Santa Barbara, California
What it is
A 121-room, 1920s jewel of the American Riviera, with jaw-dropping Moroccan-inspired interiors by Martyn Lawrence Bullard (decorator for Cher and the Kardashians, among others) and a topnotch spa.
What it isn't
Poorly serviced. Included in your resort fee: loaner custom bikes for whirling around the nearby boardwalk; house car transportation within a 2-mile radius; use of a 24-hour gym; and endless enjoyment of the tech and game library (ideal when you urgently need to borrow a MacBook Air or are hankering to play Settlers of Catan.)
What we think
If the exotic-meets-Old Hollywood appeal of Casablanca is your #mood, Hotel Californian is a dream come true—just ask celebs like Bo Derek, John Mayer and Jane Lynch, each of whom have been spotted here. Intricate eye candy abounds in the Spanish Colonial gem: the interiors are adorned in some 1 million hand-painted Moroccan tiles, gold snake sconces, rattan galore and cherry-picked Portuguese antiques. Each guest room is unexpectedly enormous (starting at 450 square feet); we’d recommend booking a Tangerinn Guestroom for their fireplaces and verandas, or the 1280-square-foot Magellan Suite, overlooking the Santa Ynez Mountains. No matter which hideaway you pick, amenities include a cocktail cart, gourmet snacks, and, for your morning jolt, Nespresso machines.
You're here because
You like to feel like a local, and the hotel is full of Santa Barbarans thanks to must-attend events like Sunset Sessions—DJ sets overlooking 360 degrees of palm trees and the sea on the fourth-floor rooftop.
You’ve spent plenty of time steeping in the hammams of Marrakesh, but Majorelle—the hotel’s spa—still takes your breath away with its Bysantine beauty. You’re so blissed out you practically sink into the table during your sugar scrub and 90-minute basalt salt stone Himilayan massage.
Restaurants & Bars
Blackbird - Mediterranean-influenced, locally sourced cuisine
Goat Tree - Gourmet café with al fresco seating offering fresh, local fare
Blackbird Bar - Upscale cocktails and exclusive local wines
Djinn - Cocktails with a Moroccan twist
The pride of the artsy Funk Zone district—where boutiques and galleries abound—the property sits just two blocks from the terracotta-roofed Santa Barbara Amtrak station and one from West Beach and the Santa Barbara pier, where you can sup on local box crab at the Santa Barbara Shellfish Company.