Found on what’s affectionately known as the American Riviera, Santa Barbara is a glamorous Californian city. A common stop-off for those driving the glitzy coastline, it has strong links with its Spanish colonial heritage, seen through its prolific Mediterranean architecture. With mountains on the one side and beaches on the other, it’s a playground for those who enjoy an outdoorsy lifestyle, paired with access to top restaurants, wineries and a booming arts culture. The area has been placed on Condé Nast Traveler’s Hot List and was voted one of the Best Small Cities in the U.S by the readership.
The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara
Holiday in 78-acres of Pacific side resort, at the Ritz-Carlton’s Santa Barbara address. The hotel has two beaches, three infinity-edge pools, a 42,000-sq-ft spa and five places to eat and drink; Angel Oak serves aged and prime steak cuts and has the deepest cellar in the city, ‘O’ Bar + Kitchen features Latin style sharing plates and market specials, while The Bistro (the hotel’s third main restaurant) focusses on sustainable seafood, with a terrace overlooking the adjacent ocean. Rooms come with sea or garden views and upgraded versions have their own patios complete with fires, private luxury poolside cabanas and two bedrooms.
El Encanto, A Belmond Hotel, Santa Barbara
Run for the hills and you’ll find this Forbes Five-Star luxury hotel up there. It has 92 rooms, including private bungalows. The heated infinity-edged saltwater swimming pool is the ultimate in serenity, with stunning Pacific views (take a look through the hotel’s terrace-based telescope to spot whales and dolphins). An indoor-outdoor restaurant uses fruit, herbs and veg grown in the on-site kitchen garden, cheese made from the resident cow and home-brewed beer and coffee, as well as locally-sourced Santa Barbara delicacies. El Encanto also has a spa, is child and pet friendly and boasts artworks from creators such as Damien Hirst.
Rosewood Miramar Beach
Found in the Montecito area of the city, this is a five-star hotel situated right on the beach — a rarity in Santa Barbara. Guests can arrive in the Rosewood’s chauffeur-driven open-top Rolls Royce — it has a personal touch, as indeed does the entire experience of staying here. The hotel looks more like a lavish New England home than a hotel and the service adds to this vibe. Both adults-only groups and families are catered for, with pools for each. There are outdoor hot tubs, a kids club, beach butlers, ball courts, shuffleboard games, two boutiques (including Gwyneth Paltrow’s goop) and a Sense Spa using local ingredients. Dining options include the popular Malibu Farm.