An April 2004 trip
to Santa Barbara by SFPhotocraft
Quote: On the way to LA we stopped for quick overnight in Santa Barbara. We had dinner and a night's stay. Nothing much, but Santa Barbara is always worth the stop.
Santa Barbara is a California jewel that lies about an hour and half from Los Angeles and is a scenic drive up the coast. At times 101 hugs the California coastline.
Santa Barbara seems to be the perfect town. It's not too big but big enough to have most of the major-city amenities. It's been home to everyone from the Reagans to Michael Jackson. People flock here to visit or live because of the near-perfect Mediterranean climate and upscale lifestyle.
Santa Barbara started as one of the California mission stops along the coast. Today you can still visit the historic Santa Barbara mission. The town still has a feel of the Spanish influence here. Santa Barbara has strict building codes and even new buildings feel historic.
Santa Barbara is a college town and during the school year has that college town beat. State Street is lined with bars and clubs and students who are not hitting the books frequent this area. It's young and hip and feels fun.
The town is a mix of everyone. It also has its fair share of free spirits. On this trip we were walking State Street and a young lady in costume was belly dancing down the street. Besides the rich and the famous, Santa Barbara does have a growing homeless and panhandling problem. As in most beach cities, it's advisable to pay attention and stay around people.
Santa Barbara is fun. It's an easy day trip up from LA, but there is so much to see and do here that I suggest you spend at least a weekend.
Once in Santa Barbara, you need only to walk 1 block, and here you can rent a bike or a small electric car about the size of a golf cart. You can get to the beach from here or up to State Street to shop. It's a fun day trip, and you can catch a 7pm train back to Los Angeles. What could be more fun?
If you arrive without a car, you many want to consider renting an electric car. There are several locations on the beach that rent these cars. Some even look like mini Hummers!
Parking is easy, but be warned that on a weekend traffic can be bad. Often driving back to LA on a Sunday night can be bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Hotel | "Holiday Inn Express"
The first room we were offered was about the size of a postage stamp. . . it was smaller than tiny! We went back to the front desk to ask for a new room. A family of four and luggage could barely fit into this closet. The front desk employee seemed put out that we would want to switch rooms. After some grunts and groans he moved us to another room, which was larger. It was on the first floor and you had to go thru the parking garage and back door to get to the room. It didn't feel very safe at night as it was poorly lit and away from street activety, it was like going through a dark alley to get to your room. They entire front wall of this room was a big pane of glass that was on street level to Haley Street , it also had a bolted shut glass door. I assume at one time the room may have been an office or a shop. It was like being in the window at Macy's when the curtains were opened. The location picked up all the street noise and was extermely noisy. All night long as someone walked down the street it sounded like they were in the room. The room was long and narrow and very odd shaped. The bathroom was okay, but a bit small.
The staff was okay, but not very friendly. The hotel seemed a bit understaffed. Only one person was ever working the front desk and we had lines at check-in and check-out.
I have read another poster who liked this hotel. However in reading his review I noted he had a room on an upper floor. I think our expierence would have been better if our room was not so odd. A decent sized room on an upper floor would have been fine.
The pluses are that a nice breakfast is included in the price and the location is great -- right off State Street. The lobby is cheerful, but the rest of the hotel is depressing. I will not stay here again. There are a lot of choices here and this one was not a good pick for our family.
Member Rating 1 out of 5 on April 18, 2004
Hotel Virginia - Holiday Inn Express Downtown
17 WEST HALEY STREET
Santa Barbara, California 93101
Hotel | "Four Seasons Biltmore"
The hotel is the historic Biltmore Hotel from the 1920s. It sits across the street from the Pacfic Ocean and is a village of white washed stucco buildings with colorful buganvilla draping down the sides. It feels like a quaint village somwhere in the Meditrean.
Four Season's took over the hotel some years ago and upgraded the amenties to it's high standards. When you enter the lobby, there are fresh orchids, soft music, cushy furntiure and views of the ocean. The hotel has a high ratio of employess to guests.
The hotel has two pools, one is a more active, smaller pool with food service and active bar, the other is across the street and is a more serious pool in the waterfront casino. The hotel also has putting greens, croquet lawn, spa and serious workout room.
There are a variety of room options here. The standard rooms start at $600. However, the more deluxe rooms with fireplaces go for $750 per night, and the cottages go for even more. The hotel seldom has available rooms, espcially on the weekends--even at those rates!
This is the perfect venue to have your wedding, broad lawns, secret courtyards and a setting a photographer fall in love with.
The hotel is family and pet-friendly. They have a great kids' program and a parents' night out program, where kids eat and watch a movie with other "kid" guests. They even offer kid sized bathrobes in the room!
The Biltmore is pure luxury and pure perfection. The hotel makes you feel like you just want to stay and never leave--it doesn't get much better than this!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 22, 2005
The Biltmore Santa Barbara, a Four Seasons Resort
1260 Channel Drive
Santa Barbara 93108
The menu has all the good meat cuts on it. On Tuesdays, they run an all you can eat rib special, which is VERY popular, so popular that by 7:30pm on this night, they had RUN OUT! How can you have an all you can eat special and run out of the item by 7:30pm! The food we did get was VERY good. The steaks are all top-grade.
Our waitress was friendly and took good care of our table. However, the food was VERY slow (over 50 minutes from ordering to getting) -- this was the kitchen's fault and not the waitress's, who seemed very apologetic over the long wait for the food. However, once it came it was worth the wait and the price!
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 18, 2004
512 State Street
Santa Barbara, California 93101
Thankfully, I can say it only got better! This is the quintsesional brunch. My only dissappointment this day was requesting an outdoor table at the time of reservations and the maitre'de not being able to fufill my request. Brunch is served in three areas, the outside patio with a lovely view of the sea, the enclosed patio with a limited view, (We ate here, but had no view, due to being stuck behind a bus station) or inside which would only be desired during foul weather.
Once seated champagne is served to you immediately. A harp is playing and a feeling of elegance embraces you. What is California without a star sighting - today we had Ryan Seacrest at the next table!
The food tables are overwhelming. My favorite is the caviar station, with four kinds of caviar and all the fixings. There is also crab, shrimp, oysters, eggs, sushi, salads, meats and much, much more. The kids have a special area with a low table, just their size.
Please make sure you leave room for dessert. The dessert area is filled with delcious goodies. However the most outrageous is a WIlly Wonka style chocolate fountain that flows lucious chocolate. You can choose fruit, berries or marshmallows on sticks and let the chocolate flow over your treat. It's outrageous!
This brunch costs $62 for adults and $25 for childern. It's worth every penny. They do add an 18% gratiuty on the bill, which I found a little high for a buffet. The wait staff was great, but all they have to do is clear plates and fill champagne glasses.
After dinner you can stroll the grounds, there is a lush lawn, putting greens, croquet and blooming gardens. The brunch was every bit as perfect as I remembered it and I can't wait to go back again!
The Patio at the Hotel Biltmore
1260 Channel Drive
Santa Barbara, California