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Santa Barbara is a fantastic destination for luxury vacations, with several high-end hotels and many top-notch restaurants, not to mention the beaches along California’s beautiful central coast. But with a film festival, local breweries, and arguably the prettiest University of California campus, Santa Barbara also attracts travelers who don’t have thousands of dollars to drop on each vacation. Hotel Indigo Santa Barbara is the 3-star hotel with the best location for the more budget-minded California getaway traveler.
Just the Facts, Ma’am:
Hotel Indigo properties are tied closely to their location; this sense of place is what ties the brand together. In as such, Hotel Indigo Santa Barbara is very close to the beach, in the artiest, most vibrant section of Santa Barbara called the “Funk Zone.”
There are, of course, king rooms, queen rooms and doubles. The first floor king and queen rooms have small outdoor patios, and there is also a small rooftop terrace. Hotel Indigo Santa Barbara is a pet-friendly hotel; guests must register their pets and stay in specific pet-friendly rooms, and pay an additional surcharge of $40. Hotel Indigo Santa Barbara enables guests to stay at the hotel without a car, as the Amtrak stop is very close, with trolly/bus stops at the front door and bikes available to borrow. The hotel’s commitment to a smaller carbon footprint is seen in other “green” initiatives including drought-tolerant landscaping, eco-friendly products for the cleaning staff, energy efficient “energy star” bulbs, and natural, fragrance-free Aveda toiletries.
The most unique aspect of Hotel Indigo Santa Barbara is its commitment to local artists. Named one of the “10 Best Art Hotels” by USA Today, the hotel’s decor is primarily focused on original paintings, sculptures, and photography. In fact, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Santa Barbara uses the hotel as a satellite exhibition space. Shining light on contemporary artists illustrates the Hotel Indigo brand’s commitment to celebrating each destination’s location.
Hotel Indigo Santa Barbara isn’t the Four Seasons, nor does it pretend to be. This is a solid, affordable option for young people seeking a Santa Barbara vacation that won’t drain their bank account. The rooms are small, and the bathrooms will be a tight fit for couples. There’s no public elevator to the second floor, so people with difficulties ascending stairs should request a room on the first floor.
I really loved stepping out of the hotel, turning right, and being on the beach in less than a minute. It is so close to Stearns Wharf that beach lovers will be delighted. Constructed in 1872, it became the longest deep-water pier between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Today, Stearns Wharf is a local attraction, right at the beach end of State Street, with several touristy shops and the terrific Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center.
The trolley by the front door and train tracks a block away make for easy transportation within and to and from Santa Barbara. The train does add a certain amount of noise to the area, but the windows are double paned and I didn’t find it disruptive once I was in my room.
The attached restaurant, Santo Mezcal, is fantastic. There are plenty of Mexican restaurant options in Santa Barbara, let alone California’s Central Coast, but Santo Mescal stand out with its innovative, true-to-form Mexican food. Forget the plate of sloppy nachos and giant frozen margaritas at most Mexican joints; Santa Mescal is special, haute cuisine. Have you heard of huitlacoche? It’s a fungus that grows on corn, and a delicacy in Mexico. Here it is served with mushrooms and queso on blue corn tortillas. I loved it, and will be ordering it again when I return to Santa Barbara. Santo Mezcal is worth a repeat trip. And I haven’t even mentioned the bar. There are wonderful margaritas with either tequila or mescal, creative cocktails, and a large selection of wine. If you’re looking for a fantastic new restaurant in Santa Barbara, I recommend Santo Mezcal.
There are other Hotel Indigos near train stations in Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Diego, so it’s conceivable that young adults can spend a couple of weeks hopping from Hotel Indigo to Hotel Indigo, and see some of the most fun parts of Southern California while they’re at it. And all of this, car-free! Car-free and Southern California aren’t often in the same sentence, but with the hotel brand’s commitment to eco-friendly lifestyles, it’s finally possible.