Just two hours north of Los Angeles, nestled between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, sits the swanky city of Santa Barbara. A celebrity hotspot, this ritzy locale is renowned for its serene swaths of sand, up-and-coming wine scene, and Spanish Colonial architecture. While the destination is home to a handful of luxury hotels, few — if any — can compete with the Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara. With two beaches, three infinity-edge pools, striking architecture, and a sprawling spa, this opulent oasis offers the best of that famous laidback Cali lifestyle. Keep reading for our full review. 

What You Need to Know

The Look of The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara

The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara spans 78 lush acres overlooking the Pacific. Its postcard-worthy surroundings — including golden sand beaches and greenery-filled pathways — are just as stunning as its red-tiled roofs and Spanish-style architecture. 

After pulling up to the brick-lined porte-cochère, at the center of which there’s a striking fountain, guests will be whisked inside a coastal-chic lobby. The expansive space features crisp white walls, wood-paneled ceilings, striking arches, a roaring fireplace, and bold blue-hued seating and rugs. Adjacent to the lobby is the contemporary O Bar + Kitchen, which features a chic blue and gray color palette and gorgeous ocean views. There’s also the moodily elegant steakhouse Angel Oak, the al fresco Bistro restaurant, and the sun-drenched Japanese eatery San Setto. Other common spaces include a poolside bar, a grab-and-go coffee shop, a tropical-inspired cigar lounge, and a wine-tasting room.

The 42,000-square-foot spa invites tranquility with a serene neutral color palette, an all-white exterior, and posh relaxation areas, including a lounge with a fireplace and a rooftop terrace with sweeping views of the Pacific. Other noteworthy amenities include an adults-only pool, a redwood sauna, and eucalyptus steam rooms. The relaxing vibes continue out by the main pool area, which is lined with lounge chairs and surrounded by gently swaying palm trees. In terms of treatment offerings, options abound; however, you can't go wrong with the Bacara Body Melt. The 80-minute treatment includes a full-body exfoliation, a relaxing Swiss shower experience, a full-body aromatherapy massage, a thermal wrap, and a scalp massage. 

Post-spa, retreat to one of the elegantly appointed rooms and suites, which feature patterned rugs, tufted headboards, blue blankets and throw pillows, and views of the ocean or lush gardens. The soaking tubs in the bathrooms are a bonus, and select units also have al fresco fire pits, private balconies, fireplaces, and club access. 

The Vibe at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara

While the resort is very much buzzing with guests — many of whom spend their days hanging by the beach, pool, or spa while stopping for drinks and bites at one of the many on-site bars and restaurants — it still, somehow, feels peaceful. And despite how luxe the resort is, it’s also refreshingly laid-back: Guests can come as they are without worrying about dressing to impress. 

Who Will Love The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara

Couples and adult groups will love the property’s peaceful nooks, including the spa and its adults-only swimming pool, the private cabanas surrounding the main pool area, and the on-site bars, the cigar lounge, and the wine-tasting room. Similarly, families will love the property because they never need to leave it thanks to its abundance of dining options, expansive pool area and beaches, and on-site outdoor activities like tennis, biking, and hiking, to name a few.

Who Might Not Love The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara

This is a luxury property and the rates reflect that, so budget-conscious travelers may opt to seek a stay elsewhere. Also, while the property is located on the (somewhat rocky) beach, there is no beach service (i.e., chairs, umbrellas, and loungers), which may be a turn-off for those craving a true beach retreat.

Best Amenity at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara

Between the spa, the cigar lounge, and the tasting room — not to mention the two miles of beaches and several infinity pools — picking the best amenity at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara seems like a nearly impossible task. However, we'd be remiss not to highlight the Club Lounge. Available exclusively to those who book Club-level rooms, the lounge offers breakfast, a light lunch, afternoon tea, hors d'oeuvres, and desserts and cordials — along with beverages like coffee, smoothies, and, best of all, an open bar. It also features a private terrace overlooking the coast, a dedicated concierge, and complimentary garment pressing. 

Additionally, art lovers can also check out the on-site art show in the lobby, which runs through February 16, 2024. The specially curated show will feature work from acclaimed local artist Benjamin Anderson — who was also recently named the resort's Artist in Residence — as well as that of other local artists. 

Money Matters

What’s Included at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara

Guests enjoy nightly turndown service, free Wi-Fi, and activities like tennis and bike rentals. Access to the fitness center is also included. Complimentary activities, such as hiking, painting, necklace making, and stargazing, are also available. 

Fees & Extra Costs You Should Know About at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara

The property charges a $55 nightly resort fee, and spa treatments and water sports are available for an additional cost. Private cabanas can also be reserved for a fee, and, lastly, valet parking costs $70 per night. 

How to Get a Deal at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara

Marriot Bonvoy members, AAA members, military and government personnel, and senior citizens are all privy to discounted room rates. Also, click here to browse all available packages and promotions, including resort credit, daily breakfast, spa treatments, and waived resort fees, among other perks. 

The Sweet Season

December through February (with the exception of Christmas and New Year’s) is Santa Barbara’s low season since it coincides with the destination’s rainy season. However, there’s no need to fret: This oceanfront city offers around 300 days of sunshine and year-round warm weather! 

Getting There

In the Neighborhood of The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara 

Downtown Santa Barbara is 15 miles from the resort. The palm-lined streets are teeming with shops and galleries like 10 West Gallery and 33 Jewels at El Paseo. Museums — including MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation, and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art — and theaters — Center Stage, Lobero, and Granada, among others  — can be found here, too. Then, when hunger calls, grab a bite at one of dozens of hotspots like Andersen's Danish Bakery, Carlitos Cafe Y Cantina, and Crushcakes & Café. Closer to the resort are local attractions like Haskell’s Beach, Sandpiper Golf Club, and Goleta Monarch Butterfly Grove at Ellwood Mesa

Nearest Airport to The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara 

Santa Barbara Municipal Airport is just seven miles from the resort. 

Nearest Public Transportation to The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara

Although there is public transportation in downtown Santa Barbara, the resort is about 20 minutes away from it. Guests are better off renting a car or having the concierge call them a taxi to get around. 

The Bottom Line 

For a luxurious and amenity-packed escape in one of America’s swankiest cities, consider The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara.