Santa Barbara will always hold a special place in Tor and I’s hearts. Two years ago, we got married in a beautiful ceremony in the heart of Santa Barbara’s wine country. With that said, we keep finding ways to keep returning to the place that means so much to us. This month marks 8 years since Tor and I first laid eyes on each other after a 3-month long online friendship. To mark such a happy occasion, Tor and I chose to celebrate in style at Santa Barbara’s newest downtown spots – Hotel Californian.
For 2 blissful nights, Tor and I couldn’t wait to lounge out at Hotel Californian’s rooftop pool overlooking the ocean, dine at incredible restaurants just walking distance from the hotel, and have an intimate, romantic experience that we so excitedly were looking forward to. While downtown Santa Barbara is only 90 minutes from Los Angeles, for us this felt like a complete escape from Los Angeles life for 48 hours. Immediately upon check-in, Tor and I were informed our hotel was just steps from the city’s Funk Zone, which is a colony of storefronts and wineries within a couple blocks’ radius. The wine-o in me couldn’t be happier! We had a hard time choosing between the Funk Zone and the beach on our first night, since both were less than a 3 minute walk from Hotel Californian.
We ended up choosing the beach, as we had not enjoyed a sunset on the beach in many months (the last one was in Iceland in November). Standing there on the beach, watching the sky turn multiple shades of purple, pink, orange, and blue, could not have been more romantic with my love. We pushed back our dinner reservation at the nearby Lark restaurant so we could stay at the beach until the sun was completely down. It was one of the most beautiful sunsets we have seen, making our anniversary trip already off to a great start.
For our second day at Hotel Californian, our goal was to relax and lounge together as much as possible. We ordered in room service (I squealed when I saw my favorite brioche French toast) and took our time getting ready in the morning before donning our swimsuits and walking across the street to the hotel pool. Hotel Californian is comprised of four buildings, and while ours may not have had direct pool access, our building did have the most stunning architecture and staircases.
For several hours, Tor and I curled up poolside at Hotel Californian’s rooftop pool with a direct view of the Pacific Ocean across the street. At one point, we even had the pool all to ourselves which made the afternoon even more romantic. We alternated between reading, lounging in the pool, or eating from the poolside menu. We had not had an anniversary trip like this in a long time, where our main goal was to do nothing but also do everything. This trip was all about leisure, which is what we were hoping for.
After several hours at the pool (and where I developed my first actual tan in years!), we relocated up one level to the rooftop bar. Sipping on some California rosé, we enjoyed the views of downtown Santa Barbara to the north as the sun began to lower in the west. Seeing all the orange tiled roofs, white architectural style of the buildings, and the abundant mountains in the background brought a calming sense of peace. Sometimes Santa Barbara feels too pretty to be real.
After getting a quick peek at Hotel Californian’s library, located just off the main lobby, Tor and I took advantage of their complimentary car service for dinner. We had made reservations at the nearby Toma for some hearty Italian across from the ocean for our last night in town.
Since we were posting to social media about our trip during our stay, we found out from several friends that they too had stayed at Hotel Californian for romantic escapes to Santa Barbara, including another anniversary. We knew we had definitely chosen the right spot to mark 8 years since our first date by spending 2 unforgettable nights at one of the best places you can stay in Santa Barbara.