Los Angeles is a great place to live, but one of the blessings of living in Southern California is weekend trips out of LA. One of my family’s favorite getaways is a two hour drive north to Santa Barbara. When we go, we stay at the Hyatt Centric Santa Barbara.
It’s not my favorite hotel by any stretch of the imagination, mind you. The hotel has a storied history, but is fairly tired and in desperate need of a refresh. Nevertheless, it’s in an ideal location, with the beach literally across the street and great restaurants within walking distance. Furthermore, the Category 4 hotel in the World of Hyatt program represents an excellent redemption option for your annual Chase Hyatt Visa Card free night certificate.
Hotels are not cheap in Santa Barbara and this hotel isn’t either. Rates often run in excess of $200 during low season and $400 in high season. That makes using your free night cert a tremendous value.
The former Hotel Vista Mar Monte opened to grand fanfare in 1931. It is a California classic. There is not one hotel building but three…and they are not connected.
At check-in, I am usually upgraded to an ocean-view room thanks to my Globalist status. But for whatever reason, I always end up with two queen beds instead of a king. That’s the tradeoff. The lobby is comfortable, with a fireplace, free coffee, and computer workstations.
Hyatt Centric Santa Barbara Guest Rooms
Let’s start with some pictures of the room. Here are pictures from my last two stays–
Room 1 (Santa Clara Building):
Room 2 (Santa Cruz Building):
Both rooms had nice balconies and both rooms were large. Both rooms also had small, but perfectly acceptable bathrooms. The rooms were clean and the bed comfortable. So what’s the problem? Light. With only a few cold fluorescent lamps, there really was not sufficient light in the room at night. The furniture and carpet is also showing its age. I like classic hotels and traditional looks, but this just seemed worn out.
Hyatt Centric Santa Barbara Pool + Fitness Center
A heated swimming pool and whirlpool is open year around. Expect plenty of people if the weather is nice outside.
The fitness center is located on the ground floor of Santa Cruz building and contains primarily cardiovascular equipment, with a single strength training machine and free weights. Water and headphones are provided.
Hyatt Centric Santa Barbara Dining
Next to the pool is the Mar Vista, a bar/lounge with an indoor side and outdoor side. Drinks and tapas are available.
The hotel’s main restaurant is called Marbella, which offers breakfast and the morning and a Spanish-inspired menu for lunch and dinner.
In the morning, both a breakfast buffet and a la carte menu are available. As you enter the restaurant for breakfast, you are given an omelet card with pencil as well as the menu. On it, you can choose what ingredients you want in your omelet.
I tend to order off the menu while my wife enjoyed the buffet selection, including:
- scrambled eggs
Meanwhile, I tried something different each day:
Hyatt Centric Santa Barbara Parking
A note on parking. Directly behind the hotel is a park and residential neighborhood. While parking is $28/night at the hotel (valet only), complimentary street parking is readily available.
Santa Barbara House
A few years ago, the hotel opened a fourth building called the “Santa Barbara House”. It offers renovated rooms and a more “residential” experience. Located on Por La Mar Drive, a few blocks from the hotel, the Santa Barbara House can be booked at a premium as a hotel within a hotel. Details here.
We don’t go to Santa Barbara for this hotel. We go to Santa Barbara for the beautiful weather and change of scenery from LA. But we’ll keep coming back to the Hyatt Centric. It offers a great value using World of Hyatt points or free nights certs and is located ideally in a beautiful neighborhood of Santa Barbara.
And even if the rooms are rather dull and drab, I love the heritage of the common areas–