Santa Barbara/Spanish Garden Inn

Looking for a laid-back, intimate retreat in the heart of Santa Barbara, close to State Street and the historic Presidio District? Luxury boutique Spanish Garden Inn offers 23 deluxe rooms and suites in the former site of the Santa Barbara School of the Arts.

Santa Barbara/Spanish Garden Inn

The Great Depression caused the school to close in 1938. It was soon purchased by a wealthy student then remained vacant until 1997.

Santa Barbara/Spanish Garden Inn

Its current owners (also artists) designed and renovated the property to match the Mediterranean vibe of Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara/Spanish Garden Inn

Open since 2001, the Spanish Garden Inn is filled with colourful, climbing bougainvillea, pretty arches, Spanish style red-tiled buildings and oil paintings and watercolours created by the owners. The property is very inviting with lots of indoor and outdoor seating to relax over a cup of locally-brewed coffee or glass of regional wine.

Santa Barbara/Spanish Garden Inn Santa Barbara/Spanish Garden Inn

Gorgeous foliage seems to pop against the white walls; birds chirp along in the sunshine and you feel instantly transported to an oasis in the city (just three blocks from main thoroughfare State Street).

Santa Barbara/Spanish Garden Inn


Each of the hotel’s rooms and suites contain either a private balcony or cozy garden patio.

Santa Barbara/Spanish Garden Inn

Large Spanish tiles grace the bathroom and parts of the living space. Beautiful paintings depicting various Santa Barbara locations and attractions are on the walls.

The modern, four-poster bed floats in the room with a pair of cozy chairs, a side table and flatscreen TV near the fireplace.

Santa Barbara/Spanish Garden Inn

A large working desk with lots of outlets and USB plugs allows for work with a view (in my case, of the pool and palms).

My top floor room is spacious, has a balcony with table and chairs; off to the side is a Molton Brown diffuser with a few aroma reeds (the hotel proudly displays – and sells – the luxury UK brand in their lobby shop).

Santa Barbara/Spanish Garden Inn

The bathroom has a large soaker tub and separate rainfall shower, cozy Frette® bathrobes, slippers and Molton Brown bath products.

Santa Barbara/Spanish Garden Inn

Modern amenities include 40″ Samsung HDTVs, DirecTV with HBO, Bose/iHome docking stations, French press coffee makers, honor bars, ceiling fans, hairdryers, iron and ironing boards and complimentary WiFi.

Santa Barbara/Spanish Garden Inn

Between 4 and 7 pm, the hotel hosts a daily social hour in the dining room by the lobby with snacks to go along with a glass of wine or beer (happy hour pricing).

An expansive collection of DVDs at the front desk is readily available for movie night, and they’ll send up freshly-popped popcorn if you’d like.

Santa Barbara/Spanish Garden Inn Santa Barbara/Spanish Garden Inn

In the morning, an included deluxe continental breakfast offers homemade pastries, fresh fruit, granola and coffee drinks to start the day.

Santa Barbara/Spanish Garden Inn

The hotel avoids the use of plastic water and amenity bottles — a glass carafe with filtered water is set on the dresser near the French press coffee maker (containing Santa Barbara Roasting Company ground coffee, plus a variety of teas and a water kettle), while Molton Brown London amenities in the bathroom are mounted on the shower wall and in large containers by the sink.

Santa Barbara/Spanish Garden Inn

Spa, Pool, Gym

The Spanish Garden Inn offers a variety of blissful in-room spa treatments, including aromatherapy treatments, stress-melting deep tissue massages, rejuvenating European facials and acupressure services.

Santa Barbara/Spanish Garden Inn

There’s also a heated outdoor lap pool with lounge seating in the center of the property. The fitness center was closed during my visit, housed in a building at the back of the hotel.

Santa Barbara County Courthouse


The Inn is only three blocks from State Street’s shops, cafés, restaurants, Spanish Colonial Revivial style Santa Barbara County Courthouse, El Presidio de Santa Barbara, museums and entertainment, beaches and seven neighbourhood wineries.

Santa Barbara Winery
[Santa Barbara Winery in the Funk Zone]

A downtown/waterfront area zero-emissions, battery-electric shuttle system runs throughout the day so you can keep the car parked (gratis) inside the Inn’s underground garage and explore the city on foot, especially handy when exploring the Funk Zone, a collection of urban winery tasting rooms that form part of the city’s famed Urban Wine Trail.

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Tip: Architecture lovers will want to walk the neighbourhood and admire some of the early Colonial style buildings and take in the Dr. Seuss meet Gaudi apartment building at 819 Garden Street, designed by renowned architect Jeff Shelton.

Santa Barbara-61 Jeff Shelton's El Jardin

You can download a little walking tour map here (you’re welcome).

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Spanish Garden Inn is located at 915 Garden Street in Santa Barbara.

My stay was hosted by Spanish Garden Inn. Opinions, as always, are my own..

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