Santa Barbara has long drawn comparisons to France’s flashy Côte d’Azur, thanks no doubt to its dazzling combination of mountains, sea, and sand. This year, despite grappling with fires and floods, the American Riviera may well outshine its European counterpart, as a host of new hotels and resorts open along the central California city’s breezy shores.
Set just off the wharf of Santa Barbara’s buzzy Funk Zone, the Hotel Californian first opened in 1925 but was forced to shutter just one week later when an earthquake damaged the property. Nearly a century later, the hotel has at last been reborn, this time with stylish Martyn Lawrence Bullard–designed interiors featuring a mix of clean lines and playful Moorish accents. A splashy rooftop pool and bar crowns the 121-room hotel—and it offers some of the city’s best views of the Santa Ynez Mountains and Pacific Ocean.
Up the coast, the Bacara Resort & Spa—long a favorite weekend escape for overworked Angelenos—has also been given a new lease on life, becoming the Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara last fall after a multi-million-dollar renovation and refresh. The 78-acre oceanfront resort has a new California-cool design in its 358 rooms and suites, and guests can unwind on the private beach, with a glass of wine from the property’s 12,000-bottle-deep cellar, or head to the sprawling, 42,000-square-foot spa complete with an adults-only pool.
Later this year, Santa Barbara will see its most ambitious new opening yet with the arrival of the Rosewood Miramar Beach Montecito. A reinvention of the city’s beloved Miramar Beach Hotel by the beloved hospitality brand and Caruso (the star Los Angeles–based developer behind the Grove) the chic resort will evoke a true sense of American Riviera glamour with its charming garden and oceanfront bungalows, two palm-tree-lined swimming pools, and members-only Miramar Beach Club.