If You're Going To San-ta Barbara:

If you are planning a trip to Santa Barbara, the tony town just north of Los Angeles - there are a few places to stay that would interest interior design aficionados.  Two were decorated by interior designers covered in the last two Cote de Texas blogs and one is, well, special - as you will see!


HOTEL #1:    The Canary Hotel

Recently purchased by the company that owns Shutters on the Beach, one of the most popular hotels in southern California and it's sister property, the Casa del Mar,  the Canary Hotel sits squarely in the hustle and bustle of downtown Santa Barbara, which could be a either a  good thing or a not-so-good thing if you want peace and quiet.  The allure of the Canary Hotel to Cote de Texas readers would be Michael S. Smith, recently named #9 on CoT's Top Designer list (yeah - ok, big deal!)   Smith, fresh from his Shutters on the Beach renovation, next tackled the elderly building that the Canary Hotel occupies.  The rooms' decor  is true Michael S. Smith:  hardwood floors, four poster canopy beds, seagrass rugs, white linens, Mediterranean styling. lush draperies, comfortable seating, Ikat and ticking upholstery fabrics,  and a Suzani inspired pillow (of course!)  The bathrooms have tiled showers a la Smith,  and the rooms have the Michael Smith ubiquitous blue and white pottery and fabrics (of course!)


The Canary Hotel:  rooms by Michael S. Smith:  four poster beds, seagrass matting, blue and white ikat upholstery (barely seen on chair to the left of bed), and Mediterranean styled, dark-stained wood furniture.


And here's Michael Smith's trademark:  the Suzani - this time seen on a pillow!


The Canary Hotel bathrooms have flatscreen tvs, hanging pendant lights, damask wallpaper, and tiled showers (visible in the mirror.)  The vanity and mirror are the dark wood that Smith loves.


The other side of the guest rooms:  blue and white porcelains, blue and white ticking on the sofa, dark wood Spanish styled dresse, and flat screen tv.  Nice!


View of the guest room from the opposite side.  Great attention was paid to decorating details such as framed prints, trendy lamps, and octagonal mirrors.


The lobby at the Canary Hotel was redecorated by Smith:  French styled wing chair, accent pieces for side tables, flat weave area rugs, large hanging Suzani, and note the tiled wall behind the sofa!  Pure Michael!


The terrace of the Canary Hotel on the top floor gives a panoramic view of the ocean and the mountains.  I love the outdoor fireplace shaped like a Spanish Mission bell tower, seen on the left.


The terrace set for a wedding on a foggy day in Santa Barbara.


The terrace at sunset.  Chairs wear striped fabric chosen ny Michael S. Smith.

HOTEL #2 - The Oceana Hotel

Shown here, the beachfront Hotel Oceana was once actually four motels combined into one.  A casual hotel, far more so than the previous luxury Canary Hotel,  the Hotel Oceana has the distinct advantage of being directly on the beach.

Decorated six years ago during its renovation by Kathryn Ireland, the rooms are dressed in Ireland's checked fabric.  Here, the choice was yellow check.  Note how Ireland covered all the lampshades with her checked fabric.

Here, this guest room is done in Ireland's sage green check, while the draperies are a contrasting fabric of hers. 

Here Ireland decorated this outdoor patio with vibrant colored fabrics.

One of the four buildings that make up the Hotel Oceana, facing the beach.

Rooms here either face the ocean or an interior courtyard such as this one, above.  The lush landscaping is so typical of southern California where bougainvillea grows wild on the sides of the freeways.

Another courtyard view, this time with an emphasis on the Spanish tiled roofs.

This is probably the only time you will ever see a conference room outfitted with Kathryn Ireland paisley fabrics and pine conference tables!  This look is so typical of Ireland - and so atypical of conference rooms.

The reception desk at the Hotel Oceana.  Ireland fabrics cover the sofas and the lampshades.  Astute observers will notice a similarity between these lamps and the lamps in Ireland's own bedroom.  The desk paneling is fauxed to resemble Ireland's beloved pine furniture.  Again, this look is Ireland's own translated to a hotel lobby.


Sorry this picture is so small!  Some of the guest rooms have canopies behind the upholstered headboards as shown in this picture taken from Ireland's old web site.

The bathrooms - through an archway - have fabric attached with nailheads instead of cabinet doors  - a homey Ireland touch.

And here is a picture of a guest room in Ireland's red check fabric with contrasting curtain fabric.

HOTEL #3 - The San Ysidro Ranch

If you grow tired of Santa Barbara's hectic pace and want a little peace and quiet, you will find it south of the city towards the foothills of the Santa Ynez Mountains.  There, an old, luxury hotel, over 110 years old to be exact, is located on the same land titled in the 17th century by the King of Spain.  It's called the San Ysidro Ranch and it just might as well be called Heaven on Earth.   Located on over 500 hundred acres of coastal landscape, it offers views of both the Pacific Ocean and of the mountains.    Famed for where Jackie and John Kennedy spent their honeymoon (if you choose, you can even stay in the original cottage that the Kennedys slept in)  AND where Laurence Olivier and  Vivien Leigh married, the hotel is steeped in romance, history, and beauty.  Owned by Ty Warner and Rosewood  Resort, this hidden ranch is gorgeous, inside and out.  The rooms are housed in cottages and each one has different decor.  Completely remodeled and refurbished during a renovation that lasted three years,  the ranch is in tip top shape and well worth the money (that is, if you HAVE the money to stay here!)  There are a variety of different rooms and suites, all decorated by Marc Appelton and his company (one of Architectural Digest's elite 100.)   The cottages all have radiant heated floors in the bathrooms and outdoor rain showers along with private hot tubs on their terraces.  All have fireplaces and just about every amenity you would expect out of a five star hotel.  The best part for me is your dog is even welcome here - with a $100 cleaning fee, of course.


The entrance to the San Ysidro Ranch.


The ranch newly landscaped with lavender and olive trees and pergolas.  Sandstone was brought in for retaining walls.  Views are of the Santa Ynez mountains.   


Flowering plants are everywhere.  Lilly of the Nile lines the path on the left.


View of the Pacific Ocean in the back, pergolas and landscaped gardens in the front.


A lily pond surrounded by sandstone on the newly landscaped grounds.


The "Hacienda" -  the original ranch house built on the property in 1892.  Now this bougainvillea covered cottage is where guests congregate and check in.


The front desk at the San Ysidro Ranch.  I love the antique sofa on the right.


The Stonehouse, built in 1889 to handle the distribution of oranges that grew on the ranch during its days as a citrus farm.  Now, it's the restaurant.


Outdoor dining on the terrace of the Stonehouse.


This adobe ranch house, built in 1825, is a California Historical Landmark.  It now serves as a private dining room.  I love the sunburst mirror!


Or you may choose to dine on your  private deck with the Pacific Ocean in the background.


The tennis courts, surrounded by the towering eucalyptus trees found all over southern California.  The Pacific Ocean can be seen in the background.


One of the 41 charming cottages - the garden gate is under a rose covered pergola.


The grounds surrounding one of the cottages with chairs and birdhouse.

All of the cottages have outdoor rain showers - can you imagine?


The Orange Cottage living room.  Notice the high, wood ceiling.   Love the plasma tv showing the famous Roman Holiday movie!  


Through the garden gate to one of the cottage rooms.


The Oak Grove Cottage.  Again, note the gorgeous wood ceiling and wonderful fireplace.


One of the cottages surrounded by flowers and mountains.


The Lavender Cottage's bedroom and sitting area. The African Queen plays on this TV.

One of the cottages with the bedroom on the left and the sitting room with fireplace on the right.


Close- up of the bedroom area.


Picture of the cottage's newly renovated bathroom with its dual vanities.


The Gardenia Cottage.  Is this the most romantic hotel room you've ever seen?


Another cottage with the charming french doors, vaulted wood ceilings and luxury decor.


A footed bathtub in one of the cottages.   Lit by a chandelier and warmed by an oriental rug - is this a hotel bathroom?


The secluded outdoor terrace of a cottage.  The cottages have outdoor showers and private hot tubs.  I love how the windows swing open for fresh air.


The Willow Cottage with its charming chintz upholstery and curtains.


If you had a chance to go the Santa Barbara area and money was no object, would you choose to stay in the downtown shopping and antiquing area in the Michael S. Smith decorated Canary Hotel, or would you chose the Kathryn Ireland decorated beachfront Hotel Oceana, or would it be the San Ysidro Ranch outside of town in the shadow of the Santa Ynez Mountains?   Hmmmmmmmm.....??????    Let me guess!


  1. decisions, decisions, did you ever think about being a travel agent? you do find the best spots!

  2. For me it's definately the cottages. I'm all about romantic cosy and comfy.

    Anna :)

    p.s I'm drooling over that claw foot bath!!

  3. Wonderful as usual. You have raised the bar so high for other bloggers. I always learn so much from you. Thank you!

  4. Would love to see the K. Ireland fabrics and feel them on my skin, they look so lovely and so country.

    But I would definitely love to stay at San Ysidro Ranch, I love the interiors, with its wooden beams and stone walls. Just would love to stay in a place like that.

  5. Wow, great post again! I visited the grounds of the San Ysidro Ranch a number of years ago and it was beautiful but it looks unbelievable now in your photos. Love the ceilings inside also. The K. Ireland interiors are wonderful--love the checked beds. Not so much the Michael Smith hotel though--I'm surprised!

  6. I'd love to start off the week at the Canary Hotel and then end the week at the Oak Grove Cottage. Love outdoor showers. The last few posts had me lingering through a whole cup of coffee -wow! Thanks for your nice comment about my blog's name. Michele

  7. Breathtaking photos -- just imagine trying those wonderful spots! Just sent the DH out to the store to buy lottery tickets! As always -- an beautiful, educational posting about charming design, color, style -- inside and out! Honestly -- this blog is better than chocolate!

    Jan at Rosemary Cottage

  8. Teacats: thank you as always!
    Ann and Anon - thank you too for your support.
    W.Adair: I know what you are saying, but still - how many hotel rooms have four poster beds that beautiful? I can't think of any really in this price range. The lobby is really my style too.I think the Ireland hotel needs updating now, its looking a little tired to my eyes - maybe not in person - but that location! I would hope the S.Ysidro looks better now - they spent three years and a small fortune redoing the place and all the cottages. To me, the decor in the cottages is not my style. I would have done much lighter palattes inside with seagrass and blue and white striped dhurri rugs, white slipcovers, lot of antique bamboo and dark wood furniture. More chintz. But that's just me. My style. The hotel is beyond gorgeous in the pictures and i'm dying to stay there for a week, after a week at the beach first.

  9. Start in the city and then move to the beach. Mountains? Not for me!

  10. Not sure, but now all I've got stuck in my head is......."be sure to wear some flowers in your hair..."
    ........thanks to your headline!

  11. WICKED GOOD post! I want to LIVE in the cottages, particularly the one with the Roman Holiday TV. I love those details. I've been gardening instead of reading blogs. I'm off to read your second Top Ten. Keep up the great work, Joni. Also that photo of Santa Barbara is beautiful.

  12. The refurbishing of San Ysidro Ranch is lovely. I wonder if they still put a wooden plaque outside each cottage with the name of the current guests residing within...such a classy touch!

  13. Love love loved your post, I'm very near Santa Barbara and it is a frequent destination! A few tidbits: the Canary used to be the Hotel Andalucia with a very iffy reputation. I'm quite anxious to see how the 'Canary' fares. Certainly teh new interiors are gorgeous. Another one: I have those *exact* same 'Suzani' pillow on my couch - from Anthropologie over a year ago, no less. Interesting.

  14. Oh, and to answer your question - hands down, SAN YSIDRO RANCH :)

  15. j: thanks for the comments - interesting about the pillows - I thought they looked familiar!

  16. joni, you know i love the canary :)

  17. Joni I don't know where you find all of these amazing places and especially the photos! This is such a wonderful spread, I really enjoyed it and took my time going through all of the places. Fantastic!


  18. You should also check out El Encanto in Santa Barbara as well as the Spa at Ojai in Ojai. Both places we like to stay at regularly.

    For places to eat, try Cava in Montecito.


  19. I love Santa Barbara, although it has been a few years since I've been there, these photos make me want to return!!

  20. That TREE in the Gardenia Cottage terrace/garden! I would be happy to just wile away the hours languishing under its glorious, gnarled branches. Pure enchantment. What a lovely post....the San Ysidro Ranch should send you a yummy "Thank You" basket and comp your next visit.

  21. Joni, I always love the "virtual vacation" you send me on with your travel posts! Another enjoyable trip . . .

  22. Joni, holy cow, I need to get to Santa Barbara! My family owns a printing company there so I need to use that as an excuse for a design excursion! :-) These are some mighty pretty rooms!

    Happy night, thanks for the inspiration!


  23. oh my gosh Joni.... first of all... wow your dedication to design and travel is amazing ! Now we all want to go to Santa Barbara.... either that or to Houston to have margaritas at your house !!! Wow your energy is amazing.... as Rob Reiners mom says.... I have whatever she's having !! ( or something like that)

  24. Yes, Joni, you're right about the San Ysidro interiors. A bit too much of the tone on tone bieges going on! Some contrast would be nice and fresh.

  25. Hi - thanks everyone for all your comments -

    Adair: yes!!!! I know!!! while the ranch is gorgeous and the rooms are first class - it's just not my style of decor. they should have hired me!!!!


  26. I stayed at the Canary property before it was the Canary and that roof deck is AMAZING!

  27. The Pictures of Canary Hotel are very impressive. The furniture and decoration are very rich and beautiful. It makes hotel room royal.

    Hotel Gramado

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