Think you can’t find an affordable boutique hotel with character in Santa Barbara? It took some time, but we found one. And the search was well worth the effort.
A two to three hour drive from Los Angeles (depending on traffic), Santa Barbara is a great getaway when you really need to decompress. I structured our trip around an opportunity to see the famed Les Ballet Trockadero de Monte Carlo. (The renowned all-male drag ballet troupe featured in the documentary Rebels on Pointe.)
After scouring options for accommodations, the most promising boutique hotel was the Kimpton Canary. To be honest, the name threw me off at first, but trust me, this Canary sings.
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What I liked about the Canary includes its ambience, architecture and amenities. To the first point, this place has looks to spare. It’s evident from the charming porte-cochère when you pull into the hotel’s covered entry (complete with Spanish tiled fountain) all the way up to its Instagram-ready rooftop deck. The deck boasts a swimming pool, hot tub and panoramic views of the Mission and the mountains to the sea. Truly, the Canary captures the Santa Barbara vibe with understated elegance.
The Canary is also conveniently located near the heart of Santa Barbara. However it’s also just far enough away from the main drag to provide the peace of mind and serenity for a weekend respite. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the room itself was beautifully appointed with an Old World Spanish feel, comfortable four-poster beds and a lovely view out the French door windows with a Juliet porch to boot.
Here are some other things we noticed:
The staff is extremely attentive. And I’m not talking about the obsequious bowing and scraping you’ll find at certain hotels. This crew was courteous, professional and results-oriented with impressive follow through. They went above and beyond in response to both big and small requests.
The Finch and Fork lives up to its good word of mouth. We had the grilled salmon and the half jidori chicken with roasted cauliflower appetizer. My only quibble: the salmon was farmed, not wild. But the delectable desserts, including a sticky toffee cake with brown butter whipped cream and the mascarpone cheesecake, more than made up for that.
You Can Bike Me
Complementary bikes are offered for use by hotel guests for a leisurely spin around the city. The bicycles weren’t necessarily high-end or on trend, but they had working gear shifts to handle the terrain. I took a spin down the main drag (State Street) all the way to the ocean and along the strand. It proved a great way to reacquaint myself with the beauty of this coastal vacation oasis and get my glutes a good workout.
There are lobby amenities aplenty. Wine offered at check-in took the edge off of traveling. Biscotti, coffee and tea got the morning off to a good start. Hot chocolate sweetened the afternoon. And complementary wild mushroom flatbread and wine-tasting in the late afternoon sated us until the dinner hour.
While it may be disappointing to some that the Canary doesn’t have a spa or a gym, that’s well compensated by offering guests full use of the two-level Gold’s gym next door, which was in excellent condition. That certainly beats a drab converted closet with an exercise bike, a treadmill and half a weight set (as we’ve all come across elsewhere).
Santa Barbara is a coastal haven that’s earned its reputation as a celebrity-worthy enclave, and the Canary is a great place to enjoy it without breaking the bank.
As for Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, if you ever get a chance to see them live: run, do not walk (okay you can throw in a pirouette or jeté)! This world-famous troupe dazzle with their costumes and skill, then steal hearts with their comedy.
All images courtesy Finch & Fork and Kimpton
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Last modified: July 8, 2019