Privilege Blog

A Review Of The Bacara Resort Near Santa Barbara

I spent last weekend in Santa Barbara, visiting my mother and meeting up with my sisters and their families. If all the nieces and nephews stay in separate bedrooms, my sisters get better nights’ sleep. So I checked into the nearby Bacara Resort for a few nights. And was quite pleasantly surprised.

The Bacara website drips with Los Angeles aesthetics. I mean, does this photo make YOU want to pay the place a visit? I think it must be targeted towards male movie industry executives. Somebody would surely poke me in the stomach if I assumed a similar position. Causing me to squeal and sit up rapidly. Too rapidly to manage the generous bathrobe.

But the resort itself has been designed and built in classic Santa Barbara style. What does that mean, you might ask? Certainly not black and white. The aesthetic loves an earth tone.

We will say it’s half Spanish decor, half movie western. With a sense of playfulness and an appreciation for nature.

The resort grounds are quite large, covered by many low buildings nestled into hilly, treed, grounds. Bougainvillea grows up around arches. The smell of eucalyptus is light in the air, especially after a rain.

The rooms are also decorated in Spanish-western style, mixed with striped English-y bed linens and blue toile cushions. Quite nice. I love it when hotels look as though a person decorated them, not a machine. That is toile, right?

A fireplace. With pillar candles at the ready. In fact the resort seems to have invested heavily in pillar candles as glowing cylinders pop up at every turn.

Not to mention my favorite hotel hair care in the world, Fresh Soy Shampoo and Pomegranate Conditioner.

The Bacara has a big spa, which sits right next to one of the resort pools. I wasn’t there to get pampered, but ran up the stairs and peeked in any way. Don’t worry. I asked permission. Light, open, quiet. I did use the workout facilities. They are large, full of absolutely everything you could want, and not overly crowded. And who doesn’t love a robust palm tree or two?

Of the three restaurants. Miro, Bistro, and the Spa Cafe, we ate only at the latter.

A delicious breakfast. The Bonne Maman honey jar was clearly Mise’s doing. How she transported it here from Ireland I do not know.

As I said, the spa was next to one of the resort’s pools. Implying that there are others. Yes. Two others. Behold the main swimming pools, with Grandpa Neptune watching from his throne in the Pacific Ocean. Glorious sight, which would be irresistible in sunshine. There’s almost nothing better for bones than a good drying-out under the Southern California sun. One can always retreat to one’s cabana as required.

And then, if you have to get up very early in the morning, and happen to drive south, the Santa Barbara mountains may reveal themselves in all their painted glory. Causing you to have to leap from your automobile and wander around airport yards stepping in puddles. In hopes of a photo to show your friends.

Sunrise over Santa Barbara

A few notes to make sure the Bacara would suit your needs. This is not primarily a beach resort. It abuts Bacara Beach, which I didn’t visit, but I don’t hear raves. I recommend you hop in your car and drive 10-15 minutes south to Hendry’s Beach. Other beach suggestions can be found here. It should also be noted that the Bacara is about 20 minutes north of Santa Barbara proper, but only 10 minutes from the Santa Barbara airport.

Just wave to me as you pass by San Francisco. OK?

Have a wonderful weekend.

Woman in bathrobe, Bacara Resort, rest are mine.
Rates start at $350/night but I’ve heard tell of discounts down to $180 on occasion.
And no, no compensation was received in return for this natter. Is natter a noun?

45 Responses

  1. Lisa, thank you for your review of the Bacara. With your photos and descriptions I feel that I got the real information, not just the pr hype.
    Stay warm…it’s going to snow in your area!!!!!

  2. Oooh, minus 17 (celsius) with the wind chill, and several inches of snow on our little island — California Dreamin’ on such a winter’s Day, indeed! Thank you . . .

  3. Yes, this place is truly amazing. My daughter & I were there for a week 3-4 years ago; she’s a spa developer & wanted to see & experience the ambiance of the spa there. What I also discovered is that Bacara has it’s own fishing boats bringing fresh catches which you will feast upon each evening. They also have their own organic gardens for the world’s freshest produce. I ate the Seared Ahi Tuna twice because it was so delicious. Like you, I also noticed the presence of L.A. high-rollers, we were invited to attend a wedding taking place on the property (we did)(Ophra’s birthday bash was here too). A place one won’t ever forget…and ohhhhhh, that pool overlooking the Pacific. Wish I could have been with you, Lisa…

  4. Beautiful! I always try to check out the spa – I never seem to make the time when I’m at home, but traveling one can always find an hour or two for a relaxing spa treatment.

  5. ooohhh, so lovely!

    I wonder if the lady in the picture has died from delight?

    I’m going to my parent’s this weekend to meet up with all my sisters! I will be staying at the Holiday Inn in Hyannis – I shall spare you the photos, lol!

  6. Never, ever visited places like the one you are posting about. So very far away.
    Thank you for the tour!

  7. The grounds are gorgeous!

    Of course you can use my picture.
    I am naturally a brunette but started turning gray at age 17. It was easier to make it blonde so I used Feria 100 on it for years and then my daughter convinced me to let it grow out. I got it cut really short to let it grow out and it has just stayed that way.


  8. This is one of my favorite resorts and the best part is it only takes me about a hour and a half to get there. The food and the surroundings are fabulous. I hope you enjoyed your trip.

  9. how utterly divine.

    I’m embracing ye ole Wasp tradition today and having a baby shower in a sort of afternoon tea party format. There’ll be lots of chic baked goods and tea and champagne.

    It’s almost 7 am so better sort the flowers x

  10. Heaven!! You should write their copy for advertisements! {Those small jars of Bonne Maman honey were favors at Daughter’s wedding last summer}Have a great weekend! xoxo

  11. I agree that Bacara is beautiful but when I went there I had horrible service. I also got a bruise from the massage at the spa. I *hope* it was because it was semi-new at the time and they were still working out the kinks, but it was definitely a disappointment.

  12. Ah, Santa Barbara, place of my birth. If I’d thought of it sooner, I’d have asked you to go see if they’ve put up the “Rubi Was Born Here” plaque on St. Francis Hospital. Alas, I only got to partake of SB until I was 1, when Daddums graduated from UCSB…

  13. That last shot is gorgeous and worth the wet foot from the puddle you stepped into. Thank you…you have awakened ancient memories of a family vacation in those same mountains.

  14. I was in SB this past Monday for lunch and I actually thought of you and would not have surprised if I had seen you. Isn’t that odd? I was wondering where the resort was too. Every time I go past the polo grounds I think I’ve got to go one day, they are so lovey and expansive. When I’m driving in the area I always try to take the roads through Montecito then hop back on the freeway again. Such a nice diversion when I have the time. Seems your weekend was very nice indeed. :)

  15. How delightful, and thank you for the tour. It is most pleasing to read sitting at my kitchen table, tapping away with snow and ice cascading outside. And yes, I agree, it is far more pleasant to stay in an hotel nearby to one’s loved ones than with them. Well, at least most of the time. Well done! RD

  16. What a gorgeous setting. Everything is so beautiful, and those palm trees, wow! It looks like an oasis.

  17. That’s a beautiful place! We will keep it in mind if we travel north. The buildings and flowers remind me of La Quinta Resort east of Palm Springs. But the Bacara looks more luxurious. Did you see any children there, or was it strictly adults?

  18. What a gorgeous place. Hmm…X will be out at Kavli for a few weeks this summer…we’ll be staying in a condo, but maybe I can talk him into a night or two there, if I just show him the picture of the Santa Barbara mountains… And I like the idea of rooms decorated by people and not machines…

  19. QBS – I think Santa Barbara is probably one of your spiritual homes. And cabanas.

    Laura – Thank you very very much. Both for the kind words and for the decor wisdom.

    Belle – You’re welcome. And snow never made it to my little neighborhood, more’s the pity.

    hostess – It was incredibly relaxing.

    Mater – Now I will sing that song in my mind for the rest of the day:).

    La Belette – It’d be really worth it.

  20. Marsha – Oh I wish we’d had some fish! How much fun is it to have a daughter who develops spas! I hope she invites you often:).

    pve – Yes, the place managed to mix earth and luxury very well. One of California’s great skills, I think.

    Stephanie – Thank you!

    DocP – I almost always try spas too – just had those cute nieces and nephews on my mind.

    Muffy – Yes! I can just imagine you at the spa:).

    That’s Not My Age – Thanks. I love to go up into the mountains, at least driving through, on my way home.

  21. Patsy – Bwahahahaha.

    Mette – My pleasure. Do you ever think of traveling?

    Louise – I’ve heard of that. And I’ve never been to Death Valley. Maybe some day. Thank you.

    Charlotte – :).

    ms Givens – Well wonderful! Thanks.

    Miss Janey – I believe you are right:).

  22. Mrs. Mix-It – How nice to know that someone who lives nearby visits often. Confirms my sense of the place. I know it used to have service issues, but I saw absolutely no sign of anything but great attitude.

    TPP – You bet!

    FF – I hope Mr. Baby enjoyed his shower:).

    Sensible Footwear – :).

    ABDPBT – I had heard about the bad service early on. My mother refuses to grace their doorstep, having been badly treated at one point. But someone has dealt with the problem, and not only did we have good service, we had fantastic service. Sorry you got a bruise, how awful.

    Rubiatonta – I’ll go put the plaque up myself:). Remind me the next time I go down south…

  23. Preppy 101 – Oh I remember about your daughter’s wedding! Those are great favors.

    jj – Santa Barbara does have a particularly relaxed feel, I agree.

    Terri – You’re very welcome. I made my peace with the puddle:).

    Pink Martinis – I was there! Although Monday I don’t think we went into town, having spent Sunday wandering the Art Walk:). It was a lovely weekend, thank you.

    Twenty Four – Absolutely shocking:).

    Reggie – My pleasure! Always happen to provide some California endorphins.

  24. mise – But of course. xox.

    theduchesse – Palm trees are EVERYWHERE in Southern California:). It’s funny, one gets used to them, but they are pretty exotic. Thanks.

    Susan – Maybe you and Belette should watch the rates and see if that number shows up again!

    SewingLibrarian – I saw only adults. That said, I don’t think there are any prohibitions against kids. They do have two pools, so maybe one is for kids and the other for adults – the way they do it at the Carneros Inn, for example.

    Staircase Witch – The mountains, to be fair, aren’t visible from the resort:(. However, you can drive up into them, and if the weather is good, hike. I’ve never done it, but it is glorious country. And the Bacara would make a nice weekend retreat. I looked up Kavli by the way, not being familiar with the term. Fascinating. My daughter has a neuroscience minor, and works for a company that makes neurosurgery equipment. She’s thinking about med school or grad school. I’m going to forward her the link. Thanks a million.

    1. Glad to be of help! X’s students often spend a semester there, and he’s considering it for a half-sabbatical. There’s nothing like doing challenging science in a beautiful place, unencumbered by one’s ordinary day-to-day concerns. And I don’t know about neuroscientists, but an enthusiasm for hiking has historically been a requirement for most theoretical physicists. :)

  25. You’ve never been to Death Valley? Oh my goodness, I hope you will! It’s really quite close to the Bay Area, considering how far it is from civilization.

    We’ll be there this coming weekend and hope to see wildflowers. Dinner at the Furnace Creek Inn dining room is wonderful. Cocktails at sunset with a view of the valley on the stone porch? So, so lovely. And the pool, which is fed continuously and unfiltered from the hot springs (hence, Furnace Creek) is always exactly 85 degrees. No sulphur smell, just scrumptious mineral water to float in with impeccable service from the poolside staff.

    An insider tip: the gift shop at the Inn makes jewelry stores at the Stanford Mall gnash their teeth with jealousy. I always find gifts for my Grande Dame mother there. Turquoise, opal, agate and sterling concha belts? Yes, please.

    Oh, and Christmas at the Inn! Love, love, love. Sigh. Truly, one of the great hotels of the West.

  26. Hmmm, I’ve always had a bad feeling at the Bacara. Truly wonderful hotels at every price point in SB: San Ysidro Ranch, Simpson House B&B, Montecito Inn, and for the artsy/hipster crowd – Presidio Motel.

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