re in luck, there are dozens of top rated beachfront hotels right on the coastline, so let’s take a look at the best hotels in Santa Barbara on the beach.

Best Hotels For Families In Santa Barbara

Are you looking for the most family friendly hotels in Santa Barbara?

We would recommend heading for the beach so you’re close to the ocean with plenty of great places to eat. You will avoid the busier areas in Downtown and the louder area of Upper State Street.

Let’s take a look at the best hotels in Santa Barbara for families:

Our Most Popular Hotel Guides
Top Hotels In Places Near Santa Barbara
We hope this guide to the best Santa Barbara hotels helps you book the perfect hotel for your California vacation!

Please let us know if you have any questions about any of our best hotels in Santa Barbara in the comments below.

Happy Booking,

Mark and Kristen
Best Hotels Anywhere